Search
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu

About AdWords remarketing lists for search ads

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a feature that lets you customise your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they're searching on Google.

For example: When people leave your site without buying anything, remarketing lists for search ads helps you to connect with these potential customers when they continue looking for what they need on Google Search. You can set your bids, create ads or select keywords, bearing in mind that these customers have previously visited your website. Remarketing lists for search ads uses remarketing lists to enable these customisations.

There are two basic strategies for using remarketing lists with search ads:

  • You can bid on keywords that you don't normally bid on, just for people who have recently visited your site or who have converted on your site in the past. This can help you increase your sales. For example, you could bid on more generic keywords, but only for people who have previously purchased from your site.
  • You can optimise bids for your existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists. For example, you can increase your bid by 25% for those who have viewed your website within the last 30 days. Or, you could show a different ad to site visitors who have placed items in a shopping basket but have not purchased them.

Video

Watch a Google AdWords webinar to learn more about remarketing lists for search ads (available in English only).

How remarketing lists for search ads work

To start using remarketing lists for search ads, you create a remarketing list and add a snippet of code that you get from AdWords, called a remarketing tag, to your site. You can add the new remarketing tag to every page in your site. The code tells AdWords to add every site visitor to your list. When people visit your homepage, for example, the cookies associated with their browsers are added to the remarketing list.

Once the remarketing tag is added to your site, you can add the remarketing list to an ad group that has keywords, bids and ads with a message tailored to customers on the remarketing list. These customised ads will show to people who have already been to your site when they later search on Google. These messages won't be shown to people who aren't on the list.

Bear in mind: A remarketing list for Google search ads needs to have a minimum number of 1,000 cookies before the list can be used to tailor your search ads. This helps to protect the privacy of those who make up your list.

Example

People looking for running shoes visit a sports clothing website to check out the available styles, and look at the shoe section of the site. The site could add these shoppers to a "Shoe category" list. Then, for example, the site could bid more for these visitors the next time that they search for running shoes on Google.

See how an advertiser used remarketing lists for search ads

Tirendo, a European online tyre retailer, saw a 161% conversion rate increase with remarketing lists for search ads, leading to a 22% overall sales increase. Read the case study (available in English only).

Set up your remarketing lists for search ads campaign

When you visit the "Audiences" section of the Shared library for the first time, you'll find the "All visitors" list that we've created for you. This list will also appear on the Audiences tab, under the main Campaigns tab. Follow these steps to start using remarketing lists in your campaign:

  1. Create a new "Search Network only" campaign, or select an existing search campaign and ad group.
  2. Click on the Audiences tab, next to the Keywords tab.

    If you don't see this tab, you'll need to enable it by clicking on the drop-down menu at the end of the tab bar, and selecting Audiences.

  3. Click on + Remarketing.
  4. Click on the Add targeting drop-down menu and select Interests & remarketing.
  5. Click on the Select categories drop-down menu and select Remarketing lists. You'll find the "All visitors" list and any other rule-based lists that you've created for your different groups of site visitors. Add the remarketing list to your ad group.
  6. (Optional) Create additional remarketing lists.
  7. Add the remarketing tag across your entire site.

Some things to bear in mind as you set up your remarketing lists for search ads

  • You place a single tag once throughout your site, and create as many lists as you want based on sections of your site that people visit.
  • Categorising your visitors by creating more refined lists allows you to tailor your ads and your bid better to optimise performance.
  • You can place one tag in the footer of your site that will work on all pages. You can also paste the tag using a content management system.

These are the list types available for Google Search:

  • Visitors to a page (if based on rules about the URLs visited)
  • Visitors to a page with a specific tag
  • Custom combination (if based on the same list types as shown above)
Setting bids, tailoring ads and copying campaigns
  • If you want to change the bids on existing keywords for people on your remarketing lists, then you can use the bid adjustments feature. You can set bid adjustments for remarketing lists in your ad groups.
  • If you're planning to bid on keywords that you don't normally bid on so that you can show your ads to people on your remarketing lists, then you can create a new campaign with these keywords.
  • If you want to show different ads to people on your remarketing list, you can copy your existing campaign or create a new campaign before using remarketing lists for search ads. If you create a copy of an existing campaign for remarketing, you'll then have two different campaigns in your account, and you can change the bids for the keywords.

    When you copy a campaign for using remarketing lists for search ads, and create new ads for your site visitors, ads from the campaign with the remarketing list are shown to people on the remarketing list. Ads from the original campaign are shown to people who aren't on the remarketing list.

Tip

Once you've set up your campaign with a remarketing list, update the bids and budgets and create customised ads keeping in mind that people on your list have already shown an interest in your product or service.

