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RankMonsters is a Google Ad Grant Certified Professional Agency

Our team at RankMonsters is proud to announce that we’re now listed as Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals. As one of the first agencies to be included in this program, we’re very excited to continue our work with both the Ad Grants team at Google and with nonprofits around North America and beyond.

Google Ads Logo

According to Google, the goal of the Certified Professionals Community is to “enhance the Ad Grants experience for professionals and Grantees alike.” Google recognizes that there are many challenges for nonprofits when it comes to understanding the Google Ads platform and managing the Ad Grant. Through this initiative, nonprofits will be able to find trustworthy agencies and partners to help apply for and manage their Ad Grants.

When you partner with RankMonsters to manage your Google Ad Grant, you get an experienced and engaged partner to help with every aspect of your Grant account. We’ve worked with nonprofits across the US and Canada of every type and size, from single-person organizations to large museums and libraries.

Here are a few of the benefits you can see when you work with RankMonsters to manage your Google Ad Grant:

  • Fast Approval – If you don’t have the Grant yet, our team can help you get approved quickly and without unnecessary delays.
  • Free Applications – We will help your nonprofit apply for the Google Ad Grant for no charge and with no obligation to use our management services.
  • Experienced Management – Our team has years of experience managing both standard Google Ads campaigns and Ad Grant accounts. We can recognize issues before they become problems, and help respond to and solve them fast.
  • Full Reporting – Every month you get a complete and detailed report of your campaign’s performance and progress.
  • No Strings – Our goal is to help your nonprofit fulfill its mission. Because of that, all of our services are straightforward and can be cancelled any time.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to apply for or manage your Google Ad Grant, simply fill out the form on our site or give us a call at (405) 605-8218 today. We’re ready to help your organization take the next steps toward online success!

Google Makes the Switch To HTTPS Mandatory

Google Makes the Switch To HTTPS Mandatory

Take a quick look at your website’s URL. Do you see a little green lock and the word “Secure” next to it? If you do, congratulations – you’re on the right side of technology history. But if you don’t see that lock, you need to be aware of Google’s latest mandatory change. Starting in July 2018, Google will begin marking all sites that aren’t using HTTPS as “Not Secure.” Additionally, you could start to be penalized in organic rankings. So what do you need to do?

A Quick Primer on HTTP and HTTPS

For many years, HTTP – or HyperText Transfer Protocol – was the default way information was transmitted across the web. HTTP allows computers to talk to each other and share information in a standardized way. Any time you enter an address in your web browser, click on a link, or submit your password to a website, you’re actually making an HTTP request to another computer somewhere in the world. The content of your request, and the response you get from the other computer, determines what comes up on your screen.

The problem with this system is that it wasn’t built with the modern Internet in mind. Today, people do all kind of sensitive and personal things online. This includes transferring money, writing confidential emails, managing medical information and more. But HTTP doesn’t keep any of this information private. It’s possible to extract sensitive data like passwords, credit card details, and other personal info when you communicate with a website over HTTP.

This is the problem HTTPS solves. HTTPS – HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure – uses encryption to scramble information transmitted between computers over the Internet. When a website uses HTTPS, you can feel safe entering your password, financial details, or other personal information. Everything is protected at all points between your computer and the one you’re communicating with.

Google is pushing for more sites to use HTTPS to protect both standard users and websites. Additionally, HTTPS benefits you by allowing you to use new features on your website, like allowing users to take and send pictures directly or requesting a user’s location.

How Can I Get HTTPS on My Website?

To have your website marked as Secure, the first step is to purchase and install an SSL certificiate. SSL certificates are available from a wide range of vendors and authorities. However, finding a trustworthy one and installing it on your site can be complicated. You might not have much experience managing your website’s hosting and services. In this case we recommend reaching out to your webmaster or hosting provider for help.

After you have the certificate, you’ll also need to redirect your old, non-HTTPS website to your new secure site. You can use 301 Redirects on your site to automatically send visitors to secure pages. Setting up 301 redirects isn’t too complicated, but it can be time-consuming, especially on larger sites. Again, a good webmaster can help you handle this task and ensure your site is set up correctly.

Alternatively, you can work with a dedicated partner like RankMonsters. At our agency, we provide website hosting, SSL certificate setup, and website optimization packages for all types of businesses and organizations. This includes setting up HTTPS, making sure all your pages are redirected, and keeping your site up-to-date and optimized. We can help your site manage the transition from HTTP to HTTPS smoothly and professionally. Plus, we’re always happy to answer questions and to help you get results.

If you want to learn more about helping your website perform better, contact RankMonsters today at (405) 605-8218. Or, you can fill out our form to request more information. We’re looking forward to helping you succeed online, so contact us today!

How to Stay Off Google’s Naughty List

How to Stay Off Google’s Naughty List

Are you an organization that uses the Google Adwords Grant, or are considering signing up for it in the future? Then you should know that, just like Santa, Google has a naughty list. Unlike Santa’s list, though, it is difficult – if not impossible – to get off of Google’s naughty list.

Let us explain… Google owns and operates the Adwords platform, and that means they get to decide who uses it. They also have very specific rules and guidelines for how you’re allowed to use it – and if you make a mistake, you could end up getting your website or your entire account suspended – a.k.a., put on the Naughty List.

Most of the time, Google only suspends sites and accounts that deserve it. However, it is possible to land on the Naughty List by accident – even when you’re signing up for Adwords for the very first time. Unfortunately, no matter how you end up on the list, it’s always difficult to get back off it. Sometimes you simply can’t.

That’s why, when applying for a Google for Nonprofits Membership or the Adwords Grant, there are important steps to take to make sure you do not end up on the Naughty List.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Adwords Advertising Policies
One of the best ways to ensure your site isn’t in violation of Google’s rules and guidelines is to be familiar with what those guidelines are. That’s why a good first step is to look over the Advertising Policies for Adwords.

These policies form the backbone for acceptable use of the Adwords network. Violating these policies will generally only result in your ads being disapproved, but in some serious cases Google will suspend your website or your entire Adwords account. If you plan to manage your own Google Grant, we recommend becoming very familiar with the Advertising Policies to make sure you don’t violate them and run into trouble.

2. Check Your Website Carefully
Another important step in signing up for the Google Grant is checking your website carefully to make sure you haven’t unintentionally violated a policy. Remember, even if you violate a policy by accident, Google can – and sometimes will – permanently suspend your account.

Here are a few common issues we’ve seen that can prevent sites from being approved for the Adwords Grant, or that can lead to account suspensions.

3. Using the Wrong Website
When you apply for a Google for Nonprofits membership, you will answer some questions about your organization and provide some information. One of the requirements is that you provide a validation token from TechSoup – a long string of letters and numbers that Google uses to verify your nonprofit status.

What Google doesn’t make fully clear, though, is that if you want to apply for the Ad Grant under your Google for Nonprofits membership, your ads must use the same site as the one listed on your TechSoup profile when you completed your initial application.

For organizations with more than one website or that aren’t sure which URL is associated with their Google for Nonprofits account, this can present a problem. If you apply for the Ad Grant using a different site than the one you used in your initial application, Google could disapprove your request. Worse, they might approve it and then suspend your account.

You should note that you can apply to use more than one website under your Ad Grant account, but only after it’s been approved.

4. Using Redirects and Frames
Another common Adwords mistake is sending users to a page on your site that redirects traffic or includes data from another website. For instance, if your landing page uses a frame to display content from an outside website, this can throw up major red flags for Google.

In some cases Google will simply be unable to reach your website and will disapprove your ads. However, Google could also see your redirects as a violation of the “Circumventing Systems” policy, which almost always results in a full and irreversible suspension of your account.

If you’re not sure if your landing page is redirecting traffic, there are a few simple tests you can perform:

  • Type or paste the URL for the page you want to use in your ads into your address bar and push “Enter.” When the page loads, is the URL exactly the same or did it change? If it’s not the same, your URL is most likely redirecting to another page, which could cause trouble.
  • Use your mouse to right-click on your page. In the box that opens, you should see an option that reads “View Page Source.” However, in some cases you will also see “View Frame Source” underneath. If you see that second option, stop! If you continue, you could end up on the Naughty List.

5. Putting Bad Links On Your Site
When you put an ad on Adwords, you might not realize that Google isn’t just looking at your website when it approves it. Google’s “spiders” crawl the page you link to, of course – but they also crawl the other pages on your website, and then they crawl all the pages those sites link to as well. That means when you link to a service page from your ad, Google will follow it and crawl every other page it links to as well.

This can be a problem when your site has lots of external links. Perhaps you wrote a blog post a few years ago that linked to another page, or you have a list of sources for some content. If any of those other sites gets compromised or starts doing something malicious, Google can and will disapprove your ads or suspend your website or Adwords account as part of their “Malicious or Unwanted Software Policy.”

This is one of the toughest issues to solve with Adwords. Here are a few reasons we’ve seen websites and accounts get suspended through this policy:

  • Using an outdated WordPress plugin.
  • Linking to pages that previously hosted malware (but were since cleaned up).
  • Linking directly to a Google Maps URL instead of using the Google Maps API for location data.

What to Do if You Get Put on the List

If you do wind up on Google’s Naughty List, you don’t have too many options for how to get off. The exact steps you take will depend on what kind of penalty you have and what got your ads, site, or account suspended in the first place.

For suspended or disapproved ads, you should be able to recover quickly. Simply make the changes to your ads that Google requests and resubmit them for review. Within a day or two, Google representatives should review your ads and determine if they comply with the Advertising Policies. You can also call the Adwords Help Center for guidance and advice.

If your website is suspended – such as for violating the Malicious Software policy – it can be harder to get running again. You will first need to make sure your website is free of any malware or malicious programs, and that all your code and links comply with Google’s site guidelines. This review and cleanup process can take a while. Once you’re done, Google will manually review your site and determine if it can show ads again.

Finally, if your Adwords account gets suspended, your only choice is to submit an appeal and hope for the best. Google rarely grants reversals in the case of suspended accounts. It is very possible you will be locked out of Adwords, leaving you unable to use any of your $10,000 per month credit on Adwords ever again.

Avoid Suspensions By Working With an Experienced Agency

Another way to avoid getting put on the Naughty List is to work with RankMonsters. We’re an experienced online advertising and marketing agency, and we’ve helped dozens of agencies like yours apply for and manage the Ad Grant. Unlike many agencies and web design companies that offer grant management as a service, we have years of experience with Adwords and the Ad Grant and the results to show for it.

To get started with RankMonsters, sign up today and let us apply for the grant on your behalf as a free service. There is no obligation for management packages, even if you get approved. We simply want to help organizations utilize the amazing opportunity the Ad Grant provides. If you have questions or want to learn more, get in touch!

Big Changes Coming to Google Ad Grants

Big Changes Coming to Google Ad Grants

If your organization makes use of Google for Nonprofits and the Google Ad Grant, you should know that there are big changes coming to the system. On January 1, 2018, Google will begin implementing new rules for several aspects of Ad Grant accounts, including the ways organizations manage bids and the way they keep their accounts open. Here is a brief overview of what is changing and how you’ll have to adjust.

Changes to Bid Strategies

First, the biggest change: Google is lifting the $2.00 per click maximum bid for Ad Grant accounts.

This is a huge change for Ad Grant recipients, but it comes with a catch: You can only bid more than $2.00 per click when using the “Maximize Conversions” bid option, which sets your bids automatically using Google’s machine learning algorithms.

You can read more about the Maximize Conversions system directly from Google, but here is a quick rundown:

  • To use Maximize Conversions, you will first need to enable Conversion Tracking. This means you’ll need to have your website set up in Google Analytics and have to add conversion tags to specific actions or events on your site. Conversions can be any defined action, such as visiting a certain page on your site, filling out a form, or clicking a link.
  • Maximize Conversions is a campaign-level bidding strategy that requires its own budget. You cannot share a budget with any other campaigns in your account. For Ad Grant recipients, that means you will need to manually set the budget to use either the entire $329 per day or a pre-set portion of that amount.
  • You won’t have direct control over how much you bid for individual keywords. Instead, Google will use the historical performance and expected performance of your ads to set bids on your behalf.

This is a major change to the Ad Grant program that could open many new possibilities to grantees. However, it could also present a significant challenge if you aren’t an Adwords power user already.

Changes to Terms and Policies

Along with the change to bid strategies, Google also made a number of changes to their policies and rules regarding Grant accounts. Here are a few of the big changes you need to be aware of:

Website Changes
Google requires that your website must be owned and operated by your organization. However, they now also require that your website clearly state your mission and purpose. You also must be very careful about the claims your site and your advertisements make, especially if you are promoting specific services or consultations.

Furthermore, Google is now disallowing organizations from promoting websites with a commercial focus. That means if your organization primarily sells merchandise or requires fees for services, you must clearly disclose how you use money gained, such as by providing annual financial reports.

Account Management Policies
Ad Grant accounts have always had specific management policies, such as requiring grantees to log in to Adwords at least every 30 days and make changes at least every 90 days. Now, however, there are additional policies and rules:

  • Your account must maintain at least a 5% overall CTR each month. If your account goes longer than two months without meeting this goal it can be cancelled.
  • Ad Grant accounts must use specific geo-targeting to show ads in relevant locations.
  • Grant accounts must have at least one campaign with at least two ad groups, with two text ads in each ad group. Furthermore, each ad must have at least two sitelink ad extensions.
  • You must complete Google’s annual survey about the Ad Grant program. If you don’t complete the survey by the deadline your account can be suspended until after you complete it.

Some of these new policies might require major changes on your behalf, so make sure you start working on your account soon in order to meet the requirements.

Mission-Focused Advertising
Finally, Google is tightening their policies regarding keeping ad campaigns mission-focused. Google has always required that your advertisements be focused on the services of your organization, but now they are making adjustments to how they evaluate this rule. Most of these adjustments are based on the type and quality of keywords your account uses:

  • Organizations are still prohibited from using keywords for products or services they don’t own or manage, like “Google” or “YouTube.”
  • Your organization cannot use any single-word keywords except those on this short list of exceptions.
  • You can’t use overly broad or generic keywords such as “free e-books” or “download videos.” This also applies to broad keywords such as the names of individuals or the name of specific geographical places (“New York City”) or historical events (“The Battle of Hastings”).
  • Your keywords must maintain a Quality Score of 3 or more. You won’t be allowed to add any keywords with a Quality Score of two or lower, and your account could be suspended if you add or maintain keyword lists with too many low-quality keywords.

What These Changes Mean for You

Overall, these changes could be good for you if you are an active and dedicated manager of your Adwords account. They could allow you to make higher bids on desirable keywords and spend a larger portion of your $10,000 monthly grant.

However, if you aren’t an experienced Adwords manager, these changes could spell trouble. Google is obviously trying to weed out low-effort and low-engagement grantees with these changes, but they could also catch inexperienced nonprofits in their net. One thing is certain: if you need to make any changes to your account to stay in compliance and maintain your grant, you need to start working now.

Not sure what to do or what steps to take? RankMonsters can help. We’re Adwords Certified Partners with years of experience managing Adwords and Ad Grant accounts of every size and type. Take a look at our available packages or give us a call at (405) 605-8218 to learn more.

Google for Nonprofits Membership

Google for Nonprofits Membership

Nonprofit organizations have access to many special tools and opportunities, but one of the biggest is Google for Nonprofits. This Google program gives your organization access to several unique offerings. With a Google for Nonprofits membership your organization can apply for an Adwords Grant, use G Suite for Nonprofits and more. Learn more about the different programs and opportunities available as part of your Google for Nonprofits membership, then let us help you sign up and put those tools to good use.

Google for Nonprofits

Google for Nonprofits Tools and Offerings

When you enroll your organization in Google for Nonprofits, you get access to several special offerings straight from Google. Here are a few of the opportunities that are open to you through Google for Nonprofits.

G Suite for Nonprofits

G Suite is Google’s site management tool for websites. It allows you to set up email, share documents, and keep track of appointments to help your organization run more smoothly. G Suite for Nonprofits available for free as part of your Google for Nonprofits membership.

Google Ad Grants

The Google Ad Grant gives participating organizations access to up to $10,000 in in-kind advertising credit on Google Adwords. This allows you to advertise your organization and services on Google to perform outreach, solicit donations and connect with clients.

YouTube Nonprofit Program

The YouTube Nonprofit Program gives nonprofits access to special tools and production capabilities for YouTube videos and advertising, including the ability to solicit donations directly through your videos and access special video production spaces at no cost.

Google One Today

Google One Today is Google’s fundraising and donation platform for nonprofits. One Today allows you to receive donations without transaction fees, send receipts automatically, and share your campaigns through email, social media, and in the One Today app.

Google Earth Outreach

Google Earth Outreach allows your organization to access special nonprofit tools for Google Earth, including access to the Premium Google Maps API and up to one million free maps credits for publicly accessible websites.

Google for Nonprofits, and the programs offered as part of a Google for Nonprofits membership, are free programs offered by Google to eligible nonprofit organizations. RankMonsters works to help nonprofits manage and maximize these programs to improve their results.

Qualifications

To be eligible for the Google for Nonprofits program, your organization must:

  • Currently be a registered nonprofit holding 501(c)(3) status
  • Be registered with TechSoup
  • Acknowledge and agree to the application’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
    • Not discriminating on any unlawful basis in either hiring/employment practices or in the administration of programs and services.
    • Not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring/employment practices.
    • Agreement that the donation will not negatively impact Google’s current or future ability to do business with your organization.
    • Agreement that the donation will not be used to corruptly influence any government official to obtain or retain business or any improper advantage.

Please note that the following organizations are not eligible:

  • Governmental entities and organizations.
  • Hospitals and health care organizations.
  • Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities (however, philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible).

For more information about organization eligibility and guidelines, you can visit the Google for Nonprofits Eligibility page.

How Can I Get Started?

To get started with Google for Nonprofits, you can do one of the following:

Visit the Google for Nonprofits enrollment page and follow the instructions provided. You will need to follow Google’s qualification and eligibility guidelines and ensure your account is set up correctly before you activate any products through Google.

Alternatively, you can complete this form on our website to get started. We will need the following information for your Google for Nonprofit Membership Application:

  • EIN Number
  • TechSoup validation token – If you do not have a TechSoup account or are not sure, we will walk you through creating one or gaining access to it.
  • Information about your organization and your goals for Internet Marketing (for instance, who your organization is trying to target or reach and why).

RankMonsters does not charge a fee to apply for the Google for Nonprofits Membership on your behalf, but we do charge a monthly management fee if you choose to enroll in one of our nonprofit management programs. If you would like to learn more about the available packages and programs we offer, take a look at our services page.

Why RankMonsters?

RankMonsters is a full-service Internet Marketing Company that specializes in administering the Google Adwords Grant for nonprofit clients. We are passionate about working with charitable organizations and helping them succeed online.

The RankMonsters team has years of experience applying for and managing nonprofit-focused marketing campaigns. We can help you avoid getting denied or rejected, and we can appeal suspensions or rejections from the past. We have studied the requirements and guidelines for the programs carefully and can ensure your accounts are set up the right way.

If you’re ready to get started, visit our services page today to choose the level of service and interaction that is right for you. You can also call us at (405) 605-8218 to learn more or ask questions, or visit us on Facebook to see recent stories and updates!

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