Boosting Your Nonprofit’s Google Ad Rank Without Breaking the Bank

4 min read

Your ads are running, and you’ve gone through the steps to get your Google Ad Grant approved. There’s just one problem: your ads aren’t getting the results and the exposure they should be.

One possible reason is poor ad rank.

We’ve guided many nonprofits on the setup of their accounts, and poor ad rank is a problem that most don’t know they have. With recent changes to the Google Grants rules and ad rank regulations, the process to boost your score has become more elusive than ever. Read on to learn more about Google ad rank and how to boost your position without breaking the bank.

What is Google Ad Rank?

Before we get into how you can improve your Google ad rank, you might be wondering…what is it? Your ad rank is an invisible number assigned to each of your ads by Google that encompasses:

  • Bid amount
  • Expected click-through rate
  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page experience
  • Ad rank thresholds
  • Search terms used to trigger your ad
  • Extensions

You can learn more about these factors in the AdWords Help Center, but all of them influence when, where and if your ad is shown based on which of your keywords a user searches. At this point, you may be asking, “Do I need to improve all of these items in order to boost my ad rank?”

Not necessarily. While high performance in these categories will certainly help your ad rank, it’s important to stay focused on only what you can control. Think of your ad rank like your odds in a horse race –– constantly changing based on other bids and competitors in the race. You can’t control these factors, and attempting to would likely result in spreading your budget so thin that you end up losing money.

Unfortunately, Google keeps your exact ad rank under wraps, but you can get a better sense of how your ads are performing in relation to your selected keywords by analyzing keyword quality score. This ranges from one (the lowest score) to 10 (the highest score). Your quality score takes into account:

  • Expected click-through rate
  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page experience

The higher the quality score, the more likely your ad will cost less and earn a better position in a user’s search results. Quality score isn’t as robust as your private ad rank, but it is a great starting point to know if you need to improve your ad rank in the first place.

How Do You Improve Google Ad Rank?

There are many factors beyond your budget that go into calculating your score. You can improve ad rank without having to spend additional money by taking the following three elements of your ad into account.

Landing Page Experience

You would be surprised by how many organizations overlook their landing pages when setting up their ads. By ignoring landing page experience, you are inviting a high bounce rate and inadvertently lowering your ad rank. The good news is that Google gives you access to how well your landing page is performing in relation to your selected keywords in your landing page experience score number. You can find this number by navigating to the keyword view of your dashboard and customizing your columns. If your landing page experience score is lower than you expected, there are a number of ways to improve your landing page that don’t involve backend coding. The easiest way to boost your score is to promote clear, easy-to-understand language on your page that directly relates to the language you use in your ad. Your landing page experience score is constantly updating, so you should be able to see almost immediate results upon improving your page.

Keyword Research

By now, you can tell how important keywords are to your ad rank. If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s possible you may not have found your winning keywords yet. We recommend investing in a tool like Moz or HubSpot, but there are also many free options like Google’s Keyword Planner that can help you find relevant, low-cost keywords that your nonprofit can realistically rank for. The right keywords will help you boost your ad rank and save you money in the process.

Ad Extensions

One factor of ad rank that Google has stressed in recent years is ad extensions. If you are unfamiliar, an ad extension is extra text under your ad that enhances a user’s experience (see example below). This text could include links that lead to a relevant blog post or site page, or a clickable phone number for mobile users. Adding extensions helps your ad to stand out from your competitors and can boost your rank without requiring you to spend additional funds.

Source: Moz

Now that we’ve gone through a few ways you can improve your ad rank, it’s time to get to work.

If you are looking for more information on setting up Google AdWords for nonprofits, take a look at our blog post, “Integrating Google Nonprofit Ad Grants into Your Marketing Plan.” Then, when you’re ready to build Google AdWords into your marketing plan, download “The Essential Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template.

Showing 2 comments
  • Curtis A Hays

    Great article Jordan. Sadly Google doesn’t show Ad Rank very well especially in the old interface. To see your ad rank in the traditional user interface, go to your keywords campaign in your ad set. Click the columns button to modify your columns. Under Modify Columns select Quality Score and then you can add columns to your view so you can see what is affecting your quality score. I add “Ad Relevance” and “Landing page exp.”, which will give you values like “below average” “average” or “above average”. Then you know what to improve. Once you’ve selected the columns you’d like click apply.

    • Prosper STrategies

      Thanks for that note Curtis, great tip!

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