Getting Started with Google Ad Grants – Guest blog by Anna Champ

16th May 2017

Google Grants should be a no-brainer for any charity. Google offers $10,000 a month to spend on advertising on their search engine, and for a small charity this can be more than your marketing budget! There are many benefits to having a Google Grants account, but I won’t go into those right now.

Google have some great documentation on how to apply for a Google Grants account, so here I’m going jump ahead and talk about setting up your first campaign and the process that you’ll go through every time you create a new campaign.

Creating the Campaign shell

Let’s start with a basic Brand Campaign for the fictional charity ‘Porcupine Trust’. Here’s a video showing you the steps to create this campaign (video).

Some key things to note here:

  • Type – You have to select Search Network Only as this is the only type of campaign you can set up in a Grants account.
  • Locations & Languages -You’ll probably be fine with the default for these, but if you’re working in a specific location e.g. Only in London, then you can target to this area only.
  • Default bid -How much you’re willing to pay per click. With Grants, your limit is always $2, so this is always a good starting point as you can change it later if necessary.
  • Budget – When first setting campaign budgets, it’s probably easiest to set a high amount and then edit it later. You have $330 a day to spend, so keep that in mind when setting up budgets for campaigns. Your collective daily budgets can exceed $330 a day, but Google won’t allow you to spend more than this.

Creating an Ad group

Ad Groups sit within Campaigns and are a way to create more specific ads within an umbrella group. Here’s a video showing you the steps to create an Ad Group (video).

For instance for our fictional charity ‘Porcupine Services’ could be a Campaign, but within that we might have ‘Porcupine Grooming’ and ‘Porcupine Walking’ ad groups which deal with those specific types of services. With the Brand campaign for Porcupine Trust, we’re just going to create one Ad group.

When setting this up you have to set up at least 1 ad and enter at least 1 keyword. You can then edit this later to expand it further.

Tips for creating ads:

  1. It’s a good idea to create a couple of ads so that you can try different messaging to see what performs best. You’re very limited in the number of characters that you can use so it’s likely you won’t be able to fit everything you’d like to say in a single ad, so you can test these elements across different ads to see what performs best.
  2. For brand in particular I recommend having one of the Headlines as your brand name.
  3. Something else to consider is including a CTA (call to action) in your ad, e.g. ‘donate now’, ‘find out more’ as this gives the user a reason to click on your ad.
  4. Make sure that you’re sending traffic to a highly relevant landing page and that your ad accurately reflects what the user will find on that page.

Google’s Ad Extensions are also definitely worth looking into after you’ve created your main ads. These are likely to improve your general ad performance, but they aren’t necessary when setting up a campaign.

Adding keywords and match types:

You can see that I used 3 types of punctuation when adding in keywords, these are the ‘match types’ which tell Google whether to show your ads depending on the terms searched by a user.

  • Exact – Designated by [square brackets] this means that ads will only be shown for the exact term or very close variations e.g. [Porcupine shoes] will only show for the search term Porcupine shoes or maybe Porcupine shoe
  • Phrase – Designated by “speech marks” this means that your ads will show whenever that phrase is used, in that order, in a search query e.g. “porcupine shoes” would match for ‘cheap porcupine shoes’ but not ‘porcupine pink shoes’
  • Broad Match Modifiers – Designated by a +plus +symbol immediately in front of a word, this tells Google that these words have to be included in the search query but can do so in any order.
  • Broad Match – this has no punctuation and when keywords are entered like this you are telling Google that if a search query includes any of those words, in any order that you’d be willing to pay e.g. Porcupine shoes might match for ‘brown shoes’.
    • I’d recommend being wary of the Broad match option because this doesn’t give you a lot of control over when Google should show your ads.

There are also:

  • Negative keywords – these are a different kettle of fish. These are keywords that you’re telling Google you do not want your ads to appear for. For example, Porcupine Trust might want to make sure that it doesn’t appear for anything including the word ‘Hedgehog’ in this case they would enter -hedgehog which would prevent this happening.

Congratulations you now know how to set up campaigns in AdWords! You can replicate this to cover all your user journeys e.g. donate, volunteer, services available..

If you want a review of the account that you’ve set up then get in touch – I would be more than happy to take a look at your initial set-up.

Guest Blog by Anna Champ


Anna is co-founder of Third Edge, a digital marketing agency specialising in providing PPC, SEO and Analytics expertise in the Third Sector. They’re particularly passionate about helping charities apply for and manage their Google Grants account. Their services include account set-up, audits, on-going management and training.

As well as working externally for charities they have experience working in-house in National charities which means they understand the challenges, frustrations and highs experienced the Third Sector!

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