Make the Most of Your Google Grant Keywords

Recent Changes to Google Grants

If you’re already a Google Grant recipient, chances are you’ve noticed some changes in your grant account in the past year. One of the most notable changes to Google’s Ad Grants program is the strictness on keywords permitted to run. Previously, grant account managers could upload an infinite number of keywords in the hopes of using more of the Google Grant budget, but this practice is no longer feasible with the recent introduction of new policies.

If you were a nonprofit who previously uploaded thousands of keywords, or if you’re brand new to Google Grants, fear not! We have compiled some tips for refining your keyword strategy.

I’m just getting started with Google Ads – what is a keyword?

There are a ton of amazing resources available for learning about the basics of what makes a keyword, understanding keyword match types and more. Scroll to the bottom for more keyword resources – in this post we’ll be covering topics specific to maximizing Google Grants.

What does Google not allow as a keyword for a Google Grant account?

  1. Branded terms you don’t own.
  2. Single-word keywords, besides your own branded keyword.
  3. Acronyms of your brand Google deems too general.
  4. Overly generic keywords such as “free videos,” “e-books,” “today’s news,” “easy yoga,” “download games,” “job alert,” and more.
  5. Names of places, historical events, or people.
  6. Keywords with a quality score below 3.

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So, how do I choose keywords for my Google Grant account?

One of the most intimidating aspects of building a paid search campaign is determining which keywords make sense to target for your business. However, spending a little more time up front will make your ongoing management much more feasible. Here are a few helpful steps to take when determining which keywords to add:

  1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you want to find a business like yours, what would you type into Google? The keywords and phrases you are targeting should be specific and relevant to your organization’s offering.
  2. Expand upon your ideas using the tools available. The Google Keyword Planner is helpful to find keyword variations of your ideas and group them together. You can also use external tools such as SEMrush (free version) and Answer the Public to get keyword ideas. Check out Wordstream’s big easy guide to keyword research for more in depth processes.
  3. Understand what makes a good keyword. Google rewards keyword relevance to both ad copy and landing pages; this is especially important for Google Grants. Utilize match types to target both broad and specific phrases.
  4. Know what types of keywords you don’t want your ads to show up for. Google allows advertisers to block irrelevant terms using negative keywords. For example, if you’re promoting a marine life rescue center that saves dolphins, you wouldn’t want your ad to show for the search “Miami Dolphins.” You can prevent this by adding “Miami” as a negative keyword. You can get an idea of what errant terms might arise by conducting test searches in Google, or by reviewing your search query report once the account is live.
  5. Take some risks. Google won’t immediately suspend your account if you add a keyword with a low quality score, and it can be hard to know where they draw the line on some rules such as “overly generic.” As long as you’re monitoring quality score and approval status occasionally, it doesn’t hurt to add keywords and remove them later.

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What can I do to optimize keywords that are already running?

Though Google doesn’t allow you to run keywords with a quality score below 3, there are some quick actions you can take to improve this metric:

  1. Mention your keyword in ad copy. Google looks at “ad relevance” as a component of quality score. Including your keywords somewhere in your ad, especially in the headline, is a great indication to Google that your ad is relevant to the searcher.
  2. Group like-keywords together. Along the same lines, if you have unrelated keywords in the same ad group, your ad copy is bound to be irrelevant for some of them. Grouping your keywords into ad groups by ideas will ensure your most relevant ad copy is showing for each term. Each ad group should have no more than 10-15 keywords.
  3. Review the search query report. he search query report shows the actual search terms people typed in, which are often different from the keywords you are buying. It is extremely helpful for finding phrases you’re not already targeting as well as for identifying irrelevant keywords you should be blocking. A few tips:
    1. Make sure that the following columns are included: clicks, impressions, CTR, match type, added/excluded keyword, conversions.
    2. Sorting by impressions will help you identify search terms that your ads are appearing for most often.
    3. The keyword column shows which of your keywords the search query was matched to. It can help you identify if a keyword is too broad and therefore pulling in a lot of irrelevant traffic.
    4. Along the same lines, if you are targeting a keyword using broad match and it’s performing well, try adding some of the high-performing phrases as exact match.

How have Google’s new requirements affected existing accounts?

We’ve seen significant impacts to our grant accounts since these changes were made at the beginning of 2018. In particular, we’ve seen noticeable decreases in spend across accounts resulting from Google’s stricter requirements regarding keywords.

Some of Google’s rules have proven to be fairly subjective. For example, in our account for the Davis Phinney Foundation, a Parkinson’s Disease resource, Google prohibited targeting the keyword “DBS,” because they deemed it to be “overly generic”. We had this keyword in our account to reach people searching for deep brain stimulation, a neurosurgical procedure for people with Parkinson’s, as Davis Phinney offers a wealth of information on this particular treatment. This was previously a high-performing keyword for our program, so we saw a loss in both traffic and conversions when it was paused.

Any more Google Grant questions?

Check out some of our other blog posts on common Google Grant questions and other digital marketing trends. If there is a topic you’d like to see covered, please reach out to us and let us know!

Other resources:

The Big Easy Guide to Keyword Research for Businesses – Wordstream
Basic Tips for Building a Keywords List – Google Support
Why Optimizing for Quality Score Still Matters & How to Do It – Search Engine Journal

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