Search Ads Graphic With Robot

Google Responsive Ads – Everything You Need to Know

Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with over 90% of the market share. They’re also one of the world’s biggest companies, with the majority of their revenue coming from advertising – and they didn’t get there by standing still.

The search engine giants are constantly tweaking and adding to their platform to improve the user experience for both advertisers and consumers. Their latest addition – Responsive Search Ads.

In this post, we’ll explore what they are, how it all works and the best practice for advertisers.

Powered by machine learning

When creating responsive search ads, advertisers can enter up to 15 headlines and four 90-character descriptions for their ad. It’s then up to Google’s machine learning technology to find which combination of headlines and descriptions works best.

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In the past, advertisers would need to A/B test countless combinations with the smallest tweaks to find what they thought was the best option. Now, Google’s AI will test all the possible outcomes autonomously to save you hours, if not days.

They’ll also test all combinations against a wide range of search terms to find the best match. The result? An advert that adapts closely to what your customers are searching for, performs optimally and provides maximum returns for your campaign.

This will include at least two headlines and one description, so your advert will never be smaller than an expanded search ad. However, it won’t always feature the full three headlines and two descriptions, as responsive search ads will adapt to smaller screens or busier search engine results pages (SERPs), showing fewer components.

More options, more flexibility, more space

On the face of it, Google’s responsive search ads give more space to advertisers, with:

  • Up to three headlines instead of two
  • Up to two descriptions instead of one
  • Descriptions up to 90-characters instead of 80

That’s potentially almost double the advertising space, double the content and double the opportunity to showcase your brand to customers. No advertiser would say no to that, right? But, what’s truly impressive is how Google takes things one step further, and puts the ‘responsive’ in responsive search ads…

Making the most of responsive search ads

Although Google takes a lot of the hard work out of advertising with responsive search ads, there are some things you can do to improve the set-up of your ad.

Google Ad's Keyword Headlines Graphic

  • Headlines and descriptions

First of all, you don’t have to provide 15 headlines. Ads with more headlines to choose from will typically perform better, as Google will determine which work best. But there’s no point adding headlines just for the sake of it. They need to be relevant to your brand. Aim for 6-10 headlines to provide plenty of variety in the choices.

Similarly, the more descriptions you have, the better, as Google will find the best combination from the four you provide. Add at least 2 descriptions, and remember they have the potential to both show so keep them relevant.

It’s important to note that these headlines could appear in any order, so don’t write them with a particular sequence in mind. Essentially, make sure each headline and description make sense both individually and when combined with others.

  • Variety

That leads us seamlessly onto the next point. It’s important to make each headline and description different. First of all, because Google won’t show your responsive search ad if all the content is similar. The best thing about responsive search ads are they find what works best for you, so make sure you give them plenty to work with.

Change the message of each headline and description, highlight different qualities of your products or services and mix up the call to action.

  • Length

Remember, you don’t have to use all 90 characters either. Using headlines and descriptions with different lengths will add another variant to your adverts, so Google can find the best fit – short and snappy, packed with details, or a combination of the two?

Not only that, some shorter headlines and descriptions could help fit in a third headline or second description on smaller screens or busier SERPs.

  • Keywords

Make sure your top keywords or key phrases are included in at least two of your headlines. However, it’s also important not to include those keywords in the other headlines – at least 3 ideally. Why? Google is going to combine these headlines in your ad, and you don’t want them to be repetitive or appear to be focused on one feature alone.

  • Pinning

With responsive search ads, Google can test all your headlines and all your descriptions in every possible position of the ad, in every possible combination. That allows them to find the perfect message for different users, their search terms or keywords and which device they’re using.

It doesn’t mean you can’t guarantee that certain headlines or descriptions appear, however. In some ads, there may be key information you need to include, or product features you want to highlight.

Google allows you to pin chosen headlines or descriptions to specific positions in the ad. Alternatively, you can choose to always show that headline or description, but with no fixed position.

This is the recommended option, as it makes sure the key information is included while maintaining maximum flexibility for the AI to find the optimal setup. Try not to pin too much, as this takes away the main benefit of the responsive search ad altogether.

Try it out

Responsive Search Ads are currently in beta, meaning they’re not available across the board. At present, they can only be added to ad groups with existing text ads. If that applies to you, it’s well worth trying out the new options – and be sure to let us know how you get on!

If you’re looking for assistance with your PPC campaigns, Report Central provides specialist PPC management services. We go beyond just managing your PPC campaign, we live and breathe it to ensure you get the best return on investment. Contact us today to talk to a PPC expert.

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