Regular users of Google Grants are in a tizzy over a few recent changes to the program. The biggest source of consternation is the policy known as “one domain for one Grant.” In Google’s words:
- “Google Grantees may only promote one website domain name: the website domain name associated with the registered nonprofit that was approved for Google Grants.”
Ok, so if you’re www.PistachioFoundation.org, you basically need to make sure that all your ads direct to a PistachioFoundation.org page. No problem, right?
Well, the biggest problem this raises for many non-profits (probably you), is that most groups have their donation, sign-up, and action pages hosted within their CRM – not on their main website domain. That means your donation page may have a URL that’s different from your main website. (If you use one Google Grant to cover multiple departments with different domains, or for microsites with their own vanity urls, you’re also in a pickle.)
Now that this rule is being enforced, many of your ads may be getting shut down. You could even lose your status as a grantee. Yeesh!
But there’s hope. Here are three possible solutions that we recommend putting some thought into:
- 1) Possibly the best, but probably the most complicated, option is to convert your landing pages to your standard domain, or to a sub-domain.
Ex: www.PistachioFoundation.org/campaign OR Campaign.PistachioFoundation.org
However, this will require you to work with your CRM to set up a CNAME record with your domain registrar. How much effort and whether this costs any additional money will depend on your contract and your CRM. It could potentially cost more than you’re saving with your Google grant. (Which would likely defeat the purpose, since we have no data showing that hosting donation pages on CRM domains has any negative impact on conversion rates normally.)
PRO: Seamless user experience
CON: Takes time and money to set up – possibly more than your Grant is giving you
2) An easier alternative is to simply build a landing page within your main domain that links to your donation page with a call-to-action button or graphic, and send them to the second domain. You may already have something like this in the form of a generic donation options page (example from Oxfam), but you’d probably want to create custom interstitial pages for your specific ads that have only one ask.
To be clear, this is a lesser-of-two-evils situation – we wouldn’t normally recommend this for any audience except your Google grant ad clickers.
PRO: Easy to set up
CON: Requires users coming through ads to take an extra step, possibly reducing conversion rate
3) If you are relying so much on the Google Grant that even these solutions don’t allow your organization the flexibility it needs, you may want to consider a switch to paid Google AdWords. Obviously it’s not free, which is the main reason you probably have a Grant, but a Grant has limits that full AdWords users don’t encounter. For some ideas on how to make that switch, check out the BONUS ADVANCED SECTION in this post.
PRO: More control
CON: Costs more money
You may have already noticed that having an empty redirecting page will NOT solve this problem for you – Google can detect when pages are using redirects and will shut down any ads that send users to pages that automatically redirect them. This is not just a violation of Grants, but of AdWords in general, and could lead to a suspension or ban.
Whether your Grant is a bonus that only drives traffic to one or two pages or you’ve got more Ad Groups than employees, it’s good to keep an eye on regular changes to the Grant program, and to keep solutions to its restrictions in mind.