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Understanding the Google Ad Grant in 2021

Understanding the Google Ad Grant in 2021

Creating a nonprofit is such an amazing way to make a positive impact within your community and the world at large. Whether you are working to create equal access to advanced medicine, enriching the culture of your hometown, and online community with amazing independent films, helping those who have been impacted by natural disasters one thing never changes. You need to get your services out in front of as many people as you can. That’s exactly what the Google Ad Grants program does!

Google Ad Grants

What Is The Google Ad Grants Program?

Google Ad Grants provides you with access to $10,000 USD for your nonprofit to spend on digital advertising every month. This allows you to get out front and center so you can expand your reach. Whether you need volunteers, donors, or simply some help raising awareness for your social cause, Google Ad Grants is an opportunity that shouldn’t be dismissed.

Is Google Ad Grants Worth It?

Simply put, YES! Google Ad Grants provides you with the funds needed to reach those that may never have had the opportunity to hear your message for FREE.

This is a no strings attached process in which you just simply need to apply. Not only do you receive $10,000 USD a month in in-kind advertising, or approximately $329 per day, in in-kind advertising credit to use on the Google Ad Platform. 

You also get free access to Google’s G Suite program. Which allows you to manage your information and communicate with members of your team securely and efficiently.

How To Qualify for Google Ad Grants

In order to be eligible to participate in the Google Ad Grants program, your organization must meet the following requirements:

  • Your organization must apply for and obtain a Google for Nonprofits account.
  • Your organization must be registered as a charitable organization. Oftentimes this is a 501c3 certification, but depending on the country you operate out of, it may require a different registration type. You can view the countries in which Google for Nonprofits is available, as well as the country-specific requirements, on Google’s support hub.
  • Your organization must be registered with TechSoup.
  • Your organization must not be a hospital or a governmental or healthcare institution. Schools, universities, and academic institutions are also not allowed, but not to worry; Google offers their Google for Education program to provide support for schools.
  • Your nonprofit must agree to the application’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination, donation receipt, and use.
  • Your nonprofits must not discriminate on any unlawful basis in either hiring/employment practices or in the administration of programs and services.
  • Your mission must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring/employment practices.
  • You must agree that your nonprofit’s mission will not negatively impact Google’s current or future ability to do business with your organization.
  • You will need to guarantee that any donation your nonprofit receives will not be used to corruptly influence any government official to obtain or retain business or any improper advantage.

Your organization must have a high-quality website as defined by Google. Some of these requirements are:

  • No broken links
  • Mobile friendly
  • Fast loading times
  • A valid SSL certificate installed
  • Substantial and unique content that clearly defines your mission and values.

Running into issues with applying for TechSoup or Google for Nonprofits? Reach out to us; we’ll handle the entire application process for you at no charge.

New Application Process

Joining Google for Nonprofits has never been easier. Just this year, Google updated the entire process so that nonprofits wouldn’t have any issues or unnecessary hoops to jump through. Now, all you need to do is submit the Ad Grants eligibility form. Once approved, submit your activation request and you’re good to go!

Ad Grants Management

The application process is the easy part. The next challenge is the creation and maintenance of ads and your account in general, which means you may spend more time than you want to maintaining your account.

Ad Creation

The Google Ad Grants provides $10,000 monthly in what is called Text Ads, which is exactly as it sounds: ads made up of text. This means you have to create a variety of custom ads using the information on your landing pages that will appeal to your target audience and that will link back to your site. This information should be updated on a regular basis. In addition to maintaining your ads, you’ll want to monitor what works and what doesn’t and replace low performing ads.

Account Compliance

Once your ads are up and running, the last piece of the puzzle is ongoing account maintenance. Google has an extensive list of benchmarks and requirements all Google Ads accounts must follow, as well as Ad Grants specific policies that your account must continue to maintain, such as:

  • Having a well-structured ad account that has correct location settings that match your target audience, at least 2 active ad groups per campaign, and at least 2 unique sitelink ad extensions.
  • Maintaining a 5% click-through rate each month.
  • Implementing conversion tracking to track meaningful conversions, such as phone calls, form submissions, and donations.
  • Using conversion-based Smart bidding for all campaigns.
  • Not using single-word, low-quality, or generic keywords.

