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Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR:
The What, When, Why, & How

by Sean Martin under PPC

It’s been some time since Dynamic Search Ads made their appearance on the digital advertising scene. Originally released back in 2011, they’ve since gone through some serious upgrades. But, regardless of how advanced and automated they become, Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) still function on the same core principle as they always have:


“To better target your ads to your ideal customers/clients by using Google’s organic crawling technology to automatically target more relevant search queries.”


The better you can align your ads to the actual search queries users are typing into the search engine the better. Why? Because search queries, as opposed to keywords, represent the actual intent of the user’s search.

So, if you identify which search queries to target, as opposed to relying on generalized keywords, you’ll have a much better chance and reaching the right audience with your ads. And the more successful you are at targeting your ads towards the right users, the higher Click-Through-Rate (CTR) you should see.

 

keyword:search term ratio example

Here’s a basic example of the keyword:search query discrepancy – image source


 

Ipso facto, using Dynamic Search Ads should theoretically help you better target your ads to your ideal users. This, in turn, should increase the relevancy of your ads, and thus their CTR. Increasing the CTR of your ads is known to increase the quality score of your ads, which improves your ads ranking as well.

All of this leads to better ad placements and more qualified traffic clicking through your ads. Now it’s just a matter of if your landing pages can convert.

So, I think it’s safe to say I’ve established the value of reading up on the why DSAs are so powerful, am I right?

Let’s get started then.

 

What Are Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)

At this point, you still may be wondering what exactly Dynamic Search Ads are. The short definition is that DSAs use Google’s advanced crawling technology to comb your website for the most relevant keywords to target and automatically use them in your ad targeting and ad copy.

Google’s definition is quite helpful here. They say that DSAs are:


“Ideal for advertisers with a well-developed website or a large inventory, Dynamic Search Ads use your website to target your ads and can help fill in the gaps of your keywords-based campaigns.”


This doesn’t mean that DSAs are reserved only for eCommerce sites that have a large inventory for Google to index. You can use Dynamic Search Ads very effectively, so long as you know what services to emphasize and what pages to direct your traffic towards.

For example, if you are a PPC agency running Dynamic Search Ads, and a user searches “PPC agency pricing models,” it’s possible that Google might show your DSA to that user and send them to a blog post you’ve published titled “Different PPC Agencies Pricing Models.”

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR Blog Image

Blog posts are nice, but they usually aren’t high converting pages… – image source


 

Or, if you’ve specified your DSA campaign to only send traffic to key service pages, it could send that user directly to your pricing page.

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR KB Service Page

As you can see, very different customer experiences come with each page
image source


 

Dynamic Search Ads are all about that keyword: dynamic. The key to their success is all about how well you can use them to cater to your ideal customers. And, on top of that, how strategically you can manage the traffic that your DSAs generate.

 

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How Dynamic Search Ads Work

As opposed to classic PPC campaign ran on the search network, DSA campaigns function on the content on your site. Google’s intention with DSAs is to consolidate any gaps they may have missed. And by gaps, I mean holes in between the buyer’s journey from your user’s original search to their successful landing on your relevant landing page.

Dynamic Search Ads work by combing your website for actual content and relevant keywords to serve users on. As opposed to relying solely on keywords, which if you’ve read our Iceberg Effect post you’d know is a big mistake, DSAs auto-fill your ads with relevant ad copy and show them to relevant search queries based on what Google finds when it crawls your site.

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR HeroConf

Here’s an example DSA for you to check out – image source


 

However, because Google is automatically creating and showing these ads, you are giving up some control. For instance, you don’t have the ability to write your own headlines when running Dynamic Search Ad campaigns.

This can make split testing difficult, if not entirely impossible. So, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re giving up a certain level of autonomy for a greater level of relevance and engagement with your audience.

 

How To Setup Dynamic Search Ads

To set up your DSA campaign, first, log in to your Google Ads account and navigate to the “Campaigns” Tab. Make sure you specify that you’re running the campaign in “Search Network Only.”

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR Only Search Network

Go ahead and unclick the Display Network checkmark.


 

Then select “Dynamic Search Ads,” and you’re free to start creating your ad groups.

Google suggests that you use your DSAs to target by category. To do so, select the “Target Categories Recommended For Your Website” option and add any categories you’d like to target to your “Selected Dynamic Ad Targets” column.

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR Categories

Google will give you suggestions along with search volume.


 

You have the option of targeting all pages on your domain (thus allowing Google to also crawl your entire site for relevant content to show on your ads).

However, this is an extremely broad net to cast and goes directly against the golden tenant of PPC landing page CRO: using dedicated landing pages for dedicated traffic and search intent(s).

