Frequent problems in Google Ad Grants

Steps to get the most out of your $10,000 monthly budget from

Find out what problems are limiting your results and how to solve them

IMPORTANT: This content is not updated with the latest developments (new requirements, tools, strategies, etc.). Instead, we recommend the new Google Ad Grants Course (updated and more comprehensive).

How is this guide different from others?

Most guides give standard recommendations, as if all organizations were the same and all accounts were in the same situation. But the reality is not like that. Each account has different problems and should be treated differently.

Following a Google Ads guide (not specific to Google Grants) can be even more dangerous, because Google Grants has special requirements and limitations. Many tips that are great for a normal Google Ads account are a disaster for Google Grants accounts (they can even lead to getting your account deactivated or canceled by Google).

In this guide, we focus on solving the main problems that we find in Google Grants accounts. Many of these problems stem from the specific conditions and requirements of this program.

It's very easy to launch campaigns in Google Ads, but it is not easy to get the most out of it. There are dozens of configuration options and millions of possible combinations.

If you focus on optimizing things that are not the main problems of your account, you will be wasting your time, you will not achieve great results and you will continue to waste a large part of your budget.

In this guide, we help you identify the main problem of your Google Grants account, and we explain what specific actions will help you solve that problem. This way, you will make the most of your time and resources.

Once you have solved that initial problem, you can carry out a new analysis to detect and solve the new main problem (which is limiting the growth of your account now) and so on.

This process of continuous improvement (inspired by the Theory of Restrictions), is the best way to optimize your Google Grants account to the maximum and achieve the best possible results.

Frequent problems in Google Grants:

  1. We don't know where to start
  2. We spend all the monthly budget
  3. We don't receive many clicks (we leave a lot of budget unused)
  4. We receive many clicks but not many conversions
  5. Our average CTR is below 7%
  6. We don't have time to manage the account properly

In this guide, we assume that your organization has an active Google Grants account.

If you haven't applied for your account yet, check our how to apply for Google Grants guide.

If you had an account but it was suspended due to a breach of the program's requirements, check our reactivation guide.

A) We have Google Grants but we don't know where to start

If you have an approved and active Google Grants account, but you do not know how Google Ads works or if you are complying with the requirements of Google Grants, we recommend the following steps:

1) Evaluate if you have enough time to manage the account properly

If you don't have knowledge of the subject but do have plenty of time, you can learn. There's plenty of information online, starting with this guide, the official Google Ads guides, and the official Google Grants guides.

But if you don't have time available, that doesn't have an easy solution. Optimizing a Google Grants account requires recurring work (minimum 5 hours a month) and quite a lot of setup work at first.

The main recurring tasks are:

  • Review reports in Google Ads and Google Analytics
  • Pause, change and add keywords
  • Pause, change and add ads
  • Create and optimize web pages ("landing pages")
  • Do A/B tests inside Google Ads and also website tests
  • Set up and review conversion tracking
  • Set up and review automations
  • Check that all Google Ad Grants requirements are met
  • Review what's new in Google Ads and evaluate which new features should be tried

If you don't have time or prefer to dedicate it to other tasks, we recommend that you hire an expert (if possible, an expert in Google Grants, not in Google Ads in general).

2) Check the Google Grants requirements

It's vital that you know all Google Grants' requirements, since Google can temporarily deactivate your account in case of any infringement and even permanently cancel it in case of repeated or severe breaches.

We recommend that you carefully read the Ad Grants Policy Compliance Guide.

Another useful resource is the Ad Grants Account Review Dashboard. It will allow you to evaluate at a glance if your account is complying with the policies and also detect some opportunities for improvement. Save that link and visit it at least once a month.

3) Do not use Google Smart Campaigns

Smart Campaigns are configured almost automatically based on the content of your website, with little manual intervention.

It's an option aimed at organizations that have little knowledge of Google Ads and almost no time to manage campaigns.

In theory it sounds good, but we do not recommend it. It is a very limited system (you cannot adapt many things to your needs), and it rarely achieves better results than standard campaigns.

It's common for the Smart Campaign system to make mistakes, waste a large part of your budget and miss interesting opportunities to promote your organization.

If you are using Smart Campaigns from the beginning, clicking on "Tools" in the top menu should show you an option to change to "Expert Mode". After that, you can manually configure all the campaigns to your needs, following the advice in this guide.

4) Go to the relevant problem in this guide

Review the other problems we discussed in this guide and evaluate what is the main problem that your account has right now.

  1. We don't know where to start
  2. We spend all the monthly budget
  3. We don't receive many clicks (we leave a lot of budget unused)
  4. We receive many clicks but not many conversions
  5. Our average CTR is below 7%
  6. We don't have time to manage the account properly

If you are starting with Google Grants or have "inherited" an account with little activity, usually the main problem will be "We receive many clicks but not many conversions".

B) We usually spend all the monthly budget (or we are close to reaching it)

How do I check if we have this problem?

The monthly budget is $10,000 a month, which is divided at the operational level into $329/day.

Some organizations have Grants Pro, with a bigger budget ($40,000 per month), but they are only a few organizations and Google no longer grants these Pro accounts.

You can see how much you are spending each month in the general campaign report, filtering the last 30 days and looking at the beginning of the “Cost” column:

Why is it a problem?

Spending all the budget is not a problem if it is well invested, in fact it's the ideal situation. But in most cases there are opportunities to squeeze more "juice" out of that budget.