These guidelines are continuously updated and, unless you stay on top of them, can easily lead to frustration when ads get disapproved for seemingly no reason. If disapproval issues are not fixed in a timely manner, it can lead to the entire account being suspended, so it’s vital that you are aware of the policies and any updates that occur.

Google Ad Grants Certified Agency

While Google Ad Grants is a free service, Google also understands that staying in compliance and optimizing the Ad Grant is a time-consuming process.

Thus, Google put together a group of certified professionals to help you maintain your Google Ad Grants. There are a total of 45 agencies that are certified by Google to oversee Google Ad Grants for nonprofits.

Fun fact: RankMonsters was one of the original nine companies asked to join this program by Google

The best way to optimize your Ad Grant in 2021 is to optimize your site by implementing SEO practices, which is exactly what RankMonsters does.

How RankMonsters Can Help Your Nonprofit!

Maximize Your Exposure

The Google Ad Grant allows your ads to show up at the top of search results for your main keywords. With this program you can increase your online exposure and appear in front of your target audience any time they are searching for your services.

Advertise Services & Products

The Google Ad Grant lets you advertise your nonprofit’s services and products to searchers online. Using the Ad Grant, you can reach a much wider audience of motivated searchers with advertisements targeted to the keywords they are looking for.

Connect with Donors

The Google Ad Grant allows you to reach out to potential donors and volunteers online. With this program you can target ads specifically to donors looking for nonprofits to assist or to volunteers looking for an organization to work alongside.

Advertise Events

Google Ads makes it easy to advertise events and special occasions without expending extra funds. The Ad Grant even allows you to target your ads to people seeking events or activities in your location to help increase attendance and reach more people.

Increase Brand Awareness

Using the Google Ad Grant, your ads can appear in searches broadly related to your services. This can allow you to increase awareness of your organization and brand among the general public, or to build interest in one part of your organization’s offerings.

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Receive Valuable Data

When you use Google Ads, you receive valuable data about the people searching for your keywords and clicking on your advertisements. This data makes it easier to target future ads, and it also provides valuable insight into your online audience.

To learn more about our services and how we can partner with you to achieve your goals, call us today at 405-605-8218 or send us a message online!

How to Stay Off Google’s Naughty List

How to Stay Off Google’s Naughty List

Are you an organization that uses the Google Adwords Grant, or are considering signing up for it in the future? Then you should know that, just like Santa; Google has a naughty list. Unlike Santa’s list, though, it is difficult – if not impossible – to get off of Google’s naughty list.

Let us explain

Google owns and operates the Adwords platform, and that means they get to decide who uses it. They also have very specific rules and guidelines for how you’re allowed to use it – and if you make a mistake, you could end up getting your website or your entire account suspended – a.k.a., put on the Naughty List.

Most of the time, Google only suspends sites and accounts that deserve it. However, it is possible to land on the Naughty List by accident – even when you’re signing up for Adwords for the very first time. Unfortunately, no matter how you end up on the list, it’s always difficult to get back off it. Sometimes you simply can’t.

That’s why, when applying for a Google for Nonprofits Membership or the Adwords Grant, there are important steps to take to make sure you do not end up on the Naughty List.

Familiarize Yourself with Adwords Advertising Policies

One of the best ways to ensure your site isn’t in violation of Google’s rules and guidelines is to be familiar with what those guidelines are. That’s why a good first step is to look over the Advertising Policies for Adwords.

These policies form the backbone for acceptable use of the Adwords network. Violating these policies will generally only result in your ads being disapproved, but in some serious cases Google will suspend your website or your entire Adwords account. If you plan to manage your own Google Grant, we recommend becoming very familiar with the Advertising Policies to make sure you don’t violate them and run into trouble.

