Marketing How Tos

What You Should Know About Google Ad Grants’ New Policy Update

Photo of Jasmine LeBlanc Jasmine LeBlanc - January 31, 2018

New policies sound a little intimidating, right? In this case, the Google Ad Grants policies were updated to genuinely help your advertising efforts improve in AdWords. As of Jan 1, 2018, the Google Ad Grants program updated their policies and account requirements. It is important to know what these rules are to prevent account suspension, whether you are currently a grant recipient or would like to apply for the grant in the future.

What is Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants is one of the Google for Nonprofits programs that gifts eligible nonprofits up to $10,000 a month of in-kind advertising on the Google Search Network. It is an excellent way for a nonprofit to increase its awareness and meet its goals. If you’re interested in creating free text ads to promote your organization, then apply for Google Ad Grants! For more details on program eligibility and the application process, check out our 4 step guide on applying for Google Ad Grants.

How to Remain Compliant

The Google Ad Grants program has strict guidelines. These aren’t meant to discourage nonprofits from applying. They are in place to ensure that your text ads bring higher quality users to your website! There’s no need to stress. We’ll explain the requirements so that you can remain compliant with them.

Account Performance

Your ad campaigns must meet a specific performance level to avoid suspension. We’ll explain what numbers you need to reach and ways to meet them.

5% Click-through Rate (CTR) or higher

Your account must have at least a 5% CTR for 2 consecutive months to avoid suspension. We recommend that you opt to receive notifications regarding your account’s status. Being aware of your current CTR will give you an opportunity to optimize your ads before it gets too low. If you’re looking for ways to optimize your ads, we came up with handy lists of tips for effective ad optimization.

There is a silver lining though! If you are unable to meet the CTR requirement and want to prevent suspension, you can pause your AdWords campaigns that are performing poorly. By doing this, you are placing the campaign on hold to keep it from charging you and lowering your CTR.

If you can’t increase your CTR and your account is suspended, don’t fret! You can apply for your account to be reinstated after adjusting your campaigns to be compliant. But do be careful with this approach, consecutive suspensions of your Ad Grant account can result in termination.

Campaign Structure

Your AdWords account has to meet minimum requirements in order to remain active. Having your campaigns structured correctly helps you show your ad to your target audience at the right time. Here’s how your campaigns must be structured.

Two active ad groups and two active ads

In each of your campaigns, you must have two active ad groups and two active text ads. Your campaigns must also include a set of closely related keywords. This requirement will benefit your nonprofit in the long run because you will have a better chance of enticing your target audience to click on your ads.

Two sitelink extensions

Your account must have at least two active ad sitelink extensions. These extensions enhance your ads because they provide links to additional pages on your website. They help direct your target audience to the most relevant landing pages which in turn will increase your lead conversion rates.

Specific geotargeting

You’ll also need to ensure that you have adjusted your geotargeting settings to locations that are relevant to you. Your ads will only show to people in that area. This is beneficial to you because you wouldn’t want to attract people outside of your target community to your organization. You can target certain regions or a specified mile radius around a location. Just be sure that they are pertinent to your cause.

For more details on how to set up an ad campaign correctly and efficiently, check out our reference guide.

Annual Survey

Every year the Google AdWords team will send you an Ad Grants program survey, and your response is necessary. To ensure you don’t miss out on the survey and to avoid account suspension, opt-in to receive emails from AdWords. If you do miss the email to take the survey and your account is suspended, you can request reinstatement for your account by completing the survey. This may seem extreme, but for the program to continue to improve, feedback is essential.


As you know, Google is dedicated to helping legitimate causes spread their word through many available programs. In their new terms and conditions, they specify the following prohibited keywords:

  • Single-word keywords. Don’t worry, there is a list of exceptions.
  • Names of newspapers, brands, and other organizations. Examples include The New York Times, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
  • Generic keywords. Words such as “ebooks” or “download video” are generic. Names of places and historical events/people fall into this category as well.
  • Disrespectful keywords. Keywords or websites that promote hatred, discrimination, intolerance, and violence.

The keyword regulations shouldn’t be too hard to abide by, but make sure you focus on the quality score of your keywords. The new policy change states that your keywords must maintain a quality score of 2 or higher. Remember, your quality score depends on your landing page experience, ad relevance, and expected CTR. Optimize your ads and landing pages by incorporating your keywords into your copy and by ensuring your landing page provides the information visitors are looking for when they click on your ad!

When to Use AdWords Express

With the new, stringent guidelines there are several reasons why you may need to switch to an Adwords Express account. Here are a few scenarios where using Express may benefit you:

  • If you are unable to consistently optimize your ads
  • If you are currently unable to meet the requirements in this post and pause your campaigns
  • If you do not have the budget to work with an AdWords account manager

AdWords Express will automatically structure your campaigns. But we recommend to only use AdWords Express as a last resort option. Since it changes a lot of settings automatically, you aren’t able to optimize your ads with specific keywords, negative keywords, or ad extensions. It limits the functionality of Google AdWords for the account owner which can be bad if you plan to work with an AdWords account manager.

While these new policies may seem daunting, they simply ensure that you are managing your account effectively. If you decide that you would like additional help in handling your AdWords account and staying compliant with the new rules, let us know. We would love to help you make the most of your Google Ad Grants.