On the flip side of the coin, you have the option to target only certain pages within your domain with your DSAs. So, for example, if you have certain key service pages or pricing pages that you want to boost traffic to, this is a great way to optimize two birds with one stone.

To target specific pages within your site go to Advanced Settings and select “Target Specific Web pages.”

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR Webpages

You can enter up to 20 Webpages.


 

You can then create one or more rules to specify what types of pages within your domain towards which you want to send potential ad traffic. Below are a few examples of solid rules to implement:


  • “If URL Contains”
  • “Page Content”
  • “Page Title”
  • etc…


Lastly, you can now set the description for your ad. Keep in mind however that your Dynamic Search Ad campaign will automatically generate your headline, display URL, and final URL.

You can also set up your DSA tracking here by adding your tracking information to “Tracking template” field under URL options.

Now just save your ad group and you’re ready to start running your Dynamic Search Ad and to start adding more ads to increase your reach and engagement even more.

 

When To Use Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads aren’t for every type of campaign. Yes, they can be used across the board in terms of search network advertising. But that doesn’t mean that you should start flooding your campaigns and ad groups with new and over-indulgent DSAs.

 

Dynamic Search Ads Ron Burgundy Overwhelmed

Try not to make the users who view your ad feel like this… – image source


 

There’s a reason that DSAs are only for the search network. That’s because they are meant to capitalize on the high conversion intent that’s associated with the GSN.

 

Capitalizing On High Intent From Search

The Google Search Network (GSN), as opposed to other channels such as social media, the Google Display Network (GDN), or other email remarketing campaigns, has a very high level of conversion intent.

As opposed to other channels, where users are often shown ads related to their general search history and behavior, the GSN is far more reliant on their specific intent.

What does all this fancy jargon mean? It means that the traffic coming through the search network is much “hotter” than any other channels.

AKA: It’s safer to assume that a user searching for your keywords (products/services) via the search network is looking to convert on some level.

 

dynamic search ads adespresso search terms or keywords

Which is why identifying the difference between the two is so vitally important – image source


 

Dynamic Search Ads are meant to capitalize on this higher intent by taking your ads that last little bit from being relevant to being hyper-targeted. And the more targeted and relevant your ads, the better you can reach your potential clientele.

This is why Google rewards you the closer you can match your keywords to actual user search queries. This logic, by the way, is the same logic behind DSAs — the better you can cater your ads to exactly what users are searching, the more satisfied they will be. This means more clicks for you (and more traffic through your ads) which also means more money for Google.

Everybody wins.

 

Customizing Your Ads To User Search Queries

If you haven’t heard the news by now, you should read up on something that we call the Iceberg Effect here at KlientBoost. The Iceberg Effect describes the distinction between targeting keywords in the GSN versus targeting actual user search queries. Below are the definitions of the two to help distinguish.

Keywords, according to SEJ, are:


“A keyword is the exact term that you are targeting in a paid search or organic search campaign. If you want to win a PPC bid for the term “house paint”, then “house paint” is your keyword.”


Where Search Queries, are:


“Queries are what the user types in. They are searching for something online, and they type stuff in Google, speak something to Siri, or otherwise perform a search. It’s called a query.”


The Iceberg Effect outlines how, in most cases, when you’re targeting Keywords you are actually dealing with a large array of search queries. And this is a very bad thing.

 

dynamic search ads search terms report example of unbalanced ratio

Just look at all these potential searchers, all irrelevant to your ads – image source


 

Let me be very clear: This is nothing like “efficiently” casting a wide net. It’s the opposite.

In the PPC world, when you’re paying for every click on your ad, you want to make sure that every click is generated by an interested user who finds your ad relevant and interesting — someone looking to convert.

The logic behind this is simple: if you’re generating a massive amount of paid traffic that is all coming from irrelevant clicks, you’ll be paying for every click without generating any revenue.

That’s some math that nobody wants to do.

A Keyword:Search Query Ratio that is severely out of balance is akin to a massive iceberg — as you can see in the graphic below.

 

dynamic search ads full blown ice berg effect

That’s a brutal ratio, eh? – image source


 

The more you can pare down your disparate icebergs into smaller, more targeted icebergs (with Keyword:Search Query Ratios closer to 1:1), the better.

Here at KlientBoost, we use the SKAGs technique to create a perfect 1:1 Ratio and guarantee targeted, relevant ads.

But for brands looking to optimize on the go and gain some of the same perks of SKAGs without the intensive setup, Dynamic Search Ads offer a very similar solution.

