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Optimizing Dynamic Search Ads: Google Best Practices

Official Checklist for Reaching People without Keywords.

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) feature custom-tailored headlines and landing pages that help you reach customers as they search - all without you needing to stay on top of a detailed keyword list. Here are recommendations to get the best possible performance from your DSA campaigns.


Use Dynamic Search Ads to Reach Customers [Video]

The videos in this guide reference the previous version of AdWords. Learn how to check which version you're using.

Use Dynamic Search Ads to Reach Customers

In this video, we'll cover a couple of key reasons to use Dynamic Search Ads: 1) Reaching customers without needing to maintain a keyword list, and 2) Taking advantage of customized ads.

1. Create targeting groups based on user behavior

Why: Categories are customized based on the content of your site. Ads only match to searches covered by your targets when you have a relevant landing page.

  • Create one DSA campaign per language. 

Why: Your language targeting should match your website’s.


If you have sites across different languages, DSA can be a great way to test international expansion to new markets.

  • Consider creating an all-website auto target.

Why: This option ensures that you’ll cover all relevant queries to your site where you also have a relevant landing page.


Queries that match to more than one DSA target within one campaign will prefer the more specific target - whichever target covers fewer pages of your site. Think about setting lower bids for all-website targets and their less specific traffic.

  • Separate out high value dynamic ad targets based on insights you uncover in the categories report.

Why: This report displays performance data to help you identify high-performing categories. Adjust your strategy based on the traffic you’re receiving.


Even if you notice top-performing terms in your search terms report, avoid adding them as keywords in other campaigns. DSA is already reaching those terms with customized, longer headlines and specific landing pages.

  • Create different ad groups for your different dynamic ad targets. Be sure to implement the dynamic tracking URLs that make the most sense for you and your tracking systems.

Why: While DSA headlines are customized and often longer than standard headlines, new ad groups allow for more tailored description lines that are more relevant to a user’s query.

Create DSA Targeting Groups Based on User Behavior - Google Best Practices

In this video we’ll talk about the steps that you should be following with your targeting: 1) Use recommended categories; 2) Create an all webpages dynamic ad target; 3) Separate out high-value targets; 4) Create different ad groups for your different targets.

2. Exclude traffic you don't want to be captured by your DSA campaign

  • Exclude non-transactional URLs, page content and titles from your main DSA targets. 

Why: Sections like blogs, career pages or out-of-stock/discontinued items might not provide a good return on your investment.


Create dynamic ad target exclusions for things like PAGE_CONTENT contains “out of stock” or “not available online” and URL contains “jobs” or “FAQ.”

Why: Save money by excluding queries that aren’t proving successful.

  • Whenever pausing or removing a keyword from another search campaign, add it as a negative to your DSA campaigns.

Why: DSA would cover any gaps in coverage created by a paused keyword, even if it’s a gap you don’t want filled.

Exclude Traffic You Don't Want To Fine-Tune Your DSA Campaigns

In this video, we'll cover how you can accomplish this through a handful of straightforward steps: 1) Exclude non-transactional parts of your site; 2) Look for negative keywords; and 3) Add paused keywords from other campaigns as negatives to your DSA campaigns.

3. Maximize results by combining DSA with auto-bidding or RLSA

Why: DSA’s automated reach works well with automated bidding. Auction-time signals - things as precise as the exact wording of a user’s query - can be used to set your bid.

Why: If users have already expressed an interest in your site, you can set customized bids for those pre-qualified users.

Case Study

Launched in 2005, trivago has quickly become one of the world’s largest hotel search engines. Operating in over 50 markets in more than 30 languages, the company helps millions of people compare over 900k hotels from hundreds of booking sites every day.  They created Dynamic Search Ads for all their markets using category recommendations coupled with conversion-based automated bidding.  The results?  Up to 140% higher CTR on search terms for DSA vs. original ads, significantly lower CPAs for established markets and significant conversion gains in newer markets.

Combine DSA With Other Tactics to Improve Performance - Google Best Practices

In this video, we'll cover the following features: 1) Add all relevant ad extensions; 2) Use AdWords automated bidding; and 3) Layer Remarketing Lists for Search Ads onto DSA campaigns.


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