Huge, awesome search engine secret for non-profits

I’ve been holding out for a while on posting this. Honestly, I think I kind of felt like if I kept it to myself (or to the people who already knew about it) I could ensure that there was MORE for me. But then I thought, “This is GOOGLE. They have TONS of money. There’s plenty to go around!”

So I guess I’ll tell you about it!

Have you heard of Google Adwords? Basically, whenever you do a search on Google (and other search engines as well), you’ll see regular results (called “organic” results) but before those, you’ll see paid results–”sponsored” results, if you will. Here’s an example of what I mean. I did a Google search for “dogs for adoption kansas city” and this is the top of my results page:

You can see that the very first link that appears in the results has a slightly tan or peach-colored background; it’s very subtle. (The one that says “Adopt a Pet Today”). To the right it also says “Sponsored link.”

The company or shelter that this ad links to actually paid for this “result” (it’s really an ad) to appear in my search results. This means that it may or may not match my search terms. In this case, not really…because I searched for Kansas City dog adoptions, and I got a Nebraska shelter in my search results!

I can take a looooong time to explain how Adwords works. Basically you choose keywords that you want to target. So, for example, this shelter’s ad won’t appear if someone is searching for, say, golf clubs or Indian restaurants. With Google Adwords, the key thing is to make sure you target those ads very specifically and choose good keywords–otherwise you end up spending a LOT of money.

The only way you’re charged for Google Adwords is if someone actually clicks on your ad. So this NEHumaneSociety.org whose ad was displayed in my search results, they aren’t going to be charged anything for me to SEE my ad–but they will be charged if I click on it and go to their site.

How much are you charged?

It depends on the keywords. Some are more expensive than others. Generally, you pay per click (called PPC), and you establish your “bid” per click–”I will only pay 50 cents max per click,” and you also establish your daily limit–”this should not exceed $10 per day.”  “Disneyland” is the most expensive keyword, running at about $8.00 per click. Most keywords that are popular words, like “dog,” “cat,” “horse,” etc. are going to run you around 60 cents a click. Still pretty expensive!

Very specific or rare words, like names, for example, are going to be really cheap, as are phrases. “McWhirter Funeral Home” is going to be probably one or two cents per click, so they could get a LOT more exposure for their budget. Likewise, “dog adoption” is going to be incredibly pricey and competitive, but if you combine that with your city name (think narrowing it down), such as “dog adoption Kansas City,” then you’re going to get a MUCH lower PPC. Plus, it is going to help people find what they’re looking for. If someone searches for dog adoptions and they’re in Los Angeles, your ad isn’t going to be very relevant to them, is it? That would be a waste of time for them and a waste of click money for you.

Google also doesn’t WANT you to be too broad in your ads and keywords. For example, if my website is about dog and cat adoptions, I CAN’T advertise with keywords about golf or tennis. Google won’t let me. So you have to use keywords that actually pertain to what your website is about.

Google’s whole goal (besides making zillions of dollars) is to deliver superior, relevant search results to searchers.

So what is my super major fantastic secret?

YOU can get this all for FREE!

Google has a program called Google Grants that is specifically for nonprofit organizations. All you have to do is fill out an application, and you could be eligible to get up to $10,000 a month in Google Adwords budget! Free!

Their description of the program:

Google Grants is a unique in-kind donation program awarding free AdWords advertising to select charitable organizations. We support organizations sharing our philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy, and the arts.

In nonprofits that are using Google Grants, visits to their websites have doubled, on average. Yeah–TWICE the visitors. Think of the difference this can make for your organization!

You do have to have a Google account (which is free, and can be tied to any email address; you don’t have to have a Gmail account) to use the service, and you do have to have some ability to manage your adwords campaign. But they provide great tutorials and we are doing some on TheSocialAnimal.com as well.

So APPLY! More visits to your site will mean more donations, more volunteers, more adoptions. The sky is the limit!

Are you using Google Grants already? What difference has it made for your organization? What questions do you have? Post here and we’ll learn from each other!

Get in Touch!

I'm available via most social media, so drop me a line! I'll answer your questions and I really look forward to hearing from you and helping if I can!

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