The optimization strategy in this case is very different from the strategies that should be followed in most Google Grants accounts, which are far from the budget limit and therefore do not have to worry about the issues that we discuss below.

How do I solve it?

1) Pause or allocate a low budget to non-priority campaigns

If there is not enough budget for everything, the budget must go to the high-priority campaigns.

Nonprofits usually have different objectives and different audiences (donors, volunteers, users/beneficiaries, the general public...). You have to prioritize them to know where to dedicate more budget and optimization efforts.

Each organization is different, but 3 questions are useful for prioritizing in most cases:

  • What is most important now for your organization? (donations, volunteers, visibility of certain programs...).
  • What is giving you better results? (which campaigns are bringing more volume of conversions and a lower cost per conversion).
  • Where do you have more opportunity for growth? (because there are no other nonprofits doing the same, because you could easily improve the campaigns and multiply results...)

For example, you may have campaigns promoting articles on your blog, and that has some value for your organization, but not too much. If those campaigns are "stealing" budget from campaigns with higher strategic value, then they are a problem.

If certain campaigns are not providing value (few conversions or low real value for the organization), we recommend pausing them directly.

If they are providing some value, but are not crucial to the organization, you can choose to reduce their budgets.

You can check this in the campaign report, looking at the columns of conversions, cost per conversion and profitability (value of conversions / cost). You will probably have to add those columns before to the report, by clicking on "COLUMNS"):

The idea is the most important campaigns should always have enough budget. Only if you have some unused budget it should go to "secondary" campaigns.

2) Remove non-priority goals

If your Google Grants account includes goals that are not a priority for your organization (for example, users staying more than X seconds on your website), we recommend removing them.

You should leave only the goals/conversions that have a clear value for your organization (new donations, volunteers, subscribers, event attendees...).

This is recommended for every account, but it's especially important if you are running out of budget.

Google uses machine-learning systems to bring you more conversions. By eliminating non-priority conversions, you make sure you don't waste money on bringing you more secondary conversions and focus on bidding strongly for essential conversions.

You can check the conversions that you have active in the top menu of Tools, then "MEASUREMENT"> "Conversions":

3) Control the CPA or ROAS

CPA (cost per action) and ROAS (return on ad spend) are the most important metrics for evaluating the results of Google Grants campaigns.

ROAS is generally used if you can give a monetary value to each conversion and the CPA when that is not possible.

We recommend giving a value in $ (even if approximate) to each conversion and using ROAS as the primary metric. It's more accurate than assuming that all types of conversions have the same value. For example, it clearly does not have the same value to receive a $500 donation and get a new subscriber for the newsletter.

But if you have different campaigns for different purposes (for example, one for donations, one for volunteers...), CPA is not a bad option.

In any case, the key if you are running out of budget is to have control of the profitability that your organization is achieving (CPA or ROAS), to give more priority to the most profitable campaigns and control that money is not wasted on unprofitable ads.

This can be done basically in 2 ways:

A) Change bid strategy to "target ROAS" or "target CPA" (instead of "Maximize clicks" or "Maximize conversions", which are recommended for accounts that are far from spending all their budget).

With these options, Google's automatic bidding system will try to get you all the possible conversions, without exceeding the ROAS/CPA goal that you have set up.

The system will try different combinations (keywords, ads, devices, locations...) and will bid more for the ones where it predicts that can give more conversions.

If the system finds impossible to get conversions at that CPA/ROAS for certain combinations, it will stop bidding on them (your ads will stop appearing in those keywords, locations, etc.).

In general, we recommend this option. Google's automatic system is far from perfect, but it saves a lot of work and achieves better results than many manual optimizations.

You can quickly check and change the bidding system of all your campaigns in the "Settings" section:

Only if you want more control and have time for an in-depth review, you may be interested in the following option.

B) Manually pause ads and unprofitable keywords

You can manually review the complete lists of keywords and ads, to pause all those that have a very high CPA or a very low ROAS.

You can look it up in the keyword and ad reports by looking at the "Cost / Conversion" (CPA) and/or "Conversion / Cost" (ROAS) columns (you may need to add those columns to the report before)

If they also have a low CTR, you kill two birds with one stone: You increase profitability and the average CTR of your account (which must always be above 5% or Google will deactivate the account).

This allows you to have more control over what is working in your account and can be useful to optimize it further. For example, you can test more ads or keywords similar to the ones that are working better.

You can also do a combination of the two strategies: Manually pause what is clearly giving bad results (looking at CTR, CPA and/or ROAS) and let Google's automatic bidding system decide what to do with the rest.

4) Prune your keyword lists

In addition to pausing words that are clearly giving poor results or letting the Google system decide on which keywords should bid more, you can make other useful changes:

Change keyword match

In general, we recommend using the modified broad match ("+keyword"), as it is a good balance between visibility and control.

But if your organization is already running low on the budget, it may be wise to pause words in broad match and add them with other matches. Phrase match and exact match allows you to define more precisely which searches you are interested in.

You can also test different matches at the same time in the same ad group and evaluate which ones give you better results in each case. You can then pause the keywords that are not profitable enough or lower your average CTR too much.

To learn more about match types and their settings, read this article.

Add negative keywords

Negative keywords prevent your ad from showing up in searches that are not interesting for your campaign.

For example, if your organization is focused on wild animals and not pets, you may find it helpful to add "dog" and "cat" as negative keywords.