Check Your Website Carefully

Another important step in signing up for the Google Grant is checking your website carefully to make sure you haven’t unintentionally violated a policy. Remember, even if you violate a policy by accident, Google can – and sometimes will – permanently suspend your account.

Here are a few common issues we’ve seen that can prevent sites from being approved for the Adwords Grant, or that can lead to account suspensions.

Using the Wrong Website

When you apply for a Google for Nonprofits membership, you will answer some questions about your organization and provide some information. One of the requirements is that you provide a validation token from TechSoup – a long string of letters and numbers that Google uses to verify your nonprofit status.

What Google doesn’t make fully clear, though, is that if you want to apply for the Ad Grant under your Google for Nonprofits membership, your ads must use the same site as the one listed on your TechSoup profile when you completed your initial application.

For organizations with more than one website or that aren’t sure which URL is associated with their Google for Nonprofits account, this can present a problem. If you apply for the Ad Grant using a different site than the one you used in your initial application, Google could disapprove your request. Worse, they might approve it and then suspend your account.

You should note that you can apply to use more than one website under your Ad Grant account, but only after it’s been approved.

Using Redirects and Frames

Another common Adwords mistake is sending users to a page on your site that redirects traffic or includes data from another website. For instance, if your landing page uses a frame to display content from an outside website, this can throw up major red flags for Google.

In some cases Google will simply be unable to reach your website and will disapprove your ads. However, Google could also see your redirects as a violation of the “Circumventing Systems” policy, which almost always results in a full and irreversible suspension of your account.

If you’re not sure if your landing page is redirecting traffic, there are a few simple tests you can perform:

  • Type or paste the URL for the page you want to use in your ads into your address bar and push “Enter.” When the page loads, is the URL exactly the same or did it change? If it’s not the same, your URL is most likely redirecting to another page, which could cause trouble.
  • Use your mouse to right-click on your page. In the box that opens, you should see an option that reads “View Page Source.” However, in some cases you will also see “View Frame Source” underneath. If you see that second option, stop! If you continue, you could end up on the Naughty List.

Putting Bad Links On Your Site

When you put an ad on Adwords, you might not realize that Google isn’t just looking at your website when it approves it. Google’s “spiders” crawl the page you link to, of course – but they also crawl the other pages on your website, and then they crawl all the pages those sites link to as well. That means when you link to a service page from your ad, Google will follow it and crawl every other page it links to as well.

This can be a problem when your site has lots of external links. Perhaps you wrote a blog post a few years ago that linked to another page, or you have a list of sources for some content. If any of those other sites gets compromised or starts doing something malicious, Google can and will disapprove your ads or suspend your website or Adwords account as part of their “Malicious or Unwanted Software Policy.”

This is one of the toughest issues to solve with Adwords. Here are a few reasons we’ve seen websites and accounts get suspended through this policy:

  • Using an outdated WordPress plugin.
  • Linking to pages that previously hosted malware (but were since cleaned up).
  • Linking directly to a Google Maps URL instead of using the Google Maps API for location data.

What to Do if You Get Put on the List

If you do wind up on Google’s Naughty List, you don’t have too many options for how to get off. The exact steps you take will depend on what kind of penalty you have and what got your ads, site, or account suspended in the first place.

For suspended or disapproved ads, you should be able to recover quickly. Simply make the changes to your ads that Google requests and resubmit them for review. Within a day or two, Google representatives should review your ads and determine if they comply with the Advertising Policies. You can also call the Adwords Help Center for guidance and advice.

If your website is suspended – such as for violating the Malicious Software policy – it can be harder to get running again. You will first need to make sure your website is free of any malware or malicious programs, and that all your code and links comply with Google’s site guidelines. This review and cleanup process can take a while. Once you’re done, Google will manually review your site and determine if it can show ads again.

Finally, if your Adwords account gets suspended, your only choice is to submit an appeal and hope for the best. Google rarely grants reversals in the case of suspended accounts. It is very possible you will be locked out of Adwords, leaving you unable to use any of your $10,000 per month credit on Adwords ever again.