Dynamic Search Ads have the unique ability to adjust the actual search terms their shown for as well as the copy within the ad. Essentially, Google has created an ad function in Google Ads that is attempting to automate the logic behind SKAGs.

DSAs are constantly trying to improve your Keyword:Search Query Ratio and keep it as close to 1:1 at all times.

 

Increasing CTR (And Therefore Quality Score)

If you’re looking for reasons to use Dynamic Search Ads and the above two instances haven’t convinced you, maybe this will.

Improving your ad relevance with DSAs that have a strong Keyword:Search Query Ratio can significantly boost your CTR (Click Through Rate).

 

dynamic search ads full blown ice berg effect

The more targeted your keyword (closer to the search term) the higher the CTR should be – image source


 

That’s right. Using DSAs has been shown to improve your CTR by improving the relevancy of your ads — both their ad copy and when they are shown. And what’s even better than an improved CTR? The answer: an improved Quality Score because of boosts in relevancy and CTR.

Now, Quality Score in and of itself is a bit of a black box in the PPC world. But we do know that improving your Quality Score helps your ads perform better by improving the average placements of your ads in the GSN and often times lowering your CPC (Cost Per Click).

All of these stem from increasing your CTR while maintaining a strong landing page experience. Which, if you’re using your DSAs correctly and sending their traffic to the correct, relevant pages in your domain, you should manage easily.

As opposed to randomly increasing your CTR with irrelevant traffic that could devastate your ad spend and PPC budget, DSA do the opposite.

Dynamic Search Ads improve your CTR with even more relevant traffic — then it’s just a matter of you converting.

 

A Few DSA Best Practices

Now, we’ve discussed the value of using Dynamic Search Ads and the different instances in which you should use them. We’ve even discussed their basic functionality and what problems Google is attempting to solve with DSAs.

But now it’s time for the real fun stuff — what are some DSA best practices that you can employ in your own campaigns? Well, below are 5 Dynamic Search Ad best practices to help you optimize your already hyper-relevant ads.

Eat em’ up!

 

1) Use Supplemental/Informative Content

When creating your ad, you should always keep “ad empathy” in the back of your mind. Putting yourself in the shoes of the viewer will be the best way to stand out from competing ads.

One such aspect to appealing to the viewer is offering intriguing information about your company, without mind-numbing explanations. In choosing which information to include, it should stir some curiosity, touch base on their needs, or highlight something unique. Showcasing your company’s amazing Google rating, for example, is both unique, trustworthy, and leaves the consumers asking “why?”

Don’t worry about finding the unicorn of sentences that’ll consist of all the points, that’s what A/B testing is for.

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR Unicorn

The unicorn of sentences exists somewhere in the universe.  – image source


 

Remember that you’re choosing text to help increase your CTR, so choosing text with an empathetic mindset will help nudge the viewer into clicking on the ad.

Try asking yourself these three questions:


  • “What would I want to know?”
  • “What’s so special about this company?”
  • “Why are they better that other companies?”


Keep in mind that all the information should be in the description section since the headlines are auto-filled.

 

2) Related Services/Products

Obviously, you’ll want to include the product and service at hand. Most likely the search query will have already consisted of the product or service, thus inserting the product/service into the ads description. But there may be a few instances where you could clarify and take a step further.

For example, more general search queries that include words like, “services,” “products,” “items,” etc. could be further explained. If you’re a company that offers steam cleaning, you might be bidding on a keyword like “steam cleaning services.”

In your description, you may want to clarify and include some key services like, “carpet cleaning,” “tile and grout cleaning,” and “drapery cleaning.” You’d most likely want to try and include these in an structured snippet extension, but hey, it’s always worth testing.

 

3) Focused Call-To-Action

It’s no surprise that a high performing landing page has a clear focused call-to-action (CTA). Focusing on the value the visitor will receive can be very enticing to visitors and could very well lead to great conversion rates.

This idea can also be translated into the DSA. The ad should also contain the very same CTA you’d find on the landing page so the visitor recognizes the consistency. Offering value or an incentive could be the deciding factor as to whether someone clinks on your ad or not.


  • “Family Owned Since 1976”
  • “Get Your Free Custom Quote Today”


Which CTA would you say sounds more enticing? The second phrase gives the viewer that added value that the first phrase lacks.

If we’re speaking in terms of ad empathy, the free consultation shows that the company is not trying to push a sale onto them. There’s nothing worse that a car salesman pushing a sale with excessive sales jargon. Instead, they’re willing to win them over with their time and expertise.