Negative keywords can improve all the key metrics: CTR, Quality Score and profitability should go up, while CPC and CPA go down.

Sources of ideas for negative words:

  • Check the "search terms" report within each of your campaigns (it's the most useful source of all, but you have to check it frequently to avoid losing budget for weeks in non-relevant searches)
  • Use the Google Ads keyword tool
  • Use thesaurus and synonym dictionaries.
  • Do Google searches and see what terms are mentioned in the results.

You can check and add negative keywords in the specific report within the "Keywords" section. Make sure you are adding them to the correct campaign or ad group.

There are more possible actions to take full advantage of the Google Grants budget, but they require more knowledge and time. For example:

  • Restructure campaigns (try with different budgets, bid strategies, locations and languages)
  • Campaign Experiments
  • In-depth optimization of Quality Scores
  • Customized reports to make better decisions
  • Check e-commerce tracking and goals' values
  • Analyze attribution models
  • Consider specific mobile-only campaigns
  • Optimize conversion rates

C) Our campaigns do not receive many clicks (we leave a lot of budget unused)

How do I check if we have this problem?

Here we would be in the opposite problem to the previous one. We are not taking advantage of the Google Grants budget ($10,000/month) to generate a high volume of clicks.

You can see how many you are spending each month in the general campaign report. Filter the last 30 days and look at the beginning of the "Cost" column:

You can also look at the clicks and costs that each campaign generates in this report.

Why is it a problem?

It is not always a problem, there are some organizations that have a tiny potential audience (especially local organizations). If they are already reaching that entire audience, there is no point in "forcing" campaigns to reach people who are not your audience.

But in our experience, virtually every organization misses opportunities to reach more people in their audience and could get more results out of their Google Grants budget.

Generally, it is due to lack of time to manage the account well, because they don't know all Google Ads options or they haven't done an in-depth keyword analysis.

How do I solve it?

1) Make sure all campaigns have a budget of $329/day

If you are not close to spending the entire budget of your Google Grants ($10,000/month or $329/day), you do not have to worry about distributing it among the different campaigns. You just have to make sure that no campaign runs out of budget.

Simply put $329 a day as a budget for each campaign. It's the easiest way to avoid losing clicks just because some campaign runs out of budget.

You can configure and change the budget of all your campaigns in the main campaign report:

2) Add new keywords (and ad groups if necessary)

You can get more clicks without adding more words, simply by optimizing certain settings (which we discuss in the following points).

But the change that usually brings a greater increase in clicks is to add new keywords to connect with a much higher volume of searches/users.

You have to put yourself in the place of the people you want to reach (your target audience) and think broadly about what words they may be searching on Google. Not only when they directly seek to connect with organizations like yours, but also other related terms that can lead them to your website.

For example, apart from the obvious words ("nonprofit", "donations", "volunteering"...), we can use:

  • Informational words: "tips on X", "what is X", "facts about X"...
  • Words that indicate a willingness to help: "how to help X", "fight against X", "save X"...
  • Words to promote local events: "events in X", "charity events"...
  • Words to promote products or services: "charity gifts", "gifts that give back", "fair trade", "X shirts", "X classes"...

With a little work and creativity, you can discover searches that will allow you to reach thousands of potential collaborators.

There are some limitations to the use of certain keywords (specific limitations of Google Grants and restrictions of Google Ads in general). We summarize the main requirements of Google Grants here:

  • Keywords have to focus on the mission of your organization and be relevant to your programs. Paid products or services can be advertised, but they have to be connected to the organization's mission.
  • Single-word keywords are not allowed (with some exceptions).
  • Generic terms are not allowed (sometimes the limit is not very clear, but accounts are not usually deactivated for using generic terms, they just disapprove individual terms).
  • All activated keywords must have a quality score of 3 or more (you can configure a rule to automatically stop words that do not meet the required quality score)

Sources for keyword ideas:

  • Google keyword tool (gives recommendations based on the content of your website or based on a list of keywords you provide).
  • Google Analytics (check the pages that get more conversions and try to use more keywords related to those pages)
  • Google Search Console (check the words that have more impressions)
  • SEO/SEM tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Ubbersuggest...
  • "Spy tools" to discover the keywords used by other organizations (SEMrush, iSpionage, Spyfu...)
  • Internal resources (check your website and blog, ask workers and volunteers for ideas...)

How to choose keywords:

  • Shorter, generic keywords have a higher search volume. But they can also generate problems: they can be rejected by Google, lower your average CTR below the required 5%, waste budget and not bring conversions, not achieve the required Quality Score...
  • You get a higher conversion rate and CTR with "long-tail" keywords (longer keywords that refer to very specific things, such as "environmental nonprofit donation Chicago"). But they usually have low search volume, so it's difficult to use all your budget if you only use "long-tail" words.
  • Therefore, most accounts get the best results with a balance. You can try more generic words if you need more traffic and limit this type of words when you are close to spending all the budget or when the average CTR of the account falls below 5% (if your account is below 5% for two months, Google will deactivate your account).
3) Add new areas or languages

Ask yourself if there are areas or languages ​​that may be relevant to your organization's mission, but they are not included in your campaigns right now.

You can easily check the countries and languages ​​of all your campaigns in the "Settings" section:

To add new zones or languages, you can select several campaigns in this same report and change all of them at once. Or you can individually enter the settings of each campaign and make the appropriate changes there.

