CharitiesGoogle AdWords

Guide to the new Google AdWords Grant scheme requirements

At the end of 2017 Google announced that they were introducing changes to the Google Grants scheme. These are sizeable changes which could have a big impact on your account. The changes have taken effect from January 1st, with changes needing to be made as soon as possible.

Below is information on the changes as well as some tips for reacting to them. If anything isn’t clear please drop us a line and we’d be happy to help with any of this.

If your account has recently been suspended it’s likely to be because you have failed to meet the below requirements. Read our guide on recovering an Ad Grants account after suspension.

Performance Related Changes

Google has introduced 2 new requirements relating to the actual performance of your account. If you miss meeting these goals 2 months in a row then your account will be paused. So you have January to get your account in order to ensure you meet these requirements in February.

Google is running a webinar on ‘Optimizing your Ad Grants account for ad quality‘ on January 30th where they will offer further advice.

CTR of 5%

The previous CTR requirement was 1% so this is a huge increase and one which is likely to affect a lot of charities.

If your CTR is under 5% then you’ll need to think about how you can raise this:
An easy way to prioritise this is to start with the campaigns with the most impressions; as these will have the biggest impact in terms of changing the overall CTR. Within these campaigns look at ad groups and keywords to see if you can isolate any main culprits affecting this and pause these.

Depending on how far from 5% CTR you are, you may need to take drastic action and pause whole campaigns or ad groups. If that’s the case then don’t worry as you can then look to gradually re-introduce content over time to expand the account out again.

If you are close to 5% then you could also look at optimising your ads and keywords. Use the Quality Score and its metrics to give you an idea of where you can improve matters. The webinar with Google mentioned above could help with this.

Your brand campaign should have a high CTR so if all else fails you can fall back on this for the time being and then look to put other campaigns live again at a later date.

It would be wise to label the keywords / ad groups / campaigns you pause so you can easily find them in the future.


Keywords with low Quality Score

You now need to ensure that any keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or 1 are paused, these can easily be found in your account by using the filter function.

You can also set up a rule that will pause and send an email alert whenever a keyword Quality Score drops below 3:

Choose what AdWords will do when it finds a low quality keyword
How to set up an email alert for low quality keywords


Account Structure Related Changes

Google has introduced stricter rules about the contents of a Grants Account, these are fairly simple requirements which shouldn’t cause too much of a headache and once implemented won’t require further work. These should be made as soon as possible.


Basic structure

You now need to have a minimum of the below in your account, we expect that almost every account will already meet these requirements which is why we’re not going into any further detail:

  • 2 active ad groups
  • 2 active ads


Sitelink Extensions

It’s now necessary to have at least 2 sitelink extensions within your account. You can set these at a campaign or ad group level. If you’re stuck for what to use these on, it’s common to see sitelinks in charity accounts pointing users towards Donate, Volunteer or Contact pages.


This is to ensure that your ads are only being shown to relevant users. You’re likely to have geo-targeting set to the UK, which meets this criteria. If you work within a more specific region of the UK, then make sure in your Settings that you’re targeting the correct region/county/city/borough.

1 word Keywords

Google is clamping down on the use of single word keywords. These are only allowed if it’s for your brand name, a medical condition or they’re on Google’s list of permitted one word keywords.

To find all these keywords in your account you can filter keywords by ‘does not contain’ and enter a space into the filter box. You can then select to pause all of these keywords in one fell swoop. At the same time you could also add a label as a reminder of why these were paused.

At this point it would also be worth reviewing the search term report for these one word keywords to check whether there are any multi-word search terms being triggered by these keywords. If they are, and these are not yet in your account then you ought to add these phrases into your campaigns. For example if you had to pause ‘wheelchair’ you might see that this was being matched against ‘wheelchair hire’ which is a keyword you should add into your account if you weren’t already bidding on it.

Competitor Keywords

Google is now clamping down on bidding on competitor terms. For example only the RSPCA would now be able to bid on the phrase ‘RSPCA’. If you’re bidding on any competitor terms then you’ll need to pause these.

Feature expansion

This isn’t something that requires you to make a change, but it’s opens up an opportunity which might be useful to many charities.

$2 bid cap increased

Google is now allowing charities to use a ‘maximise conversions’ bid strategy which would allow you to spend over the $2 bid limit. You can still only set bids at $2, but Google will bid higher if it believes the searcher is likely to convert with you.

However, this can only be used if you have conversions set up within your account. A conversion could be someone donating, signing up for an event or completing a form etc. If you do have something like this set up then you can go ahead and change your bid strategy to ‘Maximise Conversions’ by going into Campaign settings:

In Campaign Settings you can changes your bid strategy

If you don’t have conversions set up yet, then drop us a line as we’d be happy to talk you through setting some up.

That’s all folks!

Hopefully this has given you some help with the steps that you need to follow to be compliant with Google’s new regulations. If you have any questions about this then feel free to contact us and we’re happy to give you some more advice.