Dynamic Search Ads: Get Comfortable Feeling Uncomfortable

For years, Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) have been a powerful tool in paid search marketing. 

Yet many advertisers still hesitate to use them. 

Why the resistance? 

Because advertisers don’t have as much control over DSAs as they do regular search ads.  

And that makes them feel uncomfortable.

I totally understand the sentiment. But based on our experience, the performance of these ads can more than compensate for any feelings of discomfort.

Further, while you have less control over DSAs, you still have some if you know how. 

Here’s what you need to do to use Dynamic Search Ads with confidence.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Let’s start with a refresher on what makes DSAs different from regular search ads. 

DSAs are automatically generated by Google based on the content of your website. Google pulls the HTML title of your page, along with frequently used phrases, to create the headline. It also automatically selects the page your ad will click through to.  

You get to manually input the ad description, but that’s about it. 

So at the end of the day, you won’t know what the final ad will look like. 

Why Dynamic Search Ads? 

If that sounds scary to you, here are three reasons why DSAs are worth the bother and anxiety:

1. Regular keyword targeted search ads have shortcomings. 

In some industries, the costs of keywords are sky high—so you HAVE to find another way to reach your target audience.

Note: Some of these shortcomings can be mitigated. Learn more in this article. (It’s two years old but most of it still applies.)

2. DSAs may capture traffic your keyword targeted search campaigns miss. 

Even if your search campaigns are performing well, you may be missing out on some traffic. DSAs might capture that traffic.

3. DSAs may perform better than regular search campaigns.

Even if your regular search campaigns are performing well (and especially if they’re not), you may find that DSAs perform better. 

Let’s look at an example. 

This spreadsheet is from one of our B2B clients that sells heavy equipment:

As you can see, DSAs are performing better than this client’s keyword search campaign. 

DSAs converted three times, while the search campaign converted only once during this period. 

Additionally, the DSAs’ average CPC is lower than the search campaign. CPC was $0.74 for the DSA campaign and $2.83 for the search campaign. That’s a big difference!

With these kinds of results, DSAs are hard to say no to. 

Set yourself up for success 

That doesn’t mean you have to close your eyes, dive into DSAs, and hope for the best. You can still set yourself up for success in three important ways: 

  1. Organize your website
  2. Optimize your website 
  3. Double check for typos 

Organize your website

As mentioned, Google uses your website to create Dynamic Search Ads, so your site needs to be well organized. If it’s challenging to navigate, your ads won’t perform as well—and you may end up with some weird ads. 

Optimize your website 

Similarly, your website should be SEO optimized with good, descriptive content. If it’s not, Google will again struggle to create good ads for you.

Navah Hopkins makes this point expertly in Search Engine Journal when she writes: 

“If the ad algorithm is able to correctly comprehend the content, you know you’ve done a good job SEOing the site.

If it struggles to come up with the right categories, you might need to adjust your tagging and site structure.”

Double check for typos

It’s also important to double check that your content (especially your HTML page titles) don’t contain typos. If you do, those typos will show up in your ads.

Claw back some control

Just because you don’t have total control of DSAs, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any. 

Two ways to claw back some of that control are 1) URL targeting and 2) negative keywords. 

URL targeting

You can use URL targeting to match people’s searches on Google with specific pages on your site. 

For example, you can use a “URL contains” qualifier to target pages with URLs that contain a certain piece of text and a “URL equals” qualifier to target specific URLs.

So, if you want your DSA to drive people to the shoes product page (and not your jackets product page) you can use URL targeting to do it. 

Alternatively, you might opt to use a page feed if your website is large. 

Negative keywords

Negative keywords are another useful tool for DSAs. 

Much like using negative keywords in search campaigns, you can use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant terms. In addition, you can exclude certain URLs, such as thank you pages and blog pages. 

Dynamic Search Ads Don’t Have to be Scary

Not having end-to-end control of your ads can be scary—but it doesn’t have to be. 

By setting yourself up for success, and clawing back control where you can, you can mitigate the fear and anxiety. 

And those uncomfortable feelings will dissipate even more once you start getting great results.