There are many things that you can do in a Google Grants account. So many, that at times it can be a little bewildering. In working with nonprofits, I’ve learned that what is really important for nonprofits to understand are two basic requirements that are the foundation of a successful Google Grants account: Good Landing Pages and Relevant Searches.
Landing Page is a Prerequisite
The function of AdWords can be distilled into a single sentence: AdWords Search Ads send people searching something relevant to your organization from Google’s Search Engine to your website.
There are two very important components of that sentence that I want to highlight. The first is that there is no requirement that you use the ads to sell products. Even though that is typically how for-profits use them and selling is heavily implied by its association with advertising, it is not mandatory. The second is that it sends traffic to a page on your website and not to an Amazon page or Facebook page.
The landing page is the page on your website that the advertisement sends people to. So if you want to promote something, you should have a webpage devoted to it. That web page should have content similar to the language of the advertisement and keywords. This helps improve your quality score, which is Google’s calculation of how relevant your content is to the searcher’s needs. Essentially, Google wants keywords, advertisements, and landing pages to be in alignment so they can be confident they are sending the searcher to the right place. This is why you will never see an advertisement for a jet ski when you search for a used car on Google.
Not only will partnering with a specialist who knows how to do keyword research help you improve your landing pages, and by extension your quality score, you might stumble upon things you want to promote that you previously had no web page dedicated to! Having a web page for every single thing you want to promote is a goal that can easily fall through the cracks.
When looking at your website as an insider, it’s easy to forget how little an ordinary visitor knows about what you offer. This is why when I speak to a new client, I ask them questions about what their organization does and wants to accomplish in addition to reading pages on their website.
Ultimately, Google Grants is a reactive form of marketing. If you buy a television commercial, anyone watching at that time will see the ad. When you buy an ad in Google Grants, you pay only when the ad is clicked, the ad can only be clicked when it is shown, and the ad will only be shown if a person makes a relevant search on Google’s search engine. That’s a bit more complicated.
How exactly to set this up is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but essentially advertisers need to set keywords that people type on a search engine in order to trigger the showing of the advertisement. So it is essential to do keyword research before setting up any ads. You are not going to get a lot of clicks unless you get a lot of searches.
A specific example of this is a request for me to create an ad for my client MetroEast Community Media. The CEO, Marty Jones, wanted me to set up an advertisement for a lesson from a guest teacher, Darin Scott, a Hollywood director. If you click the link to see his IMDB, you’ll know that he is a much higher profile guest than a typical Public Access Station usually gets. However, he isn’t a household name. There are not a lot of searches relevant to him, particularly within driving distance of those who would likely attend the lesson.
So what did I do? I shared with my client these limitations and then created the ad anyway. Yes, it doesn’t have a whole lot of search volume, but it’s something that is a great event that my client could charge for. So why not create an advertisement even though it gets far fewer clicks than the other advertisements?
The lesson isn’t to never do these kinds of ads. The lesson is to not rely on them exclusively and create ads with a full understanding of how people make Google searches, which I explain in greater detail in my Taoist Guide to AdWords.
If you rely exclusively on low-volume keywords, you won’t spend close to the money Google provides you. And if you don’t spend that money, not only are you squandering the gift by not taking full advantage of the opportunity to get good visitors to your website, but you also are required to mark a much lower gift in-kind on accounting documents.
Put another way, Google only gives you the in-kind donation to the extent that you use it. The potential amount is $120,000 a year. But if you get far fewer clicks than what you potentially could, let’s say $1,200 in a year, your literal in-kind donation from Google is $1,200 a year. Do you really want to explain to your board of directors that you lost over $100,000 in in-kind donations from Google because your account was set up to only spend 1% of the potential opportunity?
Michael Rasko is a nonprofit marketing consultant who specializes in Google Grants. If you work with or for a nonprofit who is interested in starting or improving a Google Grants account, contact him to learn more about a one-month, no-commitment free trial. Included in the free trial is application assistance for new accounts and re-activation assistance for accounts that have been suspended for policy violations.
You can contact him for this reason or any other reason by filling out the contact form below or calling (503) 558-6500. If you do call and get voicemail, remember to leave a detailed message to differentiate yourself from the many robocalls that publicly listed phone numbers receive.