3. Basic Google Ads Set Up

Welcome to part three of our comprehensive guide to Google Ad Grants for charities and non-profits.

In Part 3, we’re going to talk you through getting some campaigns created so that your ads can start running. We’ll go through all the basic information you need to start driving traffic to your website.

Let’s get started!

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    3.1 The Basics

    Account structure

    To use the Google Ad Grants, you needed to set up a Google Ads account and link it to your Google for Nonprofits account. We covered how to do this in part 2.

    We strongly recommend using the “proper” Google Ads setup, described in part 2 as the “Google Ads Expert Mode”. This gives you maximum control over your account. Below is a structure you can only create in this type of account.

    Within a Google Ads account, you can create Campaigns which in turn contain Ad Groups and Keywords.

    google ads account structure
    Credit: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/1704396?hl=en-GB

    The $10,000 Google Ad Grants allocation is assigned at an account level. That means you can run as many campaigns as you like across different themes.

    Let’s take an example to illustrate this:

    I run a make-believe homeless charity that operates across the UK. My charity uses its website to signpost emergency shelter for people who are homeless, promote fundraising events we’re hosting, advertise volunteer positions and showcase research we’ve completed around government policy on homelessness.

    For my charity, I might set up a campaign structure as follows:

    account example

    In this example, there is only one keyword per ad group. However, depending on your structure and keyword match type, you might decide to have more, similar, keywords in each ad group.

    Google has an excellent guide to basic Google Ads account structures that you can find here.

    As per the Google Ad Grants policy, you need to create at least 2 ad groups per campaign, which must contain active ads that are relevant to your keywords.

    Ad copy writing

    Once you’ve got your campaigns, ad groups and keywords set up, you will want to add two or three ad variations to each ad group.

    Make sure the ad copy is as relevant to the keywords in your ad group as possible, as these ads will display for all of the keywords in the ad group. This is also the reason why it is important to ensure keywords within ad groups are grouped around the same theme.

    For example, if you had one ad group which contained keywords for both policy and volunteering, your ads would only be able to go to one website URL. So you’d be sending users interested in volunteering to policy documents, or those interested in policy to the volunteering pages. Neither of which would be good user experience and would damage quality score.


    Sitelinks appear under your ads and take the users to specific pages on your site. They’re a great way of showcasing additional pages from your website within your ad.

    In the example below, the sitelinks are the four hyperlinks displayed below the main ad copy (Hours, Specials, Biscuits and Healthy Diets).

    sitelinks example
    Credit: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2375416?hl=en-GB

    As per Ad Grant policy, every campaign needs at least two sitelinks extensions with different destination URLs.

    3.2 Tracking Conversions

    You need to ensure you are tracking key events on your website, such as contact form submissions or document downloads. This is one of the most important things you need to implement for a successful digital marketing strategy, and especially for your Ad Grants account.

    There are various ways that you can set up conversion tracking in Google Ads. We would highly recommend setting up key goals in Google Analytics and then importing these to your Google Ads account.

    The first step is to link Google Ads and Google Analytics, which you can do by following Google’s instructions here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033961?hl=en

    Next, you want to create some key goals to track in Analytics and then import them to Google Ads.

    analytics goals

    Smart Goals

    One really simple method is to add a Smart Goal into your Analytics account. These aren’t the most useful metric to track, as it triggers on your “best website sessions” rather than when an explicit action, such as a contact form submission, is completed.

    However, if you don’t have conversion tracking in place and you’ve had at least 500 visits to your website over the last 30 days, you can set one of these up fairly quickly using the instructions here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6153083?hl=en

    Destination Goals

    These are an excellent and simple conversion action to implement because they don’t rely on adding any code to the website. It only works if you have confirmation pages after a user submits a form.

    Let’s say you have a contact form which redirects the user to a “thank you” page after they’ve submitted the form. You can set up a destination goal to trigger when a user visits this “thank you” page. Not necessarily the most accurate goal, but better than nothing.

    You can read more about destination goals here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1116091?hl=en

    Event-based Goals

    The most complex method, but the most accurate. This involves either adding a Google Analytics code to fire on events such as button clicks or form submissions, or adding Google Tag Manager to the website and setting up event tracking through this software.

    Once you’ve created key events, you can then create an Analytics goal which fires every time a particular event fires. This goal can then be imported into your Ads account.

    You can also add eCommerce tracking, which is also a more complex method than destination goals, but can give you visibility on revenue from donations, memberships and other website sales.

    Once you’ve got your goals set up, you now need to follow Google’s instructions to import the goal(s) as a conversion in your Google Ads account: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034306?hl=en

    Google’s policy states that your account needs to have at least one conversion tracking if you’re using automated bidding strategies such as “Maximise Conversions”.

    3.3 Keeping your account compliant

    Google changed its Ad Grant policy back in January 2018. Rightly so, these rules made it much harder to simply “set it and forget it”. A successful Ad Grant account needs to be actively managed, checked and updated to ensure it delivers results and avoids an account deactivation.

    Google has a full list of their compliance requirements here: https://support.google.com/grants/answer/9042207?hl=en

    You must monitor and fix any problems that arise to ensure your account doesn’t get deactivated.

    If your account does run into problems, you need first to determine why your account was deactivated. Go through the policy requirements linked above one by one. Make any required changes to bring it back into compliance.

    Once this is done, you can contact Google to request reactivation using this form: https://support.google.com/grants/contact/Request_for_reactivation_cases_2

    Free Ad Grants Compliance Report

    If you’re struggling to bring your account back into compliance or would like a free assessment to know whether your account is breaking the rules, you can contact us through this form.

      So we’ve given a brief overview of the basic Google Ads account setup, how to set up conversion tracking, and how to keep your account compliant.

      With these essential components, you can get your account up and running and driving relevant visitors to your website.

      In part 4, we will cover some more advanced techniques you can use and some additional pay-per-click related marketing channels you may wish to explore.

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