Paid Search

PPC Dynamic Search Ad tips

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 by James Faulkner

PPCDynamic Search Ads (DSAs) caused quite a stir when they were first beta-released by Google AdWords, with many conflicting experiences about their effectiveness and ease of implementation.

We’ve spent many an hour discussing their benefits, pitfalls and complications – I want to share our thoughts about their suitability and performance.

Dynamic Search Ad compatibility

It’s clear that Dynamic Search Ads are not suitable for everyone. Many sites are simply too small or lack sufficient content to make them effective. In any case, if your site is small there really isn’t any requirement to use DSAs. It’s a straightforward task to identify your keyword targets. Bear in mind Google’s organic search index of your site is used to match content / pages to display a paid ad. If Google can’t crawl your site, then DSAs won’t function.

Auto target options

Now let’s look at the auto targeting options available – there’s far more available than simply targeting All Webpages. That’s not to say this technique isn’t effective – its works too.

1 – All Webpages:
All pages in the defined website domain; if you run a sub domain you can set this up, should you wish.

2 – Categories:
Ten auto-generated themes that Google has identified in your website; you can create your own categories – but be warned these are unlikely to be as effective, as Google needs to ‘understand’ it! (Select CATEGORY)

3 – URLs:
Perhaps the most useful and successful method; target specific URL sets. Great examples of this approach being individual product categories, product pages or individual brands. If you aren’t running an ecommerce store, you can reach specific service pages and not others. (Select URLs)

4 – Page Titles:
Another highly customisable means of controlling Dynamic Search Ads; be selective and carefully consider Page Title content you’d like to reach. (Select PAGE_TITLE)

5 – Page Content:
Highly useful and flexible; you are in control of which page content you’d like to display Ads for. Out of Stock products that aren’t available for purchase are a perfect example of content you’d likely not want to advertise. (Select PAGE_CONTENT)

Another handy Dynamic Search Ad top tip is that these targets can be combined!
Add up to three auto targets and they’ll work together to refine their reach.

Keyword match type cannibalisation

It’s important to remember that Dynamic Search Ads won’t compete with any EXACT match terms already in your account.

They can however cannibalise traffic from any BROAD or PHRASE match terms.

This is especially important as you could easily run into problems and steer traffic away from your existing ‘manual’ paid search campaigns.


My final tip is to use Exclusions. That’s right! You can also exclude to refine and improve traffic quality and relevance. You’re spoilt for choice here with the Dynamic Search Ad Exclusions methods:

– Use negative keywords as normal; even though DSA’s don’t use match based on keyword, they will obey negative keywords. This means you can apply any standard common account negatives.

– Or exclude base the same targets of Category, URL, page title, or page content.

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About the author

James Faulkner

James Faulkner

James manages the Paid Search Team at Vertical Leap. He loves the data driven nature of PPC and is passionate about Increasing Return on Ad Spend. His wealth of experience and skills enables him to devise unique strategies across paid search platforms such as Google Adwords, LinkedIn Ads, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads. He also loves his motorbike and his tent. Follow me on Google+