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You’ve probably heard your webmaster or marketing department talking about Google AdWords. They likely used phrases like “negative keywords” and “click-through rates,” and probably talk about “bidding” on certain phrases. If you haven’t been paying attention to those conversations, now’s the time to start — Google’s “Google Grants” program gives nonprofits the chance of earning $10,000 in monthly AdWords advertising. Here’s a quick rundown of how Google Grants works and what nonprofits can do to make the most of it.

What is it?

When a nonprofit wins a Google Grant, they get an in-kind donation of $10,000 in monthly AdWords advertising. AdWords is Google’s advertising product, which runs on a pay-per-click basis. When someone advertises through AdWords, they pay for each click that is generated by their advertisement. Grantees are expected to use the full $10,000 every month, and their performance with the Grant can be used to determine if they receive additional funding in the future.

What’s the difference between AdWords and SEO?

AdWords and SEO are two tools that work to do the same thing. Both of them are used to try to boost traffic to a webpage. When using AdWords, companies “bid” on different keywords. When someone searches that keyword in Google, Google looks at the different companies that have bid on that word and ranks them based on their “Quality Score.” A quality score is determined by a number of things, but is basically an indicator of how well a page’s content matches the searched keyword.

You can use AdWords without using SEO, and you can use SEO without using AdWords. Using the two together will help you boost your page’s search engine rankings even more. It will also help you choose good keywords for your AdWords campaign, and will be useful when you re-evaluate AdWords keywords.

Where should I start?

You can read up on Google Grants, how they work, and how to apply for a grant here.

Since grantees are supposed to use the full $10,000 allowance every month, start by doing some research about the keywords that bring visitors to your site. This is where having established SEO practices in place will be handy — if you’re already familiar with what keywords people are using, choosing keywords for your campaign will be a bit easier. You can also use “negative keywords,” which will help you exclude traffic that isn’t relevant to your site.

If you receive a Google Grant, you’ll be able to work with an expert who will help you evaluate the success of different AdWords campaigns and help you tweak your keywords to get more traffic to your site.

What’s the end-game?

AdWords is a pretty straightforward marketing tool — it’s designed to help users boost their pages’ visibility in Google searches. If you win a Google Grant, you’ll get up to $10,000 in AdWords marketing. You’ll learn to tweak your ad campaign to get high-quality click-throughs, boost traffic to your site, and (hopefully) attract more interest for your mission.

Not ready for AdWords or Google Grants yet? Next week we’ll talk a bit about boosting page traffic through SEO — make sure you check back!

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