A couple of common examples:

  • Most organizations only activate their campaigns for local "official languages" or the language of their ads/website. But there are plenty of people bilingual people that have their browser set to one language but do some keyword searches in other languages. Therefore, you can increase visibility by activating your campaign for English + all local languages, maybe even every language of the list.
  • Some organizations focus all their campaigns only on the countries where they have "offices", but maybe they have some initiatives that are relevant and useful in many other countries (for example, informational campaigns with a global audience).
4) Bid using "Maximize clicks" or "Maximize conversions"

If you are not using your entire budget, there is generally no point in using the options that limit your bids:

  • Manual bids (it takes more work to optimize the campaigns with this option and in Google Grants they limit your bids to €2 CPC, which can significantly reduce the clicks you receive)
  • Bidding with a target CPA or ROAS (it's better than manual bidding in general, but if you are not short on budget, it's better to leave the system to bid as much as it wants, without a target figure to limit it).

If you have conversion tracking well configured, we recommend using "Maximize conversions" as your bid strategy (or "Maximize value of conversions" if you have given value to all your conversions).

"Maximizing clicks" is a good option if the only thing you are interested in is receiving many clicks (visitors to your website), but usually what is really interesting is getting visitors who take action (complete conversions).

You can check and change the bid strategy of all your campaigns quickly in the "Configuration" report.

5) Put more keywords in broad match and maybe reduce negative words

You can choose different types of match for your keywords.

Broad match makes your ads show up in more searches and therefore increases the chances of receiving clicks.

The same thing happens when you remove negative words; your ads will show in searches that were not active before because they included those negative words.

It's a quick way to increase clicks, but you have to be careful, because at the same time it can reduce the CTR of your ads, which in turn reduces the quality score. So you can end up paying more for each click and even risking your account (if the global CTR falls below 5% or if you maintain keywords with a quality score below 3).

Therefore, it is a tactic that we recommend using with caution. Basically as an "emergency" option if you don't get good results with the other options.


There are more possible actions to get more clicks and improve results, but they require more knowledge and time. For example:

  • Try dynamic insertion ads (DKI)
  • Campaign Experiments
  • In-depth optimization of Quality Scores

D) Our campaigns receive enough clicks but not many conversions

How do I check if we have this problem?

In the Campaigns report, select the last 60 days and look at the "Conversions" column (if it does not appear by default, click on "COLUMNS" and search there to add the "Conversions" column to the report).

We also recommended to check if the conversions are configured properly. You can check it by clicking on the top menu (Tools, then "MEASUREMENT"> "Conversions").

If you don't see any conversions on that page, you should configure at least one right now.

If it shows conversions with an error in the "Status" column, check carefully the settings of those conversions.

If they are configured OK but are receiving 0 conversions (or very few), you should probably add new conversions that have more volume (Google's automatic optimization systems don't work well without enough conversion volume).

For more information on how to check and configure conversions in Google Ads, you can check this article.

Why is it a problem?

Google Grants campaigns are created to achieve certain objectives of your organization (which will be counted as conversions).

If your campaigns are receiving a lot of clicks but are not getting conversions, you are wasting time and money (a considerable amount of it: $10,000 each month).

You have to optimize the campaigns to get more conversions, it's not really useful to have many visitors who do not convert.

How do I solve it?

1) Choose and configure conversions carefully

The first and most important thing is to determine what your organization wants to achieve with Google Ads campaigns.

If we do not have well-defined conversions, it is almost impossible to have good results in Google Ads. A poor choice or configuration of conversions brings major problems:

  • You will be missing key information to optimize your account. You won't be able to tell which keywords, ads or landing pages are providing results.
  • Google's automatic systems will probably give you bad results. Their artificial intelligence needs to know for what objectives it should optimize your campaigns. Otherwise it will not work correctly.
  • Your account could be suspended (having configured conversion goals properly configured is one of the requirements of Google Ad Grants since 2018).

The ideal goals for Google Grants have to meet several requirements:

  • Important to your organization (e.g., new donations, volunteers, emails...)
  • Measurable online (you must be able to register it every time it happens on your website)
  • Enough volume (if it happens less than 10 times per month, it's not a good goal to use in Google Ads)

You also have to think carefully about the configuration details of each conversion goal. You should ask yourself:

  • Does it have value every time the user does it or only the first time? (According to that we will configure it to count several conversions or only one if the same user does that action several times)
  • How long does it usually take to get a user to convert? (According to that we will configure the time of the conversion window). In general we recommend setting it to 90 days.
  • Which attribution model fits best? (in general we recommend "Decline in time", not "Last click" as it comes by default)
  • What is the value of each conversion? (even if it is a conversion without a clear monetary value, we recommend giving an approximate value based on internal data or according to its priority level compared to other conversions that you are going to configure)

Here you can see the data that Google Ads will ask for when configuring a new conversion:

You can learn more about how to configure each goal in Google Ads reading this article. Or you can configure the goals in Google Analytics and then import them into Google Ads (this is what we generally recommend).

Each organization has different goals, but the most frequent conversions for nonprofits are:

  • Get more donations (online, offline, in-kind, memberships...)
  • Increase online sales (products, services, event tickets...)
  • Increase peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns or events
  • Capture emails (newsletter subscribers, possible donors, registered website users...)
  • Obtain followers on social networks
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Collect signatures for petitions or popular initiatives
  • Reach beneficiaries or clients of the organization's programs
  • Attract sponsors or corporate partners
  • Receive calls
  • Receive online chats
  • Receive emails (form submissions or clicks on the email address)
  • Promote specific campaigns (e.g., Giving Tuesday, International X Day, Christmas donations...)
  • Increase visits to certain web pages that indicate a possible offline action (contact page, event finder...)
  • Increase visits to informative articles that are fundamental to the organization's mission or to publicize the organization itself
  • Increase downloads of certain online resources (PDFs, tools, apps ...)
  • Increase interactions with certain elements of the web (videos, surveys, search engines, print or share buttons...)

