Google for Nonprofits: Ad Grant Best Practices

In December, 2017 Google introduced their new Ad Grant policies that came into full effect in February 2018. Since the introduction of these new policies, there’s been a lot of chatter of widespread account suspensions and cancellations. Don’t be too alarmed if your account is suspended, this is not the end of your Ad Grant account! Although some of these new policies are straightforward and easy to manage (see our Ad Grant Policy Guide), others are more ambiguous and open to interpretation. We’ve been speaking to Google and gathering our thoughts and best practices to keep your account healthy and remain active. In the nature of a little late spring cleaning, we’ve provided the main issues we’ve encountered and how we’ve combated them.

Issue 1: Inactive Ad Grant accounts

Not a regular Ad Grant user? You should start to be! With Google’s new regulations, any account that hasn’t been logged into for 30 days or had any edits done in the last 90 days is subject to cancellation. Beyond risking being shut down for inactive campaigns, it’s important to check your account on a regular basis because Google does not send an email to update account admit of suspensions. If you aren’t checking your account regularly, you could miss this shut down. Follow these steps to ensure a healthy account:

  1. Daily health checks – Make this part of your morning routine! Check AdWords to make sure you are still running ads, then ensure your account wide CTR is above a 5% and all keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or less are paused or removed.
  2. Automation rules (pun intended!) – If you do not have the time to sign into Google on a daily basis, set an automation to be notified via email if any drastic drops occur to your search traffic (impressions, clicks, spend). If impressions decline by 50% it is safe to assume the account is not running.

Issue 2: Quality Scores of 2 or lower

Although this is pretty straightforward, there are a few nuances. Keyword quality scores take two weeks to calculate, so it’s hard to say when Google will flag a keyword as being out of compliance with the new policies. Follow these steps to ensure compliance:

  1. Test improving your quality score! – Test more relevant landing pages, optimize ad copy to be more in-line with keyword text, ensure your ad groups consist of tightly knit keywords
  2. Or, play it safe and pause out all keywords with a quality score of 2 or less! – In some cases it’s necessary to include keywords with a score of “–” since these keywords don’t have enough traffic to effectively measure their quality score.

Issue 3: Account Wide CTR of 5%

Possibly Google’s most stringent new regulation is an account wide CTR (click-through rate) of 5% or higher. If your account drops below this mark, you have 2 months to increase and bring the CTR up to Google compliance. Here are some tips to help improve your accounts overall CTR:

  1. Sort campaigns by the highest impression volume and identify the ad groups that have a CTR lower than 5%. Make adjustments to final URLS, ad copy, sitelink extensions, keyword match types, and negative keywords to help improve CTR
  2. Pause out lower performing ads in ad groups with low CTR to help improve performance *Caution* Make sure you maintain 2 ads in each ad group!
  3. If the tests don’t make a positive difference in CTR, pause any keyword in the ad groups that has a CTR of 5%. lower and pause the lowest performing ads in each ad group.

Issue 4: Generic Keywords

This is one of the more subjective policy changes that Google announced. We’ve seen things get flagged for many different reasons – we won’t go into the details. The best advice we have for this:

  1. Pause out all single word keywords (this is also a policy updates!)
  2. Call the Google support team! They will walk you through which keywords are generic and why. You might be able to explain the relevance and have them send in for re-review with a note to look over again.

Issue 5: Location settings

This one is also tricky! Make sure your targeting isn’t too broad and there are some restrictions in place. Although where you are targeting and what Google deems as relevant is subjective for every online organization, we’ve found a few easy rules to follow:

  1. Make sure the locations you are targeting in your Ad Grant are listed on your website
  2. Set the advanced location option to: “People in my targeted location” in order to narrow targeting further

Issue 6: Account Structure

This one is straightforward and easy to follow. In order to remain in compliance confirm you have the following structures in place:

  1. At least 2 active ad groups per campaign
  2. 2 ads per ad group
  3. 2 sitelink ad extensions in each campaign

If you find that your account has been cancelled by Google, don’t fret! Once you’ve gone through your account and verified the above issues are addressed, request to reactivate your Ad Grant account. Google can take up to 10 days to respond, however we’ve seen this turnaround happen as quickly as 2 business days.

If you need additional support, drop us a line! Google Ad Grants are our bread and butter – we work hard to ensure accounts are running smoothly and bringing value to our organizations. 


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