Google Ads for charities: how to get started the right way

Published on
October 26, 2020
in
How Tos
Ben Matthews
We look at how charities can make the most of Google Ad Grants.
This shows a graphic with five stages of Google Ad Grants - check eligibility, enrol, apply, create account, and submit account for review.

The good news is that Google Ad Grants give charities access to $10,000 (£8,000) worth of free Google Ads spend, every month.

The even better news is that Google have now made applications much simpler to navigate. So there really is no excuse not to apply for the Google Ad Grant for your organisation and take advantage of that free monthly ad spend.

Once you’re approved for the Google Ad Grant, Google gives you thousands of free ad spend every month, but any budget left over at the end of the month is lost. 

Using as much of that budget as you can is going to take some understanding, so setting up your account in the right way from the start will pay dividends for months, or even years, to come.

Here are several tips on how to do that.

Assign someone direct responsibility

Way too often at charities we see the same problem: Google Ads accounts are not being regularly checked and so not being made the most of.

Or worse, logins to the account are lost and no one knows how to access the Google Ads for your charity!

Pick one person who will be responsible for maintaining the account and make sure that they document the logins for the account.

We recommend the person responsible logs in to Google about once a week to maintain the account. It's going to take a little more time to set it up in the beginning. But after that, once the ads are rolling, about an hour every week should be plenty.

Create a list of keyword ideas

Before you even start running Google Ads, think about what keywords you want to be showing your ads against.

Not sure where to start with creating keywords? Here are some ideas that may help.

First, turn it around and think from the user’s perspective. For your site to come up as the answer to a search, someone must have asked a question. What question might that be? 

There are many tools you can use to come up with new keywords to use, based on this idea.

Google's Keyword Planner Tool will give you a lot of great ideas for keywords. It's a free tool that comes with Google Ads, so make good use of it.

Another good way to find keywords ideas is to use Google's autocomplete feature. Go to google.com. Start typing in a phrase around your cause, and see what Google comes up with in its autocomplete.

This auto-complete function shows you what other people are searching for, so it is a good source of data.

Lastly, find keywords from your content. Scan the content on your website for keyword ideas. You're the expert for your cause; you have tons of content around it.

See what keywords you're already using in your content. Then you can adapt those into keywords for your Google Ads.

Set up your account

Now you have all these great keyword ideas, think about how you are going to organise these in your Google Ads account.

You will need to create a campaign, which is where all your ads will be kept. 

Within each campaign, you will have ad groups, which contain different ads.

If people click on your ad, they will be taken to a page on your website - a landing page. 

A good rule of thumb is that different ad groups (one or more ads that share similar target) within a campaign (a set of ad groups) should be pointing to the same landing page. If you need a different landing page, create a new campaign for that landing page.

If you're going to be doing any geographic location targeting (e.g. showing ads only to people in Manchester or Wales) you can only do that at the campaign level. You need to think about that when you're figuring out how to organise your campaigns.

Confused? Google has a helpful guide to setting up your Google Ads account.

Choose your landing pages

Selecting which landing page to use for your Google Ads is important.

For each campaign, make sure your landing page is one of the most engaging pages on your website, and that the page has a call to action - it asks people to do something that you want them to do.

You might want people to sign up to a newsletter, or make a donation: whatever is important to your organisation. That's where you want your ads to point to.

Write your ad copy

We recommend writing two ads per ad group. If you write too many, they're going to be competing against each other. 

Create two ads, and then after a week, see which one's performing the best. And then write a new ad and try to beat it.

This is a good formula to follow for your ads:

  1. Use a catchy headline, including the keyword because that's what people are searching for. 
  2. On the next line, put the benefits: how can people enjoy what you're offering. 
  3. On the next line, add a special offer, a promotion or some kind of call to action to get people excited.

For civil society organisations, this can be a little tricky, since buying a product often isn't the goal. But this formula still kind of works. You can still offer news, free resources, and other services, as well as the good feeling that comes with doing something nice. And you still need a call to action.

Set up your campaign

So you've got your keywords, you have your ads, you have your campaigns. Now it's time to set it all up and watch it grow. 

I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty here. There are loads of resources out there on how to do this. 

Here are a few of our favourites:

Analyse your campaigns

It's important to make sure you're making the best use of the Google Ad Grants, so look at your analytics!

When the responsible person for your charity (see step 1!) logs in for their weekly check on the account, here are some questions to think about to help analyse how the campaigns are performing:

  1. Which campaigns are performing well? Which are underperforming and need improving?
  2. Which keywords are driving the most clicks?
  3. Which keywords are driving the most actions?
  4. Which ad copy is driving the most clicks?
  5. Which ad copy is driving the most conversions?
  6. Which landing pages are performing the best?
  7. Can the landing pages be changed to improve conversions?

To make it even easier, Google now provides recommendations for simple ways to improve your Google Ads. Simply follow their recommendations and you can be confident that your ads are being well optimised.

Follow these tips and you’ll get started with your Google Ads Grant the right way and be well on the way to success. 


Need more help? Take a look at our Google Ads Training for Charities.


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