The two major changes that nonprofits need to pay attention to involve costs-per-click (the price that you pay for each click on your ads) and clickthrough rates (how often people who see your ad end up clicking on it).

The change: Eliminating the $2.00 cap on costs-per-click (CPC).

What it means: Start bidding with Maximize conversions and relevant, high-yield search terms will be within your reach.

The $2.00 cap has been a thorn in the side of search engine marketers for years and eliminating the cap is cause for excitement. Organizations will build their campaigns using an automated bidding strategy called “Maximize conversions” to open up keyword possibilities as prices have increased since the program began.

“Maximize conversions bidding is an AdWords smart bidding strategy that automatically determines the optimal CPC bid to help get the most conversions for AdWords campaigns while also ensuring your organization adequately spends its budget,” Aine Creedon for Nonprofit Quarterly.

Before you start bidding with Maximize conversions, your nonprofit needs to set up conversion tracking to measure the effectiveness of your ads when it comes to online purchases (or donations), newsletter sign-ups and more. Once you’re set up, Maximize conversions draws on your account history to evaluate and find an optimal CPC bid for your ad each time it’s eligible to appear.

The change: Increasing click-through rates (CTR) to stay above 5 percent.

What it means: Time to adopt competitive strategies or face account cancelation.

If eliminating the CPC cap is the good news, then increasing the CTR may seem like the bad news – but it doesn’t have to be. While this change will likely result in an influx of canceled accounts at the onset (Google announced that Ad Grants accounts that fall below 5 percent for two consecutive months will be canceled) it will spur others to maximize the $10,000 allowance from Google.

One way to increase your rates? Increase the quality of your keywords. Google’s stricter guidelines within this policy change will help push nonprofits’ in the direction of increased CTR by way of keywords. Keywords must now have quality scores of 3 or higher on a scale of 1-10 and no more overly generic or single-term keywords (with a few exceptions). While the keywords guidelines may feel like another hoop to jump through, by abiding by them you in turn increase your CTR, maintain your account’s status and maximize your nonprofits’ exposure.

A few notes to keep in mind:

  • Ad Grants accounts must have specific geo-targeting and AdWords must have two active ad groups per campaign with at least two sitelink extensions. Visit Google’s support page for all the details.
  • If suspended, your nonprofit’s account won’t be blacklisted forever and you can request reinstatement once your account is compliant with Google’s specifications.

With more than 35,000 nonprofits using Ad Grants across more than 50 countries, Google’s policy changes are all about quality control and urging nonprofits to put effort into their accounts to get the best results in an increasingly competitive paid search market. Google’s view of these new policies is that they bring clarity and raise the standards of this free program, now it’s on nonprofits to rise with them.