Responsive Search Ads: Actionable Tips and Tricks for Testing Paid Search

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In the early stages of digital marketing, if you wanted to find out if your ad copy is effective, you had to manually run A/B tests.

[Free Takeaway Included – Affinity Audience Segments in Google Ads]

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Source - Google

Paid search or Pay-per-click (PPC) is a key component of digital marketing. While it can drive significant revenue, it’s also one of the most expensive ongoing costs in paid marketing. 

On average, the PPC cost for SMEs ranges between $108,000 to 120,000 per year. 

Therefore, it’s imperative that you test your paid search ads to ensure that you aren’t letting conversions slip through the cracks and getting the best bang for your bucks. 

But too often, marketers may overlook the important aspect of testing and perfecting the ad copy at an individual level. 

And, we can’t really blame them because testing ad copy at an individual level is downright cumbersome.

However, without testing how can you be sure that your ad copy is set up for success? 

From Manual to Automated Testing – Testing Ads is Key for Success 

In the early stages of digital marketing, if you wanted to find out if your ad copy is effective, you had to manually run A/B tests. 

Imagine creating multiple variants of the same ad copy - including headlines, descriptions, CTAs placements, etc. and running multiple tests – this process could take days or months to show real results. 

However A/B testing of your paid search ads can improve ad strength, quality, effectiveness and eventual click-through rate. 

This is where Google’s Responsive Search Ads feature can come to your rescue to automate the entire testing process and use Google’s high-quality algorithms to create the best-performing ads tailored at the individual level. 

What are Responsive Search Ads and How to Utilize them for Testing in Paid Search? 

“Responsive Search Ads or RSAs allow you to enter multiple unique headlines and descriptions, which Google Ads use to assemble various combinations of ad units, test and serve the best performing ad variation to searchers”. 

The best part is that RSA takes up most of the heavy work of ad testing for you. All you need to do is to come up with variations of headlines and descriptions while the algorithms take care of the rest to run multi-variate testing and identify the best ad combinations. 

This means no more digging through stacks of variants, comparing different ad sets and leaving your ROI up to chance. 

The RSA format allows up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. The algorithms then run in the backend to combine thousands (almost 43,680) of potential variations into an Expanded Text Ad format that is then tailored and displayed to each user’s search query. 

The ultimate goal of RSA is to match customer intent with your ad copy and expand campaign reach to improve performance. 

Some of the benefits of using RSA include: 

  • Save time lost in operational aspects of manual testing and setting up of ad copy.
  • Google goes a step further to conduct automated multi-variate testing of several ad variants to arrive at the best combination.
  • Ads are tailored to match the search intent of the user and are highly relevant to the user’s needs.
  • Allows greater flexibility of ads as they are adapted in real-time according to device widths and format as well.
  • Better results in terms of reach, clicks and conversions as dynamic ad combinations are generated to match with search queries. 

Paid Search Campaigns using RSA: Actionable Tips and Tricks 

Although RSAs are automated, you still need to provide inputs in the form of the right headlines and descriptions for your ad copy. Here are a few tips for creating a compelling paid search ad copy using RSA: 

  1. Use Catchy and Varied Headlines 

Ensure that no two headlines are alike or contain similar wording. Use the ad strength meter to gauge the performance of the headlines. You can also re-use or rewrite headlines from previous ads where they have performed well. 

  1. Use Keywords Wisely 

Thorough keyword research is the foundation for paid search campaign management. Keep your keywords in mind when writing headlines so that you can write according to the chosen keywords. You can also use Google’s Dynamic Keyword Insertion or DKI which allows specific targeting by tailoring keywords according to user search preferences. For instance, if your keyword is “couches” with DKI you can even show your ads to users searching for “leather couches”, “best couches”, etc. 

  1. Pin Headlines only if Necessary 

RSAs also allow you to pin headlines and descriptions to feature only specific content in your ads. But use the pin feature only if you want to display important and influential content and have a fair idea of what works. 

  1. Test one RSA for each Customer Segment 

Testing more than one RSA for each audience group can lead to confusion and complexity leaving you with a swathe of inconsistent and incomplete data. Don’t spread yourself too thin and ensure to target your RSA for a specific audience segment to measure and act upon the results of your campaign. 

Here’s a free download of 42 affinity audience segments to maximize the targeting efficiency of your PPC campaigns. 

Testing paid search ads is of immense importance to get started on the right foot and generate the results you desire. If you are running paid search campaigns without testing your ads first, you need a digital marketing transformation.

While you may be having challenges in running manual A/B tests, take advantage of Google’s RSA to test your paid search ads and give your ads the best shot to generate success. Talk to a digital marketing services expert to know how can you leverage RSAs for creation, testing and targeting optimization of paid search ads. 

What kind of results have you seen with responsive search ads? Drop your comments below or write to us at