Leveraging Google Ads and Onsite SEO for a Worthy Cause

Every now and again, we come across a project that may not call for higher ed expertise, but it’s for an incredible cause that we’re honored to be a part of. The Emily Whitehead Foundation (EWF) is a nonprofit organization committed to ending childhood cancer by promoting innovative, science-backed treatments. For us, working with them was an easy decision to make.

In order to reach discouraged families of pediatric cancer patients who were running out of options, EWF needed to do everything it could to spread its message. However, like many nonprofit organizations, EWF had more things to do than people to do them. They didn’t have digital marketing resources to optimize their channels and tell their story. They didn’t have the funds to grow their paid media.

Our skills in digital marketing, plus our awareness of resources like Google Ad Grants, proved critical. We submitted a Google Ad Grant application for the Foundation, and presented an SEO strategy that would drive traffic to their site and expand their reach.

Project Goals


Share Emily’s story with a broader audience

Emily was five years old when she was diagnosed with lymphoma, and she’s now 10 years cancer-free because of pioneering cancer treatment. Her story is incredible on its own, but it’s also the raison d’être of the entire Foundation. This inspirational story had to be shared on a grand scale.


Take advantage of valuable digital channels

When we started with EWF, they had some digital presence, but we knew there were opportunities beyond those channels that could further establish the organization in the digital space.


Promote the website’s clinical trial finder

The clinical trial finder on the foundation’s website is the most valuable resource for finding experimental treatments that save children’s lives. We needed to put a spotlight on this little-known resource.


Improve SEO

In an effort to improve SERPs and web traffic, we would target the same keywords on their website as in their Google Ads.


Since we started working with the Emily Whitehead Foundation, we’ve seen significant growth, both in Google Ads and organic search traffic. Specifically? A 30-40% increase in impressions and clicks. That’s 10.6k clicks, 172K impressions, and 6.2% CTR in six months.

We spent almost all their Google Ad grant money every month, putting those dollars to work with spectacular results. Just last year, Emily celebrated her 10-year anniversary of being cancer-free and appeared on the Today Show. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?


Right away, our team knew EWF could benefit from Google Ad Grants, an often overlooked yet game-changing $10,000-a-month grant offered to 501c3 organizations in need of a boost to their paid ads. We clinched the grant, and then the real work began.

We were in for multiple rounds of finding SEO keywords that would stick, both in Google Ads and onsite. Originally, Google flagged our ads because of the nature of the keywords, but we persisted. Because of our dogged approach, we created openings in the algorithm that proved that ad clicks led to extensive website engagement.

After two months of tweaking and re-submitting, we found the Goldilocks of SEO, and Google finally lifted its restrictions. It was like opening the digital marketing floodgates.

Analytics & Data

EWF has experienced major exposure and significant growth in the last two years. We continue to keep everyone organized with a KPI dashboard that includes baseline KPIs, acquisition, and conversion data points. This quantifies their results and helps them stay on track for future growth and opportunities.

The Drive to Make a Difference

We love what we do, no matter who the client is. And when our expertise in digital marketing makes a difference in the lives of so many, there’s no feeling like it. Show us a mission from the heart, and we’ll give you everything we’ve got.

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At Rowland we take pride in being knowledgeable, experienced, and accessible. We're ready to talk about how we can help you meet your higher ed marketing goals.