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR Car Salesman Buzzword Jargon

Buzzword nonsense, we’ve all seen it before. – image source


 

Again, keep in mind that with DSAs, the only part of the ad that you can manage yourself is the description in the add. So if you’re looking to control your CTA testing within a DSA campaign, you’ll have to keep your CTAs in your description.

 

4) Be Wary Of Over-Using Buzzwords/Jargon

We’re all aware of the popular “buzzword” phenomenon in the marketing industry. Businesses marketers have been sprinkling them over their copy for years. As a result, we’re left with words that initially seem like a good idea, but actually, have run themselves into a black hole of desensitized marketing techniques.

Today, consumers can tune out marketing chatter. They can recognize when a word or phrase has little to no meaning or if it’s been overused to death. The ad’s content can quickly go from trying to sound unique, to sounding generic and uninspiring.

Here’s another example.

  • “Get A Free Consultation”
  • “Get Your Free Custom Quote Today”


Both phrases have essentially the same message, but a free consultation has been overused and effectiveness might not have the same impact.

Try looking at these phrase:

  • “Increasing Customer Satisfaction”
  • “Innovative Solutions”


The first buzzword being “customer satisfaction,” this phrase holds little to no value when customer happiness is essential for any business. After all, there isn’t a business in existence that doesn’t value happy customers.

The second buzzword “innovative,” holds no value. What does that mean to the consumer? Without context or evidence, it’s nothing more than business jargon.

Insead, try simple meaningful word choice and alternative copy. This will attract attention for the right reasons.

 

5) Filter Which Pages Use DSA On Your Site

If you have a variety of landing pages or website pages and are looking to implement DSAs, be sure you choose  “juicy” pages.

Well how do you know what is and isn’t a juicy page?

You’re looking for specific pages that contain an array of different types of copy that Google sees demand for. Google will use web crawling algorithms to scan your page and choose which search queries to show ads for.

Well if Google scans a return policy page, they might not find the best search queries with text that describes the product or services needed. A page that’s considered juicy will contain informative description copy.

 In this case, you’ll want to use the “Target Specific Web pages” technique mentioned earlier. This way you’ll be able to control which pages the DSA ads can crawl that’ll lead to the best results.

 

Taking It One Step Further With SKAGs

Simply, the purpose of DSA is to be more relevant to search terms, therefore increasing your quality score and possibly that chance of a click through.  Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS) can serve the very same function with the added aspect of efficiency.

Most marketers make the mistake of thinking that a DSAs are the best way to ensure the ads stay as efficient as possible. And although they do help with relevance, you’ll have to dig deeper into the structure of the campaigns to see that it might prove otherwise.

Because DSAs autofill, you’ll find that the most marketers will see this as a way to have a few different ads amongst a bunch of different ad groups. There aren’t any designated ads for distinct keywords and ad groups.

What they unknowingly don’t realize is that the lack of structure can make it hard to optimize on match types and ad groups that work for the account.  You’re grouping in a few ads with too many different variables. Segmenting out what works can prove difficult.

SKAGS will structure your ad groups, keywords, and ads so that you can always see what’s working and optimize accordingly.

It’s pretty self-explanatory, one ad group with just one keyword. Each keyword has three match types with at least two ads with the keyword in the headline and display URLs.

 

Using Dynamic Search Ads For Higher CTR SKAGS

You’ll notice there are still the elements that contribute to a good quality score in this ad. – image source


 

What this does is allow for a streamlined structure that will both keep your ads relevant with easy to determine results for optimization.

It’d be difficult to argue that DSA would serve to prove more efficient when you can’t segment out the high performers.

Not to mention the obvious opportunities of A/B testing.

Here at Klientboost, managers will use DSA as a keyword research and extraction tool. The crawled pages will showcase search queries that actually convert with the DSA ad. If we notice that one such search query contributes to multiple conversions, we’ll extract that search term and add them to our regular (non-DSA) search network campaign using the SKAKs method.

 

So, Why Bother With Dynamic Search Ads

So, after a long 3000-word journey — one in which we literally just bashed DSAs for being the La-Z-Boy equivalent of our own SKAGs technique — you’re probably wondering what the point of using DSAs even is.

Fair.

The truth is that, even if we may prefer our SKAGs technique above all else, we recognize that not every marketer has the time and resources to create such intricate campaigns to manage and optimize.

So, if you’re looking to grow your campaigns’ success with the same logic as SKAGs, but don’t quite have the time or the expertise (yet), then Dynamic Search Ads are your perfect band-aid.

Just remember, band-aid solutions only work for so long, so give us a call for some real help 😉.

Klientboost Blog Author Sean Thomas Martin Junior III

Sean Thomas Martin Junior III

Director of Content

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