Responsive Search Ads Best Practices

April 14, 2022 | Amplify

If you talk to a dozen different people you’ll probably hear a dozen different opinions about ad formats for Google, but we at Layer Cake Digital have been big fans of Responsive Search Ads (RSA) for years, well before Expanded Text Ads (ETA) were officially announced as being retired in 2022.

The requirements for a Responsive Search Ad are very simple:

  • Between 3 and 15 Headlines
  • Between 2 and 4 descriptions
  • A final URL
  • Optional: display path for the URL

Google’s machine learning algorithm will take these headlines and descriptions, mix and match them to test combinations for you (almost like A/B testing, without the hassle), and determine the best combination to display over time. This ensures the most effective message will always be shown to the viewer.

Here are a couple of our favorite RSA best practices curated from our friends Moz, which we incorporate into our own recipes:

1. Add at least one responsive search ad per ad group with “good” or “excellent” ad strength

Google recommends adding at least one responsive search ad per ad group. Use the ad strength indicator to make sure the responsive search ad has a “good” or ”excellent” ad strength, as this improves the chances that the ad will show. Remember, the maximum number of enabled responsive search ads allowed per ad group is three, and it’s best to create very specific ad groups based on your product category.

It’s best to create very specific ad groups based on your products with at least three quality ads, as recommended by Google. This enables Google’s systems to optimize for performance and may result in more clicks.

2. Add several unique headlines and descriptions

The power of the flexible format of responsive search ads lies in having multiple ad combinations and keywords that can match customer search terms. This helps to increase search relevance and reach more customers.

When building your responsive search ads, add as many unique headlines as you can to increase possible ad combinations and improve campaign performance.

1. Create at least 8-10 headlines so that there are more ad combinations to show. More ad combinations help to increase ad relevance and improve ad group performance.

  • To increase the chances that the ad will show, enter at least five headlines that are unique from each other. Do not repeat the same phrases as that will restrict the number of ad combinations that are generated by the system.
  • You can use some headlines to focus on important product or service descriptions.
  • Include your popular keywords in at least two headlines to increase ad relevance. As you create the responsive search ad, the tool will recommend popular keywords in the ad group to include in headlines to improve ad performance.
  • Make sure that you DO NOT include keywords in three headlines so that more ad combinations are generated. Instead, you can highlight benefits, special services, special hours, calls to action, shipping and return policies, special promotions, taglines, or ratings.
  • Try adding headlines of different lengths. Do not max out the characters in every headline. Google’s systems will test both long and short headlines.
  • There are 30 characters for each headline.

2. Include two descriptions that are unique. The maximum is four descriptions.

  • Descriptions should focus on describing product or service features that are not listed in the headlines, along with a call to action.
  • There are 90 characters for each description.

Source: Moz

Following these responsive search ads best practices, and leveraging existing content from your well-performing existing ads can be a recipe for success, but don’t sacrifice ad strength in favor of leveraged content.

Google ranks ad strength from Poor to Excellent, and reaching Excellent can result in up to 9% more clicks and conversions, according to Google. The responsive ads interface includes a “View Ideas” button to provide you with some missing and suggested keywords, and will offer the following recommendations if needed:

  1. Add more headlines (keywords!)
  2. Make the headlines more unique (keywords!)
  3. Make the descriptions more unique (keywords!)
  4. Include more popular keywords in the headlines (in case you didn’t get the keyword thing)

Augmenting your existing PPC campaigns by implementing Responsive Search Ads is a breeze, especially since you can leverage existing high-quality headlines and descriptions from your old expanded text ads.

You can also leverage RSA assets for other tactics such as Responsive Display, Discovery & Performance Max – but that’s a topic we’ll dive deeper into in a future post!

Have we missed your favorite responsive search ads best practice in this post? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more, step into our kitchen and schedule a one-on-one with our CEO & Founder, Jared Foxworthy!

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