How to Create Dynamic Search Ads: a Full Guide

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I’ve heard lots of things about AdWords Dynamic Search Ads. Some people say such ads are just a waste of time and never work, others claim that DSAs can tremendously improve an account performance. What’s interesting here: both of them are right.

If you ask me, I’d say that I absolutely love Dynamic Search Ads! They can make your AdWords account more complete. I achieved great results with my clients using DSAs, so in this post I’m going to share some love. And tips, of course.

TL;DR: Sorry, you’ll still have to read the post if you want to benefit from creating Dynamic Search Ads. For your convenience, here is a table of contents:

What are Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads (aka DSAs) are automatic ads based on your website content: they match people queries with the text on your pages.

In SERPs, dynamic search ads look exactly like traditional ads. The main difference is that the former are generated automatically (well, most parts of them).

Why Use Dynamic Search Ads

  • To capture incremental traffic for searches not covered or partially covered by your traditional search campaigns.
  • To keep up with constant changes on your website (e.g. new products appear on a regular basis).
  • To bid on products with low search volume keywords (firstly, you save time as you don’t need to create separate ad groups/campaigns for them; secondly, your ads are shown to people if they search for such products. It’s a win-win).
  • Find new keywords opportunities in the search terms of DSAs.

Think about simple search ads (in contrast to dynamic search ads) as a spongy substance: if for some reason a relevant query is not captured by them, your ad will not be shown to a potential customer. Here Dynamic Search Ads come: they fill in the gaps and thus maximize your presence in paid results. To sum it up:

Dynamic Search Ads can help attract more clicks and conversions in addition to traditional search ads.

How to set up Dynamic Search Ads

That’s easy, just follow these steps:

  1. Click the ‘+’ button to add a new campaign
  2. Choose Search Network type and select your goal
  3. Choose all settings according to your needs on the ‘Settings’ step
  4. Scroll down to the ‘Dynamic Search Ads’ option and expand it
  5. Enable ‘Dynamic Search Ads’, enter your domain and select the language you’re going to use
  6. Select a targeting source:
  • Use Google’s index of my website
  • Use URLs from my page feed only
  • Use URLs from both Google’s index of my website and my page feed

Dynamic Search Ads Options

There is no recommended option; your choice will depend on your needs. From my experience, there is no point in going with the feed if your website is small or medium as your DSA campaign may end up with 0 impressions and clicks. It happened to me once, and after that, I changed the targeting source to ‘Use Google’s index of my website’. It worked.

But hold on, I’ll give you more details on that!

Use Google’s index of my website

This means that all your store pages indexed by Google can be shown in your dynamic ads.

This will be a good option for small and medium eCommerce websites with a decent site structure and good, SEO