With little notice and even less fanfare, Google has made some major changes to the Google AdWords Grants Program. The new changes are set to take effect on January 1st, 2018 and failure to meet the new standards two months in a row can lead to having your grant canceled. If you are currently taking advantage of the Grant program then I highly recommend that you become familiar with the rules here.

Usually, these changes are small and rarely affect active campaigns, but there are a few changes that are going to cause many accounts to fall on the wrong side of the new rules.

Account Structure Changes:

  • Geo-Targeting is now required. This should already be being done for local charities but may affect larger regional and national charities.
  • 2 or more active Ad Groups per Campaign.
  • 2 or more active Ads Per Ad Group.
  • 2 or more sitelink ad extensions.

Keyword Changes:

  • Keywords with a Quality Score 2 or less. 
  • Generic keywords.
  • Single word keywords except for your own brand.
  • Brands you don’t own.

Performance Changes:

  • 5% Click-Thru Rate (CTR).

Not all of the news is bad though. The current cap of $2/click is being removed if you are using Maximize Conversions bidding.

The issue that will affect most account is the increased performance requirements of a 5% CTR vs the former 1%. This will catch a lot of accounts that were set up and forgotten. When the money is free, few people are willing to put effort into the process. Google has figured this out and decided that your Grants accounts must be actively managed.

Here is a list of things you can do now to help you through the new changes.

  • Pause all keywords with a quality score of 2 or lower
  • Pause all single word keywords
  • Pause all keywords with a high impression to click ratio
  • Make sure that you have the minimum numbers of Ad Groups and Ads for each campaign

If your account is very low performing, it may make sense to start over using only the top performers from all of your campaigns before trying to expand into new keywords.