Google Ads Success: How to Build Ads that Work

Google Ad Grant

There’s a lot of information out there for nonprofits using the Google Ad Grant. You’ve got the basics covered — how to apply, how to set up campaigns and ad groups, even how to find great keywords. You know all about important policy requirements and how to maintain compliance over time with account audits and optimization techniques. But what does a successful Google Ads campaign really look like? How do these tips translate into meaningful impact? Moving beyond the basics of a smooth-running Ad Grant with focused digital advertising strategies is how nonprofit organizations can build Google Ads that really work for your cause.  

How to build Google Ads that work 

Organize your account for impact

Successful Google Ads come from a well-organized account. When you set up or restructure your Google Ad Grant account, you want to consider both user trends AND your team’s management experience. Consider bucketing different campaigns and ad groups based on major search trends, your corresponding content and site navigation, and target goal conversions. This will make for a clean and effective account layout — if topic groupings, naming conventions, and associated goals are clear from your team’s perspective, it will be easier to maintain and update the account over time. 

It will also naturally lead to better user engagement if your keywords, ads, and corresponding landing pages form a cohesive narrative from start to finish. We worked with our client Crisis Text Line to restructure their Grants Pro account according to these best practices, and helped to generate a 38% increase in crisis counselor volunteer applications in one month from Google Ads-based traffic. 

Meet users where they’re searching 

One of the most effective ways to achieve impact with Google Ads is to actually answer the questions audience is asking. You may have information, resources, and services that your audience needs, but don’t ignore the Curse of Knowledge — remember that the way you talk about your cause as a professional in the space is probably NOT the way your site users talk about it. Use tools like the Ad Grant Keyword Planner and Google Trends to look at the data for search terms and topics relevant to your mission. Find out how users really speak about your cause, and pay attention to the words and phrases they’re typing into search engines to learn more. Target these keywords in your own Ad Grant account, and include them in your ads and landing pages to meet users on their level, both language and interest-wise, to drive them to appropriate resources. 

Our client Power Poetry, an online poetry community for teenagers, has used these techniques to find creative new keywords that will engage teens searching for answers about poetry. They realized that many teens talking about poetry online were doing so because of school — the searches driving users to the Power Poetry site included “how to write an ode poem” and other questions generated from homework assignments. Power Poetry has used this keyword research data to craft better ads and site content that meet their audience at the level of their needs, leading to dramatic increases in Google Ads traffic and over 470,000 teen poets on their platform. 


Test your theories (and trust the data!)

One of the great benefits of using the Ad Grant is the ability to test advertising language and tactics before applying those learnings to paid platforms. Ad Grant policy requires at least 2 ads per ad group, which makes for easy A/B tests — let users tell you what they prefer by testing different ad iterations and looking at your Google Ads data! Use the Grant platform to test ad elements such as:

  • Headlines 
  • Body copy 
  • Calls-to-action
  • Dynamic keyword insertion (auto-inserts the phrase the user searched to trigger the ad)
  • Sitelinks (link extensions at the bottom of your ad)

The real trick behind achieving Google Ads success on the Ad Grant platform is just applying ongoing, creative attention to your account. Use your Google Ad Grant to test theories about user interest, brand messaging, and advertising techniques—don’t be afraid to try new ideas! By using both imaginative marketing and data-backed testing, you’ll have the greatest chance of leveraging your Ad Grant for increased impact. If you have more questions about these strategies and case studies, tweet us @wholewhale or explore additional Ad Grant resources.