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8 Tips For Nonprofits Getting Started On Google Ads

"I tried Google Ads and didn't see any response, basically it doesn't work."

This kind of response is one I have heard multiple times from people who have tried tackling the world of Google advertising, especially in the nonprofit world. Though Google wouldn't be where it is today if this was true. I also know that many of the nonprofits I have worked with would not have seen the growth they have over the years if you removed Google Ads from the equation.

The problem I believe lies in jumping in head first to quickly. I see to many businesses and nonprofits doing just that and then ending up bleeding money out the other end. I cringe even looking back at when I started and how much money was wasted. Though it was far less thanks to a friend who sent me some similar advice. I hope the following tips are helpful to you. Feel free to leave any suggestions or questions in the comments below.

1. Stick to the Search Network.

When setting up your first campaign make sure to select "Search Network Only". This will limit your ads to only showing on the Google Search web site. As you are getting started it is important to focus your time and resources one one area that is easier to manage.

Creating your ad campaign by Google

2. Set Up Conversion Tracking.

Communication has not happened with out feedback and response. The Conversion Pixel is a vital tool to help you track if people are actually taking action. Simply put you place the pixel code on a thank you page on your web site. That way when someone makes a purchase, applies for a course, or even enquires through a contact form you will know that it was a Google Ad that caused it. This is also how you can start to gauge your ROI, Return on Investment.

Setting up conversion tracking by Google

3. Create Landing Pages For Your Ads.

This is one of the bigger mistakes I see people make when using Google Ads. They link their ads to their main web site's home page or even a product page. This doesn't help in two main ways. Firstly Google ranks your ads with a Quality Score and the more specific the page you send an ad to the better. Like what someone searches should be what the ad says and what the web page says. The closer you get that the better. Creating a Landing page creates that focus where you can tailor the message to exactly what you are advertising. It also focusses the person who is clicking the ad. They aren't distracted by everything else on your web site and you can help direct them to the action you want. ie. fill out a contact form.

My personal favorite Landing Page creator is actually built right into my favorite CRM tool Hubspot.

Click here to learn more about how Hubspot for Nonprofits.

4. Target very specific keywords.

Don't do Broad Match, at least to start with. Also use the Keyword Tool in Ads to research Low competition keywords around your product or program. Otherwise you will be paying high prices to compete with others who have most likely been doing it for years. Also as point number 6 will cover you will be surprised at what searches your ads appear on unless you do Exact Match keywords.

Using keyword matching options by Google

5. Create Negative Keywords.

This one took me the longest to make sense of. Though even as I have applied it to the organization I work with, which has locations globally, it has produced a much greater result. Basically if you have major competitors in your market it is worth adding their brand name as a Negative keyword so if someone is looking for them you don't show up. That is because if someone took the time to search them specifically they are less likely to go with you. For example if you sell running shoes and bid for the keyword "Running Shoes" make sure to add Nike as a negative keyword. We decided to do that as much as we can a few years back as a principle but then realized it is actually better business and is what the for profit world does.

About Negative Keywords by Google

6. Check It Regularly & Always Be Learning.

Google Ads is not a set and forget platform. No ads platform is. That is because it is dealing with real people, searching real words, in real time. As we know people change, whether it's their behavior or even language. Also Google is constantly changing, adding new features. So stay on the edge of your seat and don't sit back. I recently managed to cut our cost per conversion in half by learning new things and tweaking our account.

7. Discover What Searches People Use To Click Your Ads.

The search term report tool is probably one of the most important things I learnt on a phone call with a Google employee. It helps you learn what people actually are searching when they trigger and click on your ads. I have logged onto other businesses accounts to find lots of money spent on searches that actually had nothing to do with their product. This is also why I have point number 3.

Understanding the search term report by Google

8. Quit Now!!

When I first published this post I forget this very important tip. Google Ads is hard work and is highly technical. Not everyone will be successful on it and it will take time and money to work out. If you are low on either of those and aren't committed to following it through till you are successful please don't bother. Instead put your energy and resources into the things you are good at and enjoy doing.

ps. I'll throw this in the mix but if you run a nonprofit you can actually get a Google Ad Grant for thousands of dollars of free advertising. Though there are limitations to the types of ads you can run and what you can bid. As well as tight restrictions on keeping your account running at a high level.