As many Google Grants managers are probably aware, Google recently updated compliance policies for the program. Among the new standards (like the 5% click-through rate minimum), you may have noticed language about low quality score and one-word, branded, or “generic” keywords. Google’s own policy page (https://support.google.com/grants/answer/4410314?hl=en) provides frustratingly vague descriptions of keywords that could be considered generic. Until Wednesday, April 4th, it wasn’t clear how Google would be enforcing keyword policies.
Accounts that were noncompliant with click-through rate regulations were given 60 days to become compliant, and a warning appeared within the user interface notifying PPC managers if accounts fell below the threshold. Many of us speculated that Google would enforce keyword regulations with some kind of programmatic detection designed to flag keywords, or simply wouldn’t serve ads on them at all. On April 4th, I noticed that a number of accounts started to receive warning notifications just like in the early days of the new click-through rate regulations. It seems that Google is cracking down in possibly the most vague way possible. If your account is in violation of keyword policies, there are a few measures you need to take.
- Filter all keywords for quality score. At the “all enabled campaigns” level, create a filter for keywords with a quality score of 2 or below. Pause all of them. This will ensure that you’re not attempting to serve ads on keywords below Google’s new acceptable quality score threshold (3).
- Pause all keywords that mention a brand name other than your own. This might be tedious based on the diversity of your Grants account, but it absolutely must be done. Tedium is in the future of all Grants managers, at least for a little while.
- Eliminate all one-word keywords. Depending on the number of keywords that you’re targeting, this could be a manual task within AdWords, or you could download keywords at the ad group level. If you export keywords to a spreadsheet, you can use a LEN function (https://www.extendoffice.com/documents/excel/933-excel-count-words.html#a1) to count the number of words in a cell, delete those with a count of “1,” then re-upload your list.
Unfortunately, many two-word keywords will still be noncompliant. Google’s description of “generic keywords” is as follows: “Overly generic keywords like 'free videos', 'e-books', 'today's news', 'easy yoga', 'download games', 'job alert', names of places, and names of historical events/people.” To a PPC manager staring at 5,000 or more keywords within a Grants account that’s already compliant with the click-through rate standards, this is most likely headache inducing. If you want to get compliant as quickly as possible, you may want to try labeling and pausing all two-word keywords as well. We all hope that Google will elaborate further and give nonprofits the tools they need to stay compliant with Grants. As always, we’ll keep you posted.