Google Ads

    Google Dynamic Search Ads Refresher

    Google debuted Dynamic Search Ads at the end of 2011, and they quickly became a favorite ad unit for marketers since they’re super easy to set up, and have a lot of important built-in benefits. Google continues to make updates to Dynamic Search Ads, most recently offering marketers more precise targeting options. 

    Want to make sure you're up on the latest? Keep reading...

    What are Google Dynamic Search Ads

    Google Dynamic Search Ads target relevant searches with ads generated directly from your web site. The dynamic part of the title is based on the fact that Google keeps a fresh index of your website inventory and uses that data to automatically create a brand new ad based on what a person is searching for. So if your company sells bulk office products and Person A searches for “discount bulk black rollerball pens,” he or she will see an ad talking about your black rollerball pens. And if Person B is searching for “cheap bulk college-ruled spiral notebooks,” he or she will see an ad featuring those. Within that ad, Google automatically fills in the headline and landing page based on the content of the page on your site. This is also a good reason to make sure your website content is relevant to what users are searching for. 

    Google Dynamic Search Ads are not a way to double up on your keywords campaigns, but rather to help fill in any gaps. That’s because Google will hold Dynamic Search Ads for any search where you also have an eligible keyword-targeted ad. That means you’ll get broader exposure for your inventory but won’t end up paying twice for what’s basically the same thing. It's always important to keep tabs on your performance and optimize for campaigns that make you meet your revenue goals. If you have sophisticated marketing data analysis and reporting needs, you can use a platform like AdStage. Or you can try something like AdStage for Google Sheets to get all your ad data into a spreadsheet. 

    Where Google Dynamic Search Ads appear

    There’s nothing special about the way Google Dynamic Search Ads look. They appear in the same location and look exactly the same as a text ad. It’s all about how they were generated. See below:

    Benefits of using Google Dynamic Search Ads

    As stated earlier, Google Dynamic Search Ads are a complement to your existing keyword-based campaigns, giving you a broader reach to deliver more clicks and conversions with less work. Here are some of the other built-in benefits to using Google Dynamic Search Ads:

    • Always fresh ads: Not only does Google create a new ad for each relevant search, but when you make changes to webpages in their index, they'll crawl your website again to make sure your ads are as up to date as possible.
    • Tailored ads for customers: As in the office supply example, instead of showing someone a blanket ad for bulk office products, Google Dynamic Search Ads help you serve up the ad that speaks directly to what the searcher is looking for. 
    • Control over your campaign: Show ads based on your entire website, or specific categories, or pages. You can also use negative keywords to help steer your Dynamic Search Ads (more on that below). 
    • Lots of saved time: With Dynamic Search Ads, no more mapping keywords, bids, and ad text to each product on your website.

    How to target with Google Dynamic Search Ads

    Dynamic Search Ads use content from your website to create and target your ads to relevant searches. Marketers have control over where that content is coming from. That includes specific categories that reflect the structure of your website, or all the pages of your website. Here’s how that breaks down:


    Landing pages from your standard ad groups 

    This category includes all webpages that you’re currently running search ads against, across all of your accounts. Use this to increase traffic on the webpages that you’re already using as landing pages in existing ad groups and campaigns.

    Other categories

    After indexing your website, Google creates targetable categories; in other words, sets of landing pages organized by theme. You can decide which sets of pages to target, how to group similar pages, and how deep to go.

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    URL targeting

    URL is

    You can target specific URLs. 

    URL contains

    You can target pages with URLs containing certain strings.

    Custom label

    You can use a page feed to attach custom labels to your URLs, then target those custom labels. More on that here.

    Other targeting types

    Page title 

    You can target pages with titles that contain certain words. 

    Page content 

    You can target pages that contain certain words that you specify.

    All webpages

    Includes every single page in your website's domain that is discovered by Google's search and ad crawlers 

    How to optimize for Google Dynamic Search Ads

    Google Dynamic Search Ads are pretty darn cool and effective, but there are some things you can do to make sure you get the most out of them. 

    • Get your site in tip-top shape: The quality of the site decides the quality of your ads. Here are a few tips from Google —
      • Put important information towards the top of the page
      • Consider how your website features images and video
      • Think about smaller screens
      • Make navigation simple
      • Use clear, eye-catching headlines
      • Clearly list the benefits your customer will get from your products and services
    • Make sure your site is accessible. That includes Avoiding iFrames and developing with progressive enhancement.
    • Stick to one language. 

    How Google Dynamic Search Ads are ranked

    Dynamic Search Ads are ranked the same way as keyword-based ads based on the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid that you've specified and the ad’s Quality Score. 

    Like other ad units, you can use negative keywords to avoid showing your ads on searches that don't convert into sales. See this post for more on negative keywords.

    How to create Google Dynamic Search Ads

    1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
    2. Click the Campaigns tab.
    3. Click the + Campaign drop-down menu and select Search Network only.
    4. On the "Select campaign settings" page, choose Dynamic Search Ads. Then enter your campaign name. If you want to use additional features (like the "Ad schedule" setting), which are only available in the “All features” campaign type, you can configure a Dynamic Search Ads campaign under that campaign type.
    5. Enter your domain and the language corresponding to the pages you want your ads to target.
    6. Select your targeting preference. Either target your ads based on Google’s index of your website or target them based on a spreadsheet of URLs (a page feed). Learn more about page feeds
    7. Expand the Location options (advanced) to select your target geographic locations.
    8. For your bid strategy, choose an automated bid strategy if you want Google to optimize your bids. We recommend the target CPA or enhanced CPC options.
    9. Enter your default bid and budget then click Save and continue.

    For more how-to instructions on creating an ad group, creating additional ads, or editing Dynamic Search Ads in bulk, check out Google’s support page

    When to avoid using Google Dynamic Search Ads

    Dynamic Search Ads are a pretty great tool to use in almost every case, except for one big exception. If your website is constantly changing, Google’s indexing technology will not be able to properly crawl your site for Dynamic Search Ads.

    Get started! Choose a campaign you’re already running and mix in a few Dynamic Search Ads. As always, don’t forget to let the data accrue before you pull a report to determine what’s working and what needs to change. 

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    Breanna Lambert

    Breanna has 10+ years’ experience in marketing, though the tides & trends have pushed her almost exclusively into digital. She lives in the hills above Boulder, CO and spends her downtime outside exploring with her husband, son, and pup.