Different list sizes for different networks

In the Shared library, you'll see two remarketing list sizes: one for Google Search and one for the Display Network. These sizes can be significantly different because there are two different types of cookies used to create these lists. In addition to this, some remarketing lists are available for both Google Search and the Display Network, while others are available for the Display Network only.

Strategies and optimisation for remarketing lists for search ads
  • Bidding higher for past site visitors can help you increase your revenue and ROI. If you're using remarketing lists for search ads to adjust your bids, focus on keywords that aren't yet in the top position. Remarketing lists for search ads allow you to adjust your bids for those customers that have been to your website before, and bid aggressively for this audience.
  • Bidding on new keywords can help you increase conversions. With remarketing lists for search ads, you can drive conversions from new searches by bidding higher on generic keywords, or by changing existing keywords from narrower match types to broader match types. When your ads are targeted to your past site visitors, choosing a broader keyword match type can help you improve your campaign performance. Popular keywords that might not be profitable for most customers can often become profitable for people who already visited your site.
  • When you target more generic keywords, use ads to highlight products that are most relevant to people on your remarketing lists. For example, if you're creating ads to show to people who visited the pet food section of your site, you can highlight pet food in those ads.
  • Tailor your ad text to your past site visitors. You can highlight new products, recent deals and offers to people who visited your site before, or you can tailor your brand ads based on recent product lines your visitors viewed.
  • Use data. The statistics on the Audiences tab can help you monitor how your remarketing lists are performing, so that you can set or edit bid adjustments as needed.
Using AdWords Editor to set your remarketing for search ads campaigns

You can use AdWords Editor to add remarketing lists for search ads to your campaigns. Follow the AdWords Editor guidelines to set up your campaigns, and then follow these steps:

Step 1: Add the remarketing lists to your ad groups by clicking on Add audience from the Audiences subtab under the Keywords and targeting tab. You can apply multiple remarketing lists to multiple ad groups in one flow. To see all the available ad groups, make sure that you’re viewing your entire account in the tree view. Lists are initially added to ad groups with a +0% bid adjustment, which can be changed by following the instructions in step 4 below.

Step 2 (important): If you're adding remarketing lists to your main search campaign that already uses keyword targeting, set the “Interests and remarketing” targeting setting to "Bid only". The targeting setting is available from the Ad groups tab, in the “Flexible reach” edit panel. You can change the targeting setting for multiple ad groups at once by selecting the ad groups in the data view. 

When you set the targeting to "Bid only", AdWords can show ads to all users based on your keywords and applies bid adjustments that you've set for your remarketing list.

If you're setting up a duplicate campaign for remarketing lists for search ads, set the targeting to "Target and bid". With this setting, AdWords can show ads in this campaign only to website visitors on your remarketing list.

AdWords Editor's default setting is "Target and bid", which restricts your traffic to people on the remarketing list only.

Step 3: Post your changes and monitor your remarketing lists’ performance compared to the rest of your account’s performance.

Step 4 (optional): After reviewing your remarketing list performance, you might want to modify bid adjustments to match your target ROI. You can use AdWords Editor to adjust remarketing list bid modifiers in several ways:

  • Within AdWords Editor: First, select the remarketing list bid modifiers that you want to adjust, or your whole account in the tree view. Next, select the Audiences subtab under the Keywords and targeting tab. You can sort and filter to find the lists whose bids you want to modify and then select all the lists that will share the same bid adjustment. Enter the new bid adjustment (+50% should be entered as 50) and post your changes.
  • Copy adjustments: AdWords Editor lets you export your list settings, make changes in programmes such as Google Sheets, and then copy and paste your changes into AdWords Editor. First, go to the relevant campaigns or your whole account in the tree view and select the Audiences subtab under the Keywords and targeting tab. To export your list settings, use the toolbar to select Account > Export > Export current view and save the file. You can use a spreadsheet application, such as Google Sheets, to modify list bid adjustments. Copy all of your changes including the “Campaign”. “Ad Group” and “Bid Modifier” columns. Paste and apply the changes within AdWords Editor by clicking Make multiple changes from the Audiences subtab under the Keywords and targeting tab.
  • Import adjustments: You can also export your list settings, make changes in programmes such as Google Sheets, and then import and apply those changes. First, go to the relevant campaigns or your whole account in the tree view and select the Audiences subtab under the Keywords and targeting tab. To export your list settings, use the toolbar to select Account > Export > Export current view and save the file. You can use a spreadsheet application to modify list bid adjustments . Save all of your changes including the “Campaign”, “Ad Group” and “Bid Modifier” columns as a CSV file. Import and apply your changes in AdWords Editor by using the toolbar to select Account > Import > From file and import your file. 
Was this article helpful?
Sign in to AdWords

Get account-specific help and tips by signing in with your AdWords account email address, or learn how to get started with AdWords.