Depending on your goals and the volume of conversions, you will have to decide whether to give more weight to:

  • Micro-conversions: Actions whose impact on the organization is indirect. For example, users watching a video or signing up for the newsletter.
  • Macro-conversions: Actions with a direct and significant impact on the organization. For example, receiving a donation or adding a new volunteer.

If we have a high volume of macro-conversions, it is probably best to configure only those as the objectives of our campaigns.

However, if we have low volume of macro-conversions, it is recommended to include also micro-conversions as objectives of our campaigns. Otherwise, the Google Analytics machine learning system will not have enough data to learn what works best and optimize campaigns properly.

It also depends on the focus of each campaign. If they are top-of-funnel campaigns (whose objective is mainly to inform or give more visibility to an initiative) or bottom-of-funnel (to attract donations, volunteers...)

NOTE: We are talking here about the conversions that we will configure to use in Google Ads campaigns. Google Analytics is a separate topic.

We recommend to record all conversions (micro and macro) in Google Analytics, since it will give us extra information to make better analysis. For example, we could discover that those who watch a certain video later end up donating and increase donations by giving more visibility to that video.

But you should not import all Google Analytics goals into Google Ads, only the ones that are most relevant to optimize the campaigns.

2) Improve landing pages

To get a lot of conversions, you need to succeed in 3 steps:

  • Keywords that fit your goals and have a lot of traffic.
  • Ads that are attractive to your target audience.
  • Landing pages that convince the user to complete the conversion action (fill out a form, download a document, donate...)

If you are getting a lot of clicks and few conversions, there are probably problems in the last step: Your landing pages.

There could also exist problems with your keywords or ads (for example, that they are not very relevant to your goals or they attract users who are not your target audience).

But usually there will be things to improve on landing pages if there is a lot of traffic and very few conversions.

Tips for improving landing pages:

Avoid using your homepage for your ads

Typically, website homepages contain many different contents, aimed at different audiences.

For ads it's usually better to use specific pages that speak only about 1 topic and focus on 1 specific goal.

To maximize conversions, the whole user flow (keyword > ad > landing page) must fit perfectly, everything has to respond exactly to what the user has searched for.

For example, if you are advertising for "charity race" searches, your ad should focus on the charity race you are organizing and lead to a specific page with all the details of the race.

If you send them to the homepage, where you mention the race but also 10 other things, users will "get lost" among all that irrelevant information and many of them will probably leave your website quickly, without signing up for the race.

The exception may be brand searches, which is when the user searches Google for the name of your organization or something clearly linked to it. In these cases it's usually not clear a priori what the user needs, so the homepage can be a good destination for these ads.

But even for brand searches it can be interesting to test the homepage against an alternative landing focused exclusively on the main objective of your Google Grants campaigns (for example, getting donations or signing up for your newsletter). And then analyze what page gets more conversions (the homepage or the landing page created for that ad).

Evaluates what is reasonable to ask the user in each case

Your organization's goals and the needs of your target audience should match in your campaigns. If they don't match, it will hurt conversions and even your organization's reputation.

For example, let's assume you have an environmental nonprofit and the main goal of your Google Grants campaigns is to get more donations.

If you advertise for the search "donate for the environment" it's reasonable to ask them for a donation directly on the landing page (probably explaining before what organization does and why they should donate).

On the other hand, for the search for "recycling tips" it's not reasonable to ask them for a donation directly. It's not what they are looking for and probably almost none of those who do that search are willing to donate at that time.

In these cases, you will probably get better results if you go step by step:

  1. First by showing them an article with the information they are looking for.
  2. At the end of the article, you offer them an option to learn more about your cause and/or keep in contact with your organization (sign up for the newsletter, sign a petition, watch a video and perhaps share it on social networks...)
  3. In the future, you can ask them for things that involve a greater commitment (donations, volunteering...). But only when they already know your organization well and are commited to the cause, not in the first contact.

These things need a "courtship" period. It usually doesn't work well if you propose a "marriage" on the first date.

For example, BatCon offers free downloads of useful resources related to the user's search, in exchange for providing their email, name and zip code. They also show below the form more information and even an explanatory video.

NRDC shows a highlighted block at the end of an article, inviting to take action (sign a petition related to the article):

AWF goes one step further and ask for a direct donation at the bottom of an information page. It is "risky", but they do it quite well because they present their solutions to that specific problem, reasons to donate and exclusive benefits received by donors. And they also give a secondary option to sign a petition (without donating):

Divide your ad groups

Sometimes the problem of a landing page is not the content of the page itself, but the kind of visitors that reach it.

If you have an ad group with dozens of different keywords, it's very difficult for one landing page to match well with all those different keywords/searches.

In order to improve the match between landing pages and searches, the ideal is to have a different ad group for each keyword (single-keyword ad groups or SKAGs).

With SKAGs we make sure that each ad and each landing page is perfectly adapted to the keyword that the user has searched for. We give the user a better experience and increase the chances that they will end up converting.

