Your website is the public face of your nonprofit’s digital marketing presence, and because of this the Google Ad Grants program takes website quality pretty seriously. Google wants to know that your site will provide a helpful and seamless user experience for visitors who click your ads—so for nonprofits getting ready to apply, a low-quality website could result in a rejection. For existing grantees, it could end in an account suspension.
Sticking to this list of best practices and optimizations can help ensure that your site is eligible for Google Grants and compliant with grantee policy, and help existing Grantees maintain account compliance. Read on for 5 website must-haves to help you secure $10,000 per month in free ad spend on Google’s ad platform:
1. Only Use Domains You Own
Your organization must own the domain that users land on when they click your ad. Avoid redirecting users to a donation or ticket purchase page owned by a third party. If you’d like users to land directly on your website’s donation page and want to utilize e-commerce tracking (if you’d like to see your average donation totals from users who clicked on your ads, for example), your content should be hosted by a verified donation processor. Currently, those processors are Blackbaud, Classy, FrontStream Artez, and PayPal, as they play well with the Google Ad Grant program.
2. Deliver A High-Quality User Experience
Having an organized and informative website goes a long way when it comes to Google Ad Grants. The better the user experience, the more likely your ads are to show. Here’s what Google typically checks for in a Google Ad Grant application:
- Navigation: Make your site easy to navigate with an organized menu
- Mission statement: Provide a clear description of your organization, mission, and activities
- Content: Publish substantial and detailed content to your pages
- Freshness: Keep time-sensitive pages like event listings up to date
3. Check Usability and Security
A broken website is a frustrating experience for any user, and can make your Google Ad Grant more difficult to obtain as well. We recommend getting in touch with your web developer to help you fix any backend issues before applying for the grant. Here are a few items to keep in mind:
- Fix any broken links on your web pages
- Make sure your website loads quickly (The optimal load time is under five seconds. To test your site speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool)
- Migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS. HTTPS is the encrypted version of HTTP that ensures data sent by you and your users is secure and protected. Read more about implementing HTTPS here
4. Be Transparent About Commercial Activity
If your nonprofit’s primary goal is to sell products or services, offer consultations, generate leads, or provide referrals, you may not be eligible for the grant unless you are transparent about how these commercial activities allow your non-profit to serve the public.
If you have a section on your website dedicated to commercial activity, Google requires that you clearly describe how the sales will support your organization’s mission and where the proceeds will go. Including an annual report on your website that outlines allocation of funds usually does the trick.
5. Limit On-Site Ads
If there is any advertising on your website it has to be relevant to your nonprofit’s cause and unobtrusive to users. Try to make any on-site ads as small and subtle as possible.
Your website also cannot display ads hosted by Google AdSense or other affiliate advertising links while participating in the Google Ad Grants program.
These are the five most important technical points to keep in mind when optimizing your website to comply with the Google Ad Grants policy, but having optimal site content is just as important. A well-structured website will make it easier to create relevant, high-quality Google Ads and help obtain and maintain Grant compliance. Here are some other helpful tidbits to make the content on your website as Google Ads-friendly as it can be.
- A clear and compelling logo
- Strong calls to action
- No outbound links/buttons
- At least one image on each page
Stay tuned for Part II of our website optimization guide in early 2020!