Avoid Suspensions By Working With an Experienced Agency

Another way to avoid getting put on the Naughty List is to work with RankMonsters. We’re an experienced online advertising and marketing agency, and we’ve helped dozens of agencies like yours apply for and manage the Ad Grant. Unlike many agencies and web design companies that offer grant management as a service, we have years of experience with Adwords and the Ad Grant and the results to show for it.

How We Can Help

To get started with RankMonsters, sign up today and let us apply for the grant on your behalf as a free service. There is no obligation for management packages, even if you get approved. We simply want to help organizations utilize the amazing opportunity the Ad Grant provides. If you have questions or want to learn more, get in touch!

Big Changes Coming to Google Ad Grants

Big Changes Coming to Google Ad Grants

If your organization makes use of Google for Nonprofits and the Google Ad Grant, you should know that there are big changes coming to the system. On January 1, 2018, Google will begin implementing new rules for several aspects of Ad Grant accounts, including the ways organizations manage bids and the way they keep their accounts open. Here is a brief overview of what is changing and how you’ll have to adjust.

Changes to Bid Strategies

First, the biggest change: Google is lifting the $2.00 per click maximum bid for Ad Grant accounts.

This is a huge change for Ad Grant recipients, but it comes with a catch: You can only bid more than $2.00 per click when using the “Maximize Conversions” bid option, which sets your bids automatically using Google’s machine learning algorithms.

You can read more about the Maximize Conversions system directly from Google.

Here Is Conversion Rundown

  • To use Maximize Conversions, you will first need to enable Conversion Tracking. This means you’ll need to have your website set up in Google Analytics and have to add conversion tags to specific actions or events on your site. Conversions can be any defined action, such as visiting a certain page on your site, filling out a form, or clicking a link.
  • Maximize Conversions is a campaign-level bidding strategy that requires its own budget. You cannot share a budget with any other campaigns in your account. For Ad Grant recipients, that means you will need to manually set the budget to use either the entire $329 per day or a pre-set portion of that amount.
  • You won’t have direct control over how much you bid for individual keywords. Instead, Google will use the historical performance and expected performance of your ads to set bids on your behalf.

This is a major change to the Ad Grant program that could open many new possibilities to grantees. However, it could also present a significant challenge if you aren’t an Adwords power user already.

Changes to Terms and Policies

Along with the change to bid strategies, Google also made a number of changes to their policies and rules regarding Grant accounts. Here are a few of the big changes you need to be aware of:

Website Changes

Google requires that your website must be owned and operated by your organization. However, they now also require that your website clearly state your mission and purpose. You also must be very careful about the claims your site and your advertisements make, and especially if you are promoting specific services or consultations.

Furthermore, Google is now disallowing organizations from promoting websites with a commercial focus. That means if your organization primarily sells merchandise or requires fees for services, you must clearly disclose how you use money gained, such as by providing annual financial reports.

Account Management Policies

Ad Grant accounts have always had specific management policies, such as requiring grantees to log in to Adwords at least every 30 days and make changes at least every 90 days. Now, however, there are additional policies and rules:

  • Your account must maintain at least a 5% overall CTR each month. If your account goes longer than two months without meeting this goal it can be cancelled.
  • Ad Grant accounts must use specific geo-targeting to show ads in relevant locations.
  • Grant accounts must have at least one campaign with at least two ad groups, with two text ads in each ad group. Furthermore, each ad must have at least two sitelink ad extensions.
  • You must complete Google’s annual survey about the Ad Grant program. If you don’t complete the survey by the deadline your account can be suspended until after you complete it.

Some of these new policies might require major changes on your behalf, so make sure you start working on your account soon in order to meet the requirements.