If your Google Grants account has hundreds of keywords, it's probably not feasible to create SKAGs to all of them (create a specific group, ad, and landing page for each keyword).

But you should create SKAGs at least for the most important keywords in your account (by volume and conversion potential) and try to make smaller ad groups for the rest (spread the keywords between more ad groups).

Try different page versions

Probably the first design you have created for a page is not the best possible, it's almost impossible to nail it in the first try. If you don't try multiple designs and contents, you will never know if there is a version that brings you many more conversions.

There are no universal rules for the perfect landing page, but here are some useful concepts:

  • Start with an eye-catching title that grabs the user's attention and matches what the ad mentioned.
  • Explain the benefits of what you offer, in easy to understand terms (without abusing technical terms, acronyms or anything that may confuse the user).
  • Use visual resources whenever possible (many people don't want to read a lot of text, so try to give them images and videos too).
  • Provide elements of trust (testimonials, press appearances, statistics about your organization and its programs...)
  • It includes calls to action, it must be clear what is the next step for the user. Big buttons usually work better than links. If it's a long page, include several buttons along the page.
  • Include the relevant legal information at the bottom of the page (name of your organization, identification number, address, contact details, privacy policy...). It increases users' trust (they know who is behind the website) and you can have problems with Google if that information does not appear on your landing pages.
  • If you cannot create attractive landing pages using your current website system (CMS), you can use specific tools such as Unbounce or Leadpages.

Pathfinder has a good example. They advertise for searches related to HIV / AIDS and show a landing page with a well-thought structure:

  • First, they present interesting facts about the problem
  • Then they explain the initiatives carried out by their organization to fight that problem (with links to specific projects for those who want more details)
  • They also feature other informative articles related to the topic (we don't recommend this always, you can lose conversions if users "get lost" reading a lot and end up not taking action)
  • They then introduce key employees (they put a "face" on your organization, quite useful for trust)
  • Once the user is familiar with the organization, they give 3 different options to help: Donate, become an ambassador of the cause or share the page on social networks.
  • Finally, at the bottom of the page, they show a form to receive news related to the topic (perfect for keeping in touch with those who are not yet ready to become donors or collaborators).

3) Boost keywords that are converting

You can see keywords with more conversions in the Google Ads keyword report.

We recommend ordering the table by conversion rate and filtering so that only the keywords with more than 50 monthly clicks are shown (to focus first on the ones with more traffic and therefore more potential to make a significant difference in results).

Try to multiply the impact of keywords that already have a good conversion rate (if you have any). You can do this in various ways:

  • Find synonyms and also add them to your keyword lists.
  • Create an ad group for each of these keywords that convert well, with specific ads for each keyword. It is the SKAGs concept that we explained above. This should increase the quality score, clicks and conversions of those keywords.
  • Try the same type of texts/hooks that you use in the ads of those keywords for other ad groups (reuse in other campaigns what works).
  • Make sure the campaigns that have those keywords always have enought budget. If necessary, create new campaigns specifically for them (so they are not sharing budget with "mediocre" keywords).


There are more possible actions to increase conversions, but they require more knowledge and time. For example:

  • A/B tests for landing pages
  • Try call extensions
  • Configure call-tracking on landing pages
  • Try remarketing campaigns
  • Make seasonal adjustments
  • In-depth optimization of Quality Scores
  • Analyze attribution models
  • Consider specific mobile-only campaigns

E) Average CTR of our account is below 7%

How do I check if we have this problem?

You can check it in the campaign report. Select the last 60 days (which is the period Google takes into account for this) and look at the first figure that appears in the CTR column (it's the average of all the campaigns).

Why is it a problem?

One of the requirements of Google Grants is that the general CTR of the account does not drop below 5%. If you have been below 5% in the last 2 months, Google will deactivate your account.

We say it is a problem below 7% because you are already on dangerous ground. You should start optimizing to increase the CTR, otherwise you may get into trouble at some point.

Having a high CTR (minimum 7%) gives you a "cushion" to try new initiatives (which can have a low CTR and therefore lower the average to dangerous levels if you were already almost at the 5% limit).

How do I solve it?

There are mainly two ways you can increase your account's CTR: Improving your ads and optimizing your keyword list.

1) Improve ads

A low CTR will not always be the fault of the ads. Still, if you manage to raise the CTR just by improving the ads it is the ideal solution, because it's all pros and no cons (number of clicks and conversions go up, quality score goes up and CPC goes down).

The other main option (optimizing keyword lists) usually involves appearing in fewer searches. In other words, it involves sacrificing visits and conversions to keep the CTR at a good level.

Recommendations for improving Google Ads:

Look at the competition

The main reason why users don't click on your ad is that they see another result that catches their attention more (be it an ad or an organic result from Google).

So it makes a lot of sense to start by analyzing what you're "fighting" against.

Start by looking at the ads used by other websites that advertise in the same searches as your organization and try to overcome them.

You don't always have to reinvent the wheel, just being a little more compelling than them may be enough to get great results.

If they have a good marketing team, they have probably tried a lot different ads and have concluded that their current version is the ad that works best for that keyword. So it's a good idea to use what works for them as a starting point for your own ads (but not just copy them, try to improve them).

Another useful resource is the "Auctions" report within the Google Ads dashboard. You can check it within any ad group.

Competitors that have the most impressions and appear above you more frequently will be the ones you should analyze in more depth.

