Today's article from Grant Hensel, the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, dives into how to optimize your current digital presence to make the most of the Google Ad Grant. Grant and the Nonprofit Megaphone team have worked with over 370 leading nonprofits in Google Grant management, and he lends his expertise here.
The Google Ad Grant is a digital marketing powerhouse that can amplify your nonprofit’s online strategy. However, using it to its fullest potential requires a strong website ready to back it up.
Design is subjective, but there are many qualities that make an effective website. Your nonprofit’s website needs to be designed from the ground up with results in mind. Whether your website is well-established or you are building it from scratch, following a few key guidelines will help you reach your ideal audience with the Google Ad Grant.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Google Ad Grant gives qualified nonprofits up to $10,000 in recurring monthly ad credits. You can use these credits to place targeted ads in Google search results to bring visitors to your website where they can donate, volunteer, and engage with your cause. And the best part? It’s easy to apply for and available to any eligible nonprofit!
To get the most out of the Grant, here are a few strategies you can use to strengthen your nonprofit’s website:
- Optimize for SEO.
- Identify key conversions.
- Prioritize user experience.
- Keep your campaigns updated.
Your ads will bring new visitors to your website but it’s up to you to help turn those clicks into conversions that matter. Let’s take a closer look at how you can get the most out of the Google Ad Grant.
Optimize for SEO.
A website is only effective if visitors can find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is your way of making that happen, and there are some tricks you can use to rise to the top of the rankings.
- Develop a blog. Creating a blog for your website gives your organization a voice and can help raise awareness of your cause, but it also will help you to stand out in search results. Create strong, promotable content that is at least 300 words (but ideally more than 1,500) that explores topics relevant to your nonprofit in a meaningful way. Use your organization’s voice to advocate for change — Google will notice!
- Use effective keywords. Utilize keyword research to identify words and phrases that are both relevant to your cause and perform well in Google searches. Make sure that they fit the content you are posting.
- Include headings and subheadings. Header tags help organize your content and allow Google to determine the content of your articles. Feature important keywords in titles and headers and segment your content with evenly distributed headers to help readability. Headers paired with a table of contents also allow readers to jump straight to content that they want most, which can help reduce your bounce rate.
- Add alt text to your images. Google uses image alt text, or a description of your image, to further determine what is featured on a page or post. Including alt text is a great invisible way to make your page more recognizable to search engines without affecting your site’s appearance or design.
Improving your website’s ranking in search engines will not only help all of your digital marketing efforts, but it also directly contributes to your success with the Google Ad Grant. Standing out in search results solidifies your brand and domain authority, and attracting relevant visitors increases the likelihood of meaningful conversions.
Identify key conversions.
How can you turn website visits into valuable engagements? The answer: identifying and tracking key conversions. A conversion occurs when a website visitor takes an action that you have determined to be valuable to your goals.
Conversions can take many forms, such as a user making a donation, adding their email address to your mailing list, signing up to volunteer, or sharing your content on social media. Start with your nonprofit’s goals and work backward to determine which conversions are the most essential.
Your organization should remain adaptable and learn to shift your digital marketing strategy and Google Ad campaigns around what you need. The conversions you need at the beginning of the year, for example, might not be the ones you need at the end.
Google Analytics can track your conversions and show the route that a user took through your website to complete the action. Information about how often your goals are completed and which pages are contributing the most to completing your goals is crucial information. Use this knowledge to reshape your website to prioritize key conversions and make your calls to action easier for users to find.
Prioritize user experience.
Google gives preferential treatment to websites that prioritize usability, so make sure user experience is a top priority. Creating a fantastic user experience will help your visitors to find the content they’re looking for and build positive feelings around online interactions with your brand.
But what helps to create a positive user experience? This can vary a lot from site to site, but here are some general guidelines that will help in almost every circumstance:
- Ensure your website is accessible. Accessibility can take many forms, including proper display on mobile devices, designing your site so that it can be navigated by keyboard only, or writing alt text for those with limited vision.
- Make sure your site is easy to navigate. Think about the last time that you accessed a website for the first time before you knew how to get to the pages you needed. Making important pages easy to find and clearly labeled is essential for a strong website. Users should not have a hard time finding how or where to donate. If it takes too long to find a page, many visitors are more likely to leave than to keep trying.
- Pay attention to aesthetics. Aesthetics are more than just how nice a site looks. It also helps your site to appear professional and trustworthy to new visitors. Ensure that text is clear and easily skimmable, while images are visually appealing. Good design reinforces your brand.
- Design with load times in mind. If your website takes too long to load, users are likely to leave. This is particularly important with users who are visiting the mobile version of your site. Limit the size of photos or videos to ensure your site loads quickly.
Creating a positive user experience will affect how Google ranks your website and how users feel about your site. A good digital marketing strategy aims to make meaningful conversions in the present while building your brand’s credibility in the future.
Keep your campaigns updated.
While your organization will likely always need to fundraise or recruit volunteers, your nonprofit’s other needs will change over time. Don’t be afraid to shift your digital marketing strategy so that it aligns with what you need when you need it.
You can use the Google Ad Grant to create ad campaigns and promote your cause’s goals, but don’t stop there. Create new campaigns based on upcoming events, recurring yearly fundraisers, or for any other important needs that arise. Create new campaigns as needed to adjust your strategy as needed.
Once your campaigns are set up, continue to check on them for any necessary improvements or adjustments. Track your performance using the data gathered by Google Analytics. This way, you can continue adjusting them to gain the best results possible.
Your ad campaigns should be reflected on your website. Adjust pages, layouts, or posts to help your ad campaigns become as effective as they can be. In digital marketing, few things are fixed in place. Be creative with your strategy and you will be surprised by the ways you will find to help accomplish it.
The Google Ad Grant is a useful tool but its effectiveness can depend on the website that your visitors land on. Generating clicks won’t matter if users can’t figure out the next steps or find your organization unprofessional. Conversely, visitors will remember if they are impressed and surprised by an excellent website with strong branding and design.
Effective website design helps make conversions happen. Every part of your website has the ultimate goal of creating valuable engagement and strengthening your brand. If you have identified the conversions that matter and built your site to succeed, then you can make the most of the Google Ad Grant and all the new clicks that ad campaigns generate.