5 Tips for Google Grant Accounts Struggling to Hit a 5% CTR

Last year, Google announced a major change to its Ad Grant program, requiring accounts to maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR). Click-through rate is the ratio of clicks an ad gets to the number of times it is shown (impressions) and is an indication of the relevancy and quality of an ad.

Grant accounts that can’t achieve the 5% threshold for 2 consecutive months are suspended automatically by Google. Gone are the days of adding as many semi-relevant keywords you could to get the most out of your Grant budget. You need to be a lot more careful about how you manage your Grant campaigns in order to reach a 5% account average click-through rate. Though the process of managing a number of Grant campaigns, I’ve identified 5 optimization ideas to help you maximize click volume while maintaining a high average CTR.

Add Branded Keywords (Assuming You Haven’t Already)

If you are not currently using your nonprofit’s brand name as a keyword, you are doing yourself a disservice. Branded keywords will almost always have the highest click-through rate in any Google Ads account, so this is an easy step towards increasing your account’s CTR average while also increasing your presence in the search results page when someone searches for your organization’s name.

Pause Keywords with Low CTR

Look at the keywords that are receiving the most impressions and pause the ones with low click-through rates. Unfortunately, you are going to end up thinking “but wait! That keyword is extremely relevant to us!” As frustrating as it is, you are going to need to pause low CTR keywords with high impressions. While doing this optimization, focus on keywords with the highest impression volume to get the most bang for your buck when aiming to increase the overall account average.

What counts as low depends a bit on your overall average. If you are averaging 4.9%, you probably only need to pause a few of the worst performers. If you are averaging 2%, you are going to need to pause a lot of keywords to get the average up to 5%. An okay strategy to start is to pause everything below 4%, then un-pause the better performers once your account starts trending well above 5%.


Use Specific Geo-Targeting

You may have launched your campaign with broad geo-targeting, but if you are struggling to achieve a 5% CTR, you might have to narrow your reach. If your non-profit only serves a specific city or region, make sure that your ads only cover that area to maximize relevancy. Pull a geographic report in Google Ads to see if there are any areas that are interacting with your ads at a lower rate than others. If so, don’t be afraid to remove that city or state from your geo-targeting, or better yet, create a campaign that targets low-performing regions separately and only contains keywords known to have high click-through rates.


A/B Ad Testing

The classic paid search optimization for increasing click-through rate is A/B ad testing: running multiple ad variations side-by-side to see which ad copy performs the best. In order to make a big impact on CTR, you are going to need to be creative. Test outside-the-box messaging that is more salient in the results page or use the Jobs to Be Done framework to find the user’s true motivation. Ad testing is an iterative process, so when you find a variation that works, continue to test it against new, even more creative ads.



Go Below 5% Strategically

The 5% CTR mandate has a loophole. The Google Support page on the topic states, “If the CTR requirement isn’t met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be temporarily deactivated.” “Consecutive” is the key word here. Do you have an event or fundraiser that you are desperate to promote? It’s okay to temporarily broaden reach by adding keywords and geo-targeting so long as you don’t let 2 consecutive months pass by below 5%. Planning ahead is the key here; if you know you have an event in April that needs extra promotion, make sure that you are able to average over 5% in March to avoid a suspension.

A 5% click-through rate might seem like a daunting requirement, but with proper planning and thoughtful optimizations, it is an achievable goal. Need help getting the most out of your Google Grant campaign? We’re here to help.

This post is part of our blog series exploring key concepts and considerations for people managing Google Grant accounts.

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