10 Tips for a Successful Google AdWords Account

Make the Most of Your Google AdWords GrantGuest post by Stephanie Hong

Welcome to part two of our special Google AdWords two-part series written by Stephanie Hong, a nonprofit marketing specialist, where she provide tips & tricks on how to make the most of your Google AdWords Grant dollars.

In case you missed it, part one reviewed How to Take Advantage of Free Advertising Dollars from Google AdWords.

You applied for Google Ad Grants. You signed up for Google AdWords. You started a few campaigns and you’re spending some of your free money. But how can you make the most of your grant dollars? Here are 10 Google AdWords tips to get your account running to its full potential.

1. Bid on your own brand

It may sound silly to spend money on your own nonprofit name, but it’s one of first things you should do when building your AdWords account. Not only does it show brand power by being the top result, it also prevents others from stealing your spotlight.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

2. Set Maximum Cost Per Click (CPC) at $2

Google Ad Grants has a maximum CPC of $2; make sure to set all your keywords to the maximum bid so your ad has a better chance of showing up.

3. Geo-target to you locations

Many nonprofits are local. Make sure to target the locations that are relevant to your nonprofit. For example, if you have volunteer opportunities in San Francisco, change your location settings to San Francisco. Otherwise, your volunteer ads will show to all of the United States.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

4. Organize your Ad Groups with tightly themed subjects

Organization is key for an AdWords account. Not only does it help you keep track of the topics you’re targeting, it makes it easier to see what is doing well. Think of it like a brick and mortar store: a campaign would be “Shoes” and the Ad Groups would be “men’s shoes”, “women’s shoes”, “children’s shoes”, etc.

5. Write ad text that is specific to your keywords within your Ad Group

Including keywords in your ad headline will increase your chances of being the top ad. It shows viewers that your brand is relevant to what they are searching for.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

6. Have a strong call to action

People are inundated with online ads; make yours stands out by having a strong call to action. Your ad copy should tell the user precisely what will occur on the landing page (sign up, donate now, download, etc). A generic message might make the user click, but then leave quickly.

7. Pay attention to Keyword Match Types

When you’re bidding on long keywords, it’s important to make sure you have the right match type. For example, “volunteer with animals” should be set as “phrase match” to ensure you grab the whole keyword term.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

8. Track conversions

If you have goals, such as a volunteer sign-up, you should set up Conversion Actions within Google AdWords. By placing a conversion pixel on a Thank You or conversion page, you will be able to see how many people converted through AdWords. For example, VolunteerMatch tracks when a nonprofit signs up for a VolunteerMatch.org account. With this information, we know how well AdWords does at driving sign-ups.

9. Use Sitelinks if you have content to share

Sitelink ad extension shows links to specific pages of your website under your ad. This is beneficial for folks who have multiple conversion possibilities. For example, a generic VolunteerMatch ad will drive to the homepage, but through Sitelinks, we are able to add other call to actions such as “Join as a Volunteer”, “Join as a Nonprofit”, or “About VolunteerMatch”.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

10. Don’t be afraid to test!

In AdWords, you only pay when a person clicks on your ad, so don’t be afraid to make a bunch of ads to test. I suggest starting off with at least 2 ads per Ad Group. Trying different keywords, headlines, or call to actions is a fun way to see how your audience responds to your nonprofit.

I hope these tips are helpful!  AdWords is a fun advertising platform because you can constantly change and play around with your targeting. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any results; it does take time.


If you are still in the beginning phases of setting up your AdWords account, Google has many great resources to help you. Check out their Guide to AdWords.

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