How to Fix a Google Ad Grants Account with No or Low Clicks

Last month, we started working with The Evolve Project, a group that conducts anti-bullying seminars for kids, their parents, and teachers. The account was left for dead by their previous consultant, and hadn’t brought in any traffic in months.

Through solid strategy and Ads management, we were ultimately able to resurrect the account. All it took was some patience and TLC. And the best part is, it’s still growing! Read on for the full story.

The Evolve Project’s Problem

TEP needed to attract more visitors through Ad Grants in order to promote an online auction & book more seminars. But the situation quickly got more complex once we looked at their account.

Their previous Ad Grants consultant had set-up the account, then disappeared and left TEP out to dry. Google Ads require constant management in order to be effective, so The Evolve Project’s account quickly devolved into nothing. Below you can see the initial, strong performance, but then a quick drop-off once maintenance was neglected.

 Performance had ground to a halt Performance had ground to a halt

By the time we got in touch with TEP, they had only gotten 14 Impressions, and not even one click in the past month.

So we took a big breath and got to work.

Step 1: Build a Solid Campaign with Manual Cost-Per-Click

The first thing we did was scrap all the existing campaigns to start from scratch. In hindsight, it may have been a good idea to export them for archiving purposes first, but it all worked out okay. Google uses historical performance as a factor for when & where they decide to show your ads, so we wanted to get as far away from the past as possible.

We then dove into Google’s Keyword Planner and TEP’s website to devise a keyword strategy that promised lots of relevant traffic. Ultimately we settled on campaigns targeting searches like “how to stop bullying” and “motivational speakers for schools”.

The most critical piece of this entire stage was to take TEP’s campaign off the “Maximize Conversions” bid strategy, and re-impose the $2 per click bid limit with Manual Cost-Per-Click.

Why would we want to restrict our bids to $2? Because Maximize Conversions uses past performance to analyze when the best time to show an ad might be. For high-performing campaigns, it’s an awesome way to extend your reach and bid limit. But in our case, it penalized us for the previous consultant’s poor job.

Manual CPC allowed us to further divorce ourselves from the past, and start appearing in relevant searches. For the first month, we allowed the account to proceed like this, just gaining some traction with Google’s algorithms:

 Progress was slow, but steady with our initial strategy Progress was slow, but steady with our initial strategy

Step 2: Flip the Maximize Conversions Switch

By the beginning of January, the account was performing well enough for us to consider flipping Maximize Conversions back on. But before we took that jump, we made sure to update what qualifies as a “Conversion” in TEP’s Ads account.

 The updated Conversion Actions The updated Conversion Actions

The whole point of Maximize Conversions is to well, maximize the amount of people performing an action on your website. If the actions you defined as conversions are broken, irrelevant, or really obscure—as was the case with The Evolve Project—Google won’t see anyone convert, and your ads won’t show as much.

By defining new conversions like “visit the contact page”, which we already know a lot of people do, we ensured Google’s algorithm will notice people engaging with TEP’s site. So when we finally went back to Maximize Conversions, the increase in traffic was dramatic!

 You can see how much more traffic Maximize Conversions brought in on Jan 9th vs a whole month of Manual CPC. You can see how much more traffic Maximize Conversions brought in on Jan 9th vs a whole month of Manual CPC.

Conclusion: Does this work?

Although The Evolve Project still has a ways to go, the initial data are telling us that this method of reviving an old Ad Grants account does indeed work.

By removing everything that would penalize us in Google’s algorithm, starting off slow in Manual CPC, and then finally moving to Maximize Conversions, we were able to build momentum towards better and better engagement.

If your nonprofit is suffering from a poorly managed Ad Grants account, contact us for help. There is no commitment necessary. You will receive a free consultation.

Do you currently have a Google Ad Grants Account?

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2 thoughts on “How to Fix a Google Ad Grants Account with No or Low Clicks”

  1. Gravatar image of Jason King

    Good tip about not switching to a smart bidding strategy too early. I’ve seen people get almost no impressions because they set their campaigns to Maximize Conversions right off the bat. The usual advice is to wait until there have been 15 clicks in a 30 day period, then switch… but sometimes you can get away with fewer.

    On a brand new, or previously inactive account, especially if the website is well structured with good content, I find dynamic search ad groups really helpful. They help fill in the gaps in your advertising strategy, and can be set up quickly. They also usually get good CTR. Over time, as you write more ads to target more landing pages, dynamic search tends to become less useful.

    1. Gravatar image of Jason Jensen

      Thanks for the tips! I’ll make sure to remember that 15 clicks number.

      Do you find that to be the case even for well-performing accounts, too? If I know a campaign is gonna pull decent numbers from my initial research, I typically just put them straight on Max Conversions.

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