Recently, I gave Google’s Dynamic Search Ads a try in one of my higher-volume accounts. The concept of this former beta seemed a little risky, so, like all of the new ideas Google pushes out, I decided to proceed with caution. I only tested it in one geo, with a low bid to start.

The results?  Complete and total awesomeness: lower CPA and higher CVR for a crapton of conversions. Granted, this product isn’t right for every account, but for good candidates, here are a couple of quick facts on the matter:

What is it?

Basically, for dynamic search ads, instead of using keywords for targeting, Google uses the content of your website as targeting. It crawls your site and then matches queries based on your content. You will set your D1, D2, and Display URL; Google will dynamically create a headline and choose a destination URL.

Who is this good for?

Dynamic search is good for companies whose websites feature a lot of different products and services. It is especially good for clients with seasonality in their product line.

Basically, this is a good time-saver for those who might not want to take the time to customize ads and optimize keywords for thousands of different products. It is also a good way to capture additional traffic, in the instance you are missing some keyword coverage.

Who is this not good for?

Per Google, dynamic search is not best for those who have only a small line of offerings/landing pages. Also, it gets a little tricky with customizable gift websites. Google also warns that, right now, this program is not best for daily deal sites, but they are working to make it more usable for them.

How do you set it up?

Like most best practices with Google, these ads need to go into a separate campaign.

dynamic search ad campaign

You’ll need to designate this as a dynamic search campaign. You’ll then need to scroll down to ad extensions. If this is your first dynamic search ad, you will need to click +create new extension and add your site.

Next, you’ll need to create an ad group (as you might assume). From the “create an ad” section, make sure you select ‘dynamic search ads’.

If you need to add tracking, it gets a little complex. If you want to append analytics-style tracking, in the destination url spot, you will add {unescapedlpurl}, then after that, append your tracking.

dynamic search ad tracking

Next, you’ll want to hop over to the auto extension tab, where you can create targets.

There are five different types of targets. This comes in handy when you have different categories of products – you can bid differently if they perform differently. The five kind of targets are:

– All webpages

– Categories (groups of similar products i.e. “shoes”, “clothes”) generated from google’s organic search index

– URLs (pages containing a specific string in their url)

– Page titles (titles containing certain words that you specify)

– Page content (pages containing certain words that you specify

From here, you can decide what is the best targeting for your website (I’ve used categories and all webpages) and then bid accordingly.

One important caveat: you’ll want to, most likely, exclude some pages. These pages could be any pages with out-of-stock products, pages with biographies of the company owners, your jobs page, or pages with user testimonials. If you include these pages, you could end up getting matched to a funky query or having a funny dynamically generated headline.

Up Next – Optimize

After releasing the dynamic search campaign, you’ll want to immediately start checking the SQR to see what queries you are getting matched to. You can add negative keywords as with any other campaign. Also, you can look at converting and high click-volume queries for keywords to add.

Once again, you’ll want to jump back over the the autotargets page and, from the data you acquire, optimize your bids as most categories will probably perform differently. “All webpages” most likely will perform the worst, but it really depends.

Additionally, you’ll want to use all best practices on this campaign, like any other. Make sure you check it frequently, add sitelinks, etc.

Finally, my biggest concern with this campaign – as anyone in SEM knows, we have a lot of bad typists and/or spellers out there. Will a poorly spelled but relevant query end up in a headline? No, Google will correct it. Will a poorly spelled query end up not getting matched to relevant content on your site? Most likely no, Google will use its usual matching principles.

Again, as with any new campaign or experiment, proceed with caution and apply best practices.  You might end up watching the conversions roll in and finding new keywords.

1 Comment

  1. Joe Leach August 4th, 2013

    Thanks for the positive review- most are not so happy with DSA. I am going to give it a whirl- but wondering what to do with the keywords section in setup? Im confused. Thought the idea was NOT to have keywords, but google clearly wants you to ad some in setup…any advice?

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Jaime Sikora
Jaime Sikora is a PPC & Display Specialist at Nadex. Jaime graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Advertising. Prior to joining 3Q Digital, she worked in the newspaper industry at the Chicago Sun-Times. In her spare time, Jaime enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time at the Chicago lakefront.