Mission-Focused Advertising

Finally, Google is tightening their policies regarding keeping ad campaigns mission-focused. Google has always required that your advertisements be focused on the services of your organization, but now they are making adjustments to how they evaluate this rule. Most of these adjustments are based on the type and quality of keywords your account uses:

  • Organizations are still prohibited from using keywords for products or services they don’t own or manage, like “Google” or “YouTube.”
  • Your organization cannot use any single-word keywords except those on this short list of exceptions.
  • You can’t use overly broad or generic keywords such as “free e-books” or “download videos.” This also applies to broad keywords such as the names of individuals or the name of specific geographical places (“New York City”) or historical events (“The Battle of Hastings”).
  • Your keywords must maintain a Quality Score of 3 or more. You won’t be allowed to add any keywords with a Quality Score of two or lower, and your account could be suspended if you add or maintain keyword lists with too many low-quality keywords.

What These Changes Mean for You

Overall, these changes could be good for you if you are an active and dedicated manager of your Adwords account. They could allow you to make higher bids on desirable keywords and spend a larger portion of your $10,000 monthly grant.

However, if you aren’t an experienced Adwords manager, these changes could spell trouble. Google is obviously trying to weed out low-effort and low-engagement grantees with these changes, but they could also catch inexperienced nonprofits in their net. One thing is certain: if you need to make any changes to your account to stay in compliance and maintain your grant, you need to start working now.

How We Can Help

Not sure what to do or what steps to take? RankMonsters can help. We’re Adwords Certified Partners with years of experience managing Adwords and Ad Grant accounts of every size and type. Take a look at our available packages or give us a call at (405) 605-8218 to learn more.

Understanding TechSoup for Nonprofits

Understanding TechSoup for Nonprofits

 TechSoup is an organization that partners with technology and service providers to grant opportunities to nonprofits online. They help nonprofits access special tools and services, such as technical assistance and discounts on computer programs and hardware. TechSoup has partnerships with companies like Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco and Symantec. Your TechSoup membership can be a valuable asset. Especially if you are trying to grow your nonprofit and save money on much-needed tools.

How To Apply

In order to apply for the special programs offered by Google, Microsoft and more; TechSoup provides NGO (non governmental organizations), validation services foundations, libraries, and other civil society organizations worldwide. These validation services allow TechSoup’s partners to know your organization is a legitimate nonprofit. In effect, TechSoup verifies your nonprofit status and makes it easier for you to access special nonprofit tools and offerings from their partners.

TechSoup and the Google for Nonprofits Program

One of the requirements for the Google for Nonprofits program is for your organization to have an active TechSoup membership. Google requires nonprofits to apply for TechSoup as a way of verifying your nonprofit status and identity. Once you are validated by TechSoup, you will be able to get a validation token that you will use on your Google for Nonprofits Membership application.

When you work with RankMonsters to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program, we will walk your organization through the enrollment process for TechSoup. This ensures your organization gets the required validation token that you need to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program and other online offerings.

TechSoup Benefits

Your TechSoup membership carries several benefits, including:

  • Discounts on useful software including Microsoft Windows, Adobe Creative Cloud, Intuit Quickbooks and more.
  • Refurbished desktop and laptop computers to help keep your organization connected and up-to-date.
  • Cloud services consultations to get your organization set up for future success online.
  • Dedicated IT assistance to help keep your nonprofit running smoothly.

TechSoup Eligibility

Most 501(c)(3) nonprofits are eligible for TechSoup. To check your organization’s eligibility you can visit the TechSoup website and take a short quiz about your nonprofit’s activities and budget. The eligibility for the programs and tools available to TechSoup members varies. You can check your eligibility for the various programs after your TechSoup enrollment is completed.

Want RankMonsters to Help?

RankMonsters can help your organization enroll in TechSoup, as well as other programs for nonprofits. Call (405) 605-8218 today to speak to one of our representatives today!

Why Your Organization Should Work with a Google Certified Partner

Why Your Organization Should Work with a Google Certified Partner

Google Adwords is a great way to raise awareness for your organization, but it can be hard to get the most out of online advertising unless you have years of experience. Because of this, many organizations trust online advertising agencies to manage their Adwords accounts. How do you know you’re working with an agency that can bring you results?

