How to create, analyze and optimize Dynamic Search Ads

Automation poses a job security risk in almost every industry. As PPC marketers, algorithm-based tools have changed the face of our work.

Where we used to spend our work day doing keyword research, writing ad copy, and adjusting bids, Google’s machine learning automates tasks for easier account management. But don’t worry, we won’t be replaced by robots anytime soon!

A set-it-and-forget-it approach to automation will eat up your budget and flood your site with unqualified traffic. A human needs to work alongside machine learning to make this automation successful and steer the algorithms in the right direction.

This is especially true for Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs).

Why dynamic search ads matter

DSAs search your website (or specific pages) for keywords – no keyword research required!

The system dynamically delivers relevant landing pages and writes headlines for the ad. From ecommerce to B2B, dynamic search ads are important in every account for three reasons.

Find new keywords

15% of Google searches have never been done before. When researching keywords using the Keyword Planner tool, many keywords don’t show up because they haven’t already been entered into the Google search bar or because the search volume is low.

Queries are getting longer and more unique. Your current keyword set may not be capturing the terms that people are using to search for you.

to save time

Dynamic search ads don’t require any keyword research or ad copy creation (except for the description lines). Google automates these tasks for you.

When the messaging on your site changes or a new landing page launches, the promotional messages are updated so you can focus more on strategy, analytics, and other account optimizations.

identify gaps

Dynamic search ads crawl your site and test URLs that would not normally be used as landing pages. You may be surprised that a theme, topic or page that is not normally promoted converts well.

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Analyzing performance data across pages can tell you what content, format, or page layout is performing and/or converting best.

Get started with dynamic search ads

Begin the DSA process by reviewing your entire site and casting a wide net. Dynamic ad target options include:

  • Recommended categories for your site include multiple pages with a specific theme, such as: B. Product pages, blog topics, etc.
  • Specific webpages based on URL, category, page title or page content logic you choose.
  • All webpages target your entire site.

Exclude obvious areas like careers pages, investor pages, and topics that marketing budgets shouldn’t be focused on. Giving the system more pages to crawl speeds up the learning process and gives you more insights to drive optimizations sooner.

Dynamic Search Ads - Add a dynamic target.

Analyzing the performance of dynamic search ads

If you’re looking at your search term report and the search terms are converting well, make sure those keywords are consistently bidding by adding them to an existing non-DSA campaign.

It’s okay to leave the term in the DSA campaign, but the regular campaign can help control ad copy and bids.

After you have some initial insights from analyzing your top-performing keywords and landing pages, create ad groups that group similar pages together by topic, topic, product, or solution.

This allows you to take a closer look at what’s converting best in your analysis, and eventually pause underperforming ad groups. If ad groups have different goals, place them in separate campaigns.

Dynamic Search Ads - Dynamic ad targets.

Ad copy control

Lack of control over ad copy can be a concern for any brand, but there are steps we can take to give some rein to the reigns.

Check out the search terms report, which falls under Dynamic Ad Targets. This important report shows the search term for which an ad was served, the headlines used in the ad text, and the landing page served.

Dynamic Search Ads - Search terms report.

If the headlines used in certain ads were unfavorable, you can either update the text on the landing page or add that landing page as a negative dynamic ad target.

You can also choose to only serve specific landing pages as ad targets. Keep in mind that impression volume can be low if these pages don’t have lengthy content, since DSAs are limited in terms of the keywords they can pull.

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Alternatively, DSAs offer the option of writing two descriptive lines. Here you can mention specific brand messages, a limited-time offer, or other necessary words that need to be displayed to the user.

Optimization for high-quality conversions

Common problems with DSAs are unqualified traffic and low conversion rates/high CPAs. This can be due to a poor landing page experience, keyword/audience misalignment, and a lack of smart bidding.

If dynamic search ads are underperforming, here are some things you can do.

Keyword Exclusions

Take a look at your search terms by impressions report to focus on the highest volume keywords first. This will help you understand where the majority of your budget is being spent and potentially wasted.

Dynamic Search Ads - Keyword Exclusions.

Scan the list for irrelevant keywords that shouldn’t be spent on. You can exclude unwanted keywords in two ways:

  • Check the box next to the search term, and then select Add as a negative keyword.
  • Look for common themes that you might rule out. In this example, we see many search terms for “Return on Investment”. Instead of clicking the checkboxes to exclude these terms individually, you can save time by adding broad match “return on investment” as a negative keyword to the ad group or campaign.

Landing Page Exclusions

The same report can identify underperforming landing pages similar to the keyword exclusion method. In this case, check the box in this line and click on it Add as URL to be excluded.

Look at the user experience. Are there pages that don’t have a strong UX or don’t support the goal of the campaign? For example, if your goal is to download assets, delivering an ungated blog post will almost certainly have a low conversion rate since the page does not offer a downloadable asset or form. As mentioned earlier, ad groups and pages within a campaign should all have the same goal.

Negative dynamic ad targets can be set with precise URLs or rules based on category, page content, page title, or URL logic.

Use value-based bidding

Coupled with bid strategies like Maximize Conversion Value and Maximize Conversion Value with the tROAS option, dynamic search ads are homegrown. Setting clear goals for the algorithm to work towards improves the performance of your campaigns. When the system understands the most valuable conversions, it knows what to aim for.

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Ideally, value-based bids are used with offline conversions as the campaign objective, allowing machine learning to optimize the most important leads/sales based on back-end data.

Use audience targeting

Still not convinced DSAs are right for your account? Test them with a valuable first-party audience list.

The target group must be big enough to get substantial impressions. Because the people on this list are important to you, the exposure from delivering an impression and/or getting a click is valuable, even if they don’t convert.

Adding audience targeting to your DSA campaign should improve the quality of traffic and teach the algorithms who to track.

Dynamic search ads and more

The future of keywords in PPC marketing is in question. We can safely assume that DSAs are just the beginning of keyword phasing out as we know it.

As algorithms evolve and machine learning does more of the heavy lifting, we should be willing to accept and test new automated features if it means improving performance.

Use this as an opportunity to work smarter, not harder. Now is the time to shift the focus to strategic thinking, deeper data analysis, and delivering value elsewhere in the account.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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About the author

Kerri Amodio is Senior Digital Advertising Manager at Closed Loop. As a specialist in B2B SaaS marketing, she has become well versed in the implementation of digital advertising strategies in the areas of social, search and display while working internally for B2B technology companies. Kerri has been on the agency side at Closed Loop for almost four years, working with clients such as Slack, Netskope, Outreach, xMatters, Podium and Corporate Visions.

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