There are specific tools to check the ads that your competitors are showing for different keywords (Spyfu, iSpionage, SEMRush...). But in most cases they are not necessary, it's enough with what we discussed above.

Try different extensions

Google Grants requires you to have at least 2 sitelink extensions in your campaigns. Extensions help to increase CTR (which also helps increase quality score). And they improve the user experience if used adequately.

We recommend going beyond the minimum and trying many different extensions to see which ones get more CTR (also more conversions, but if the CTR is dangerously low in your account, that should be the priority now).

Main types of extensions:

  • Callout (interesting if all the things you want to explain to the user does not fit in the description of the ad)
  • Sitelinks (interesting if you want to give users options to visit other pages that may interest them more than the main landing page for the ad). For example, you can choose to link to pages about your organization, articles related to that topic, direct links to donation or volunteering...
  • Telephone (interesting if you want to receive more calls)
  • Location (interesting if you want more visits to your premises or offices)

Rescue makes use of sitelinks to make their ad stand out more and to show alternative pages. And at the same time they show their phone:

United Way shows different sitelinks so that the user can choose where she wants to start:

To learn more about the different types of extensions, read this article.

Try different approaches in your ads

We recommend testing 4 or 5 ads simultaneously for each ad group.

It should be a continuous process of improvement, pausing the ads that do not give good results and adding new ads every 2 months (taking advantage of what you have learned that works better in previous ads and testing new concepts).

Most ads are boring and impersonal. You have to make your ads stand out above the rest and connect with the user.

Some concepts that you can try in your ads:

  • Try different types of ads (expanded vs. responsive)
  • Show data (statistics, results...)
  • Highlight benefits for the user (your solutions and advantages, how is it different from what other organizations or websites offer...)
  • Base the ad on emotions (maybe even tell a short story)
  • Try different calls to action
  • Mention the keywords that the user has searched for (which is general recommendation) or try something more creative/original
  • Introduce elements of urgency (for example, that the event is taking place very soon or there are limited spots available)
  • Introduce local elements (mention the area or country you are targeting)
  • Introduce trust elements (testimonials, awards, accreditations...)
  • Try different formats (capitalized case, questions, exclamations...)
  • Try to mention a price or a recommended donation amount.

For example, Doctors Without Borders advertise for searches for "measles". They include in the ad some facts about measles and also benefits of donating to their organization:

2) Improve your keyword lists
Include more branded keywords

You can include in your campaigns the keywords that users are already using in Google to reach your website. It's usually the name of your organization, perhaps also the names of your programs or trademarks. You could include different ways of writing them and even typos.

It's an easy way to increase the average CTR of the account because those who search for your organization will click a lot on your ad (it's what they are looking for and oftentimes there will not other ads "competing" for their attention).

Apart from helping to improve the CTR average, branding campaigns can bring other advantages:

  • They "protect" against possible ads from the competition (they may be bidding for your name and getting clicks/visits from users who wanted to go to your website).
  • It allows you to test different types of messages (you can test different ads in brand campaigns and use what works best on other contexts: your homepage, other ad campaigns, etc.)
  • You can lead more people to the page that you want (for example, if you are doing a one-off campaign, you can highlight it in your branded ads and send more users to a specific landing page for that campaign, instead of sending them to the homepage).
Add negative keywords

If your ads are showing in searches that don't match what the ads are about, your CTR will be very low for those searches.

To make sure that's not happening, the first step is to look at the "Search Terms" report (inside the "Keywords" section) and sort by impressions.

If there are search terms that are not relevant for your goals and have a lot of impressions, you should add them as negative keywords.

Depending on the term, it may make sense to incorporate it whole keyword or just part of it. For example, if this report shows "dogs nonprofit donation" but your nonprofit has nothing to do with dogs, you should include "dogs" as a negative word (because you are interested in avoiding any search that includes "dogs", not just avoiding "dogs cultural donation").

If you have an average CTR well below 5%, consider also adding as negative keywords some terms that are relevant to your organization but have a very low CTR.

Change your keyword match

There are different types of keyword matching that you can use:

Broad match almost always achieves less CTR than phrase and exact match.

The explanation is simple: Broad match makes your ads show up in searches that were not exactly what you had defined or intended, and some of those searches will not be relevant to your ads.

Look at the "Search Terms" report to get an idea of ​​what is going on in each campaign and assess whether your ads are showing in many irrelevant searches or not.

Depending on what you see in that report and how far you are from reaching the minimum 5% average CTR, you can choose two options:

a) Make "radical" changes:

Pause all broad match keywords and add their equivalents with phrase or exact match (if they are not added already).

We recommend you to do it this way (pause and add), not edit the existing keywords to change the match, so that you can later compare the results of each match.

b) Make "smaller" changes:

Maintain most keywords with broad match (except those with disastrous CTRs), but incorporate their exact and phrase versions.

Google will test the different alternatives and you will be able to see later the CTR of each type of match.

Broad match keywords will probably receive less impressions, but you will not completely close that door (which can be interesting to discover new interesting searches).

Pause keywords with low CTR

It's one of the fastest ways to increase the average CTR, but it will also make you lose visitors and probably conversions. That's why we put it as the last option.

It's best to look at a report with the keywords sorted by impressions (since they are the keywords that can have the most impact on the average CTR of the account, keywords with few impressions can't move the average much).

In this report, you should pay attention to the CTR and conversion rate columns:

  • The first ones that you should pause are the ones that low CTR and low conversion percentage, since they are doing damage to your average CTR and they are also not contributing to your goals.
  • If after filtering out those paused keywords you are already above 5% average CTR, you can stop there for now (and focus more on the other possible improvements that we propose in this section).
  • If you are still well below 5%, you should continue to pause keywords that have a lot of impressions and low CTR. Maybe you can make some exceptions, keeping active some that have a high conversion rate (especially if they are important conversions for your nonprofit such as donations or volunteers).

It's possible that thanks to other improvements, the average CTR will improve and you can reactivate some of those keywords later. But for now the priority is to reach 5%, to save your account from being suspended by Google.

3) Other options (only if you use manual bidding)

If you use the Smart bidding options (Maximize conversions, maximize conversion value, target CPA or target ROAS), Google's system automatically handles many campaign variables (ad rotation; bidding for location, days/hours and audiences...)

Therefore you cannot play with these settings to increase your CTR, Google's AI already does it for you.

You can configure a -100% bid modification for a type of device (desktop, mobile or tablets), so that your ads stop showing on the devices with the worst CTR. But this is not recommended in almost any case (excluding some devices completely is a very extreme measure, there are usually better options).

On the other hand, if you use manual bids (although we do not recommend it)you can manually configure those variables (devices, locations, etc.) and change the elements with low CTR. For example:

  • You can check if you have ads with lots of impressions that don't have a good CTR and pause them.
  • You can lower bids for certain locations or devices where you have low CTR.

We do not go deeper into these options because manual bids are not recommended for the vast majority of Google Grants accounts.


There are more possible actions to increase CTR and improve results, but they require more knowledge and time. For example:

  • Try dynamic insertion ads (DKI)
  • Campaign Experiments
  • In-depth optimization of Quality Scores

F) We don't have time to maintain and optimize the Google Grants account

Optimizing a Google Grants account takes quite a bit of time in the beginning (it depends on the current state of the account and what needs to be improved).

It's not "set and forget" thing, it also involves recurring work: With 5 hours per month it can be maintained at a basic level. But we recommend dedicating more hours to optimize everything and get really good results.

Google can deactivate your account if it considers that it is not actively managed.

If you don't have a lot of time available, there are 2 options: Try to apply a lot of automation to reduce manual tasks or hire an expert to maintain and optimize the account.

A) Apply automation

One way to cut down on the work of managing a Google Grants account is to take advantage of the various automation features that the Google Ads platform allows.

You will still have to do many things manually and keep logging in periodically so that Google does not deactivate your account, but you can save time on repetitive tasks.

1) Configure automation rules

Through the Google Ads dashboard you can configure rules to make some automatic actions in your account.

A essential rule essential for all accounts is to automatically pause keywords whose quality score falls below 3 (not having keywords below 2 is a Google Grants requirement and reviewing this manually is not practical).

You can configure this rule by going to the top menu of tools> Actions> Rules.

Click on "+" and select "keyword rule". Then indicate quality score <= 2 and save the rule.

You can check the keywords reports later to review what keywords has been paused by the rule and assess whether it might be worth trying them with another match option (phrase or exact match), find synonyms that may work better or improve their ad group (SKAGs, more striking ads...).

You can also configure rules for email alerts (instead of automatically making changes). For example, you can set up an email notification for ads with 0 visits in the last 2 weeks. It's a way to detect problems.

You can see other examples of rules in this article.

2) Use external PPC software

You can also use external tools for Google Ads management that offer automation functions (Optmyzr, Adcore...)

We do not recommend them for Google Grants:

  • They are not tools designed for Google Grants accounts (you have to be careful so that they do not lead you to breach Google Grants requirements or optimize for things that do not usually matter in this type of account, such as reducing the cost per click).
  • They are not cheap tools as they are primarily aimed at advertisers who already spend a lot of money on ads.
  • They save a bit of work, but you still have to do a lot of things manually. It's not just setting up the tool and forget about managing your account, far from it.
  • You have to know how to configure them well to take full advantage of them and avoid mistakes.

If you don't mind investing some money to save work and achieve better results, we recommend hiring a Google Grants expert to manage your account.

The investment can be similar (even less depending on the software and the expert you compare) and the benefits are clear: An expert frees you from practically all the work and usually you get much better results than using an automated tool.

B) Hire an expert

We are experts ourselves, so we do not have a 100% neutral opinion, but there are 4 tips that we objectively consider that can help you choose the right expert:

  1. Find an expert in Google Grants (not Google Ads in general). An expert in Google Ads who does not know all the specific requirements of Google Grants and the specific needs of nonprofits is probably going to achieve worse results than an expert in Google Grants.
  2. Evaluate whether to delegate all the tasks related to the Google Grants account (maintenance and optimization of the account, ad copywriting, landing page design, A/B tests...). Or only certain tasks in which you lack time or knowledge to achieve good results.
  3. Keep in mind the price of the expert, but focus on results/ROI. It's not about finding the cheapest expert, but the one that manages to multiply your results. If they charge you very little, they will also spend very little time improving your account.
  4. If possible, try to get experts that offer guarantees (results or satisfaction). Even if a company has good references, they will probably also have failures. Each case is different and nobody gets great results always. But we think consultants should commit to their results: If they don't get good results, they shouldn't charge you.


There are more possible actions to save time and improve results, but they require more knowledge and time. For example:

  • Try dynamic insertion ads (DKI)
  • Use scripts
  • Use custom dashboards
  • Create custom alerts

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