 

One option is to work with a Google Certified Partner. Certified Partners are agencies that have met requirements set by Google to ensure the quality of their services and results. There are several reasons you may want to consider working with a Certified Partner agency for your online advertising.

What Is an Adwords Certified Partner?

Google Certified Partner agency must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have at least one account manager who has passed two or more Google Certification exams.
  • They need to have managed a minimum Adwords spend of $10,000 over the last 90 days.
  • They must have actively managed campaigns for 60 out of the last 90 days.

This ensures that your Adwords agency is experienced and knowledgeable about managing Adwords accounts.

In addition, Google also monitors the accounts of Certified Partners to ensure they meet the best practices for Adwords accounts. If an agency doesn’t follow these best practices, their certification can be revoked. So you know a certified agency follows them. These best practices ensure you get a good return on your advertising budget and that your ads are managed properly.

Certified Partners Have a Wide Knowledge Base

With knowledge of best practices, Google Certified Partner agencies are also well-versed in all the features and tools Adwords offers to boost campaign performance. This includes the use of features and techniques; like negative keywords, ad extensions, keyword match types, ad testing, and ad scheduling.

Along with how to use these tools, Certified Partners also understand when (and when not) to use them. For example, nonprofit clients who advertise through the Google Adwords Grant won’t need to use negative keywords or match types the same way a regular business will. Knowing the differences between account types and how those differences affect your campaign needs is important, and Certified Partners bring that experience from the start.

Certification Assures Customer Service

When an agency applies to become a Google Certified Partner, they submit all of their account data to Google for review. Only agencies with high overall performance and quality metrics are allowed to become Certified Partners. Some of the metrics Google reviews are:

  • Account-level Quality Scores  Quality Score is a metric designed by Google to measure the overall performance of ads and keywords. Higher quality scores earn advertisements lower costs per click (CPC) and better visibility. Google reviews the quality scores of all accounts an agency manages when reviewing them for Certified Partner status.
  • Conversion Rates – For accounts with goals and conversions set up, Google monitors conversion rates to judge the quality of traffic an agency sends to their clients’ sites. Higher conversion rates indicate higher quality and better performance.
  • Client Retention – If an agency has high client churn or turnover, this can be an indicator they aren’t providing the service that clients want. Google looks at client retention rates to see how well an agency performs with clients overall.

Get Access to New Features

Another benefit of working with a Certified Partner agency is they have access to beta features which non-certified agencies cannot use. Sometimes these beta features are released to Certified Partners more than a year before they are released to the general public.

Google also monitors Certified Partner accounts using these tools and features to ensure they are used to maximize ROI and performance. By monitoring the ways Certified Partners test and use tools; Google gets data on how to improve their offerings and ensures their partner agencies are helping clients succeed.

When you work with a Certified Partner agency, your account gets access to all of these beta features as well. That means you won’t be left behind by competitors who have access to these new tools. You’ll get a concrete advantage over the competitors who don’t.

Receive Help Directly from Google

Once a Certified Partner agency reaches a certain total account spend, they get access to their own Google Representatives who can help resolve issues and provide answers to questions. This means you won’t have to wait in line to hear back from Google when you have a problem – your agency can simply contact their Google Rep and get answers fast.

In addition, Google gives Certified Partners access to training and tools that other Adwords customers don’t receive. You will find that in many cases Google Reps even help Certified Partner agencies with optimization advice and tips to ensure accounts are performing at their best. Google invests heavily in ensuring Certified Partners provide the best Adwords experience possible. This in turn helps the agencies bring in more clients and provide great service.

Work with a Certified Partner Agency Today

If you want to ensure your online advertising succeeds, give RankMonsters a call. As a Google Certified Partner, we have the experience, tools, and knowledge to create and manage a successful online advertising campaign. Call (405) 605-8218 today, or visit us on Facebook to get more tips for succeeding online.