The 2018 Google Grants Changes (Part II): Strategies for Minimizing Risks

In Digital, Featured, News by Daniel Clotfelter

A couple of weeks ago, in our blog post The 2018 Google Grants Changes (Part I): What Do They Mean for You?, we talked about how Google Grants policies have changed for 2018. There are two core components:

  1. the Maximize Conversions change
  2. the policy changes

We’ll dig in more to maximizing the benefits of these changes in my next post (Part III), but this week I wanted to talk a little bit about some really practical strategies for minimizing the risks associated with these changes:

#1 Adopt a conversion-centric mindset

If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em. If you shift your approach from maximizing clicks and spend to maximizing valuable website actions, and then judge your account on the basis of its ability to drive those actions, you’ll have a competitive advantage over other nonprofits. As Google shifts the environment, nonprofits who have embraced the trend will be more agile and able to adapt, giving them an edge over nonprofits who are resisting the changes. Policies that punish high-click strategies and reward high-conversion strategies will help you and hurt your competitors.

#2 Identify high impression, low CTR keywords

That 5 percent CTR can be a difficult bar for nonprofits to hit. The easiest way to start bringing up the CTR is to find the biggest offenders: the keywords with a lot of impressions and not a lot of clicks.

When you identify those keywords, you have several options. You can either:

  1. Make the match type more narrow.
    If that keyword is using “broad” match type, consider switching to “phrase” or “exact.”
  2. Change the keyword to be a bit more relevant to your ad.
    Consider using phrases with four or more words that are relevant to your ad copy rather than really broad two- to three-word keywords.
  3. Change the ads to be more relevant to your keyword.
    More on that below!
  4. Pause the keyword entirely.
#3 Test more ad copy

There are two main reasons why someone may not click on your ad. The first is that the ad really isn’t relevant to the search. For example, if you have an ad to promote your homeless shelter, targeting “animal shelter” keywords are likely to lead to low click-through rates. The second reason is that the ad copy just isn’t very compelling. Good ad copy is emotional, relevant, and has a clear call to action. Always test multiple ad variations (you’re required now to test at least two!), and make sure you’re regularly pausing your worst ads and writing new ads to try to beat your best ads.

#4 AdWords Express

Another option would be to abandon classic AdWords and switch to AdWords Express. For very small organizations that have a very small or non-existent marketing budget, this might be the best solution. However, for almost everyone else, AdWords Express is a bad idea. It provides an extremely limited toolset to make sure you’re using AdWords account strategically and efficiently.  Paid search is such an important platform, and Google Grants are such an incredible opportunity for nonprofits, that leaving the entire budget to Google to do with what they will is not recommended.

Need help?

Do you want to learn more about how to best implement these strategies, or do you need help getting the most of your Google Grant? If so, please contact me at and I’ll put you in touch with one of our certified Google Partners here at Masterworks!