How Do You Increase Traffic to a Non-Profit Website by 390% in 2 Months with FREE Media from Google Grants?

lessons from our LAB

March 20, 2014

How Do You Increase Traffic to a Non-Profit Website by 390% in 2 Months with FREE Media from Google Grants?

Our Digital Scientists are made up of tech-loving, results-oriented, passionate, digital marketing nerds who have an unnatural obsession with all things digital. Most likely seen glued to a screen and spewing new digital marketing trends.

Many non-profits (501c3) are eligible for a grant program from Google that can change their web results literally overnight if used correctly. Google Grants allows non-profits to sign up for a program that in our case study, allocated $10,000/month in free Google AdWords media. Of course, there are some restrictions:

  1. Your keywords have to cost less than $2.00 per click
  2. You have restrictions on the ad copy. (find out more about the program here)

As this is a remarkable program (and of course you can't beat the price of free), we’d like to share with you a recent opportunity and real world case study we encountered when one of our clients, Peter Rusin of Health World Education received this grant from Google.

Wait, What’s Google AdWords?

Oh yeah, I forget that not everyone works in digital marketing – Google AdWords is a Google advertising program that let’s you display paid advertising amongst organic search results. This paid advertising is often called PPC or Pay Per Click. Essentially, these ads are tied to what people are searching for on Google and is a very powerful and targeted way to reach your ideal audience. Google AdWords is a great outlet for online advertising; however, it can become very expensive, in both time and money, for an inexperienced user. Hence, it’s very possible for a click to be worth anywhere from $1.00 more than $20.00 a click and in some industries, such as legal, cost per clicks can be much higher.


Here is an example of a Health World Education ad promoting their free health worksheets


After guiding Health World through our digital strategy process, we began discussing the Google Grants program they had been managing internally for more than a year. As we specialize in PPC and comprehensive digital strategy, we were confident we could increase their results. Traditionally speaking, agencies that heavily favor strategy before tactics, can create highly targeted campaigns based on validated personas, to get the cost per click down to $1.00 - $2.00 / click. And if you’ve been following along thus far, and you do the quick math, this grant program could potentially drive more than 5,000 free visits to a site each month if leveraged correctly ($10,000 budget @ $2.00/click = 5,000 visits). The big caveat is “leveraged correctly” and this is where we came in.


Now, before we get into the aforementioned numbers, you have to understand what a digital strategy plan entails. We have learned from years of experience that knowing whom your ideal audience is and how you are going to improve their lives, is paramount to a successful digital strategy. While these two components are paramount, if you want to really achieve highly effective, ROI driven results, you will need to go a few steps further. At StringCan we dig deeper to understand the entire online spectrum for the client. With Health World Education, we successfully guided them through our entire Engagement Plan Process (a phrase we use to describe our digital strategy), which included:

  • Persona Development – Understanding Health World’s ideal audience.
  • Competitor Audit – Knowing what Health World’s competitors are doing and not doing online allows us to determine what is working and where there are opportunities with low competitor engagement.
  • Industry Survey – In order to position Health World, we had to thoroughly understand their industry and their target audiences. StringCan executed industry surveys and round table interviews to fully grasp all available opportunities in the market, as well as any potential impediments for our clients.
  • Goals and objectives – This process drives our digital strategy, and StringCan spent a lot of time working with Health World to truly understand and define their end goals for their website and digital marketing roadmap. If you would like to learn more about our strategy plans you can review our case studies on two of our other clients the World Trade Centers Association and China Mist Tea Company.


While we were responsible for Health World’s digital strategy, they were managing their PPC Google Grants ad campaign internally. Once we learned Health World Education was a part of the Google Grants program, and we understood their challenges managing their ad campaigns, we knew we could improve their bottom line. They were driving an average of 506 clicks/month (12 month average) and due to Google Grant's restrictions were only using about 10% of their allotted $10,000 Google Grants budget each month. As we have often found with client's existing Google PPC campaigns, their AdWords campaign structure was not built in a way to fully leverage Google's platform.

Now, even though they were using a free program and garnering 506 clicks, we became very excited by the opportunity and challenge of drastically increasing their numbers with a “limited” spending budget per click (under $2.00 per click). And since we love this client’s exceptional mission and great work they do for heath education, we decided we would rebuild their PPC campaign based on the personas (fictional representations of their ideal clients) we created. At the end of the month they could review the numbers and decide if they would like us to continue doing this as a paid service. At StringCan we are always seeking a “win-win” situation and wanted to prove to Health World we could significantly improve their campaigns.


Having to find relevant keywords under $2.00 that drove traffic from their ideal audience took time, but we did the research and built a robust campaign. Initially, our goal was to generate 2,000 clicks per month. We launched the campaign in January and by the second week of the campaign it was driving more than 1,000 visits per week, more than double the monthly average before. As you might have guessed at this point, we are still managing their campaign.

“We have been really happy with the results of the Google Grants PPC campaign since StringCan took it over, the 390% increase in traffic to our site has been exciting. We are now working with StringCan to optimize our site so we can continue to increase conversions and drive leads.”

— Peter Rusin, Executive Director of Health World Education


Here is a snapshot of Health World's analytics from January 5th into February during the time StringCan took over the Google Grants program management.



Now the fun part! We are driving a significant amount of traffic to the site and our work is done, right?

Not even close. Now the hard work begins and each day in the “AdWords Lab” we are doing small experiments, reviewing the data and making the campaign work better and smarter for our client.


If you are a non-profit and you are not leveraging the Google Grants program what are you waiting for? Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the Google Grants program:

  • Step 1: Signing up – You can find all the information you need to get started here
  • Step 2: Learn – There are numerous resources online for free that can help you build out a successful PPC campaign using today’s best practices – you can Google your way there.
  • Step 3: Consider becoming an AdWords Certified individual – Google offers a training program to become certified for free – Me, along with most of the StringCan team, are AdWords Certified and if you’re serious about managing your own campaigns, then this is highly recommended. AdWords has a very powerful management system and knowing how it works goes a long way.
  • Step 4: Do Keyword Research – Because of the $2.00 limit on keywords you have to be very smart about the keyword phrases you use and the ad groups you create. There are a lot of programs that can help with this research but Google’s free Keyword Planner is where I would recommend starting.
  • Step 5: Use landing pages – Think of the landing page or, the first page someone visits on your site, as the “hook”. If you are fishing with the wrong hook, you may have hundreds of fish passing you by, but you won’t get any bites. A targeted well-designed landing page is having the right hook – this is key to catching fish, otherwise known as converting visits.
  • Step 6: Know who you’re targeting – You will not be able to build a successful AdWords campaign if you don’t know your ideal audience, where they are online and how to speak to them. Spend the time to define the audience before you start your keyword research.
  • Step 7: Consider using a professional – If this all seems a bit daunting, or you just don’t have time to manage a campaign, you might consider finding an agency that is willing to manage Google Grant campaigns. Even though you’ll be paying management fees, you’ll be getting thousands of dollars in free media and you’ll know you in good hands.

Health World Education is an amazing non-profit company doing great things for our children. If you would like more information about their products or mission visit

For questions or inquires about any information mentioned in this post feel free to contact me at or comment below.

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