SEO is a common concern for any group with a web presence, but it’s rare for us to hear a mention of Google AdWords, particularly from some of our nonprofit clients who could certainly benefit.

To learn more about the advantages of Google AdWords nonprofit campaigns, I attended a training at Google Cambridge specifically for nonprofits.

The session started with some eye-opening statistics:

  • Online giving grew 11% in 2012 over 2011
  • 1 in 5 US non-profits are receiving online donations
  • 40% of non-profits plan to enable their website for mobile browsing in the next 12 months

We knew that AdWords can raise awareness and provide calls to action to donate, volunteer, and lend support. But we didn’t know that Google actually offers grants for a daily AdWords budget of $329, to display text ads on the search engine results page and drive traffic to a particular domain.

Let’s say your nonprofit has received an AdWords grant, and you’re trying to get your ads to show up in relevant searches. So how does it all work?

Think of AdWords as an auction: the listing on the page goes to the highest bidder on particular keywords, and the position that results is a combination of bid and quality. The cost per click maximum (or bid) is only $2.00, but the relevancy (or quality) is what can help your ad come out on top. Quality scores come from a combination of click through rates, relevancy and the landing page.

Although you may only be able to display a 25-character title, a 35-character display URL, and two description lines with a maximum of 35 characters (including spaces), leading with a relevant message and a compelling call to action is key.

As with everything on the web, it is important not to let over-thinking to get in the way of publishing new, audience-relevant content. The same applies to managing AdWords campaigns. We were given the advice to “learn as you go”, and to not worry about mastering the program as an exact science.

We plan to recommend that all of our nonprofit clients apply for this grant… after all, who doesn’t love to win at an auction?

For more information:

Eligibility and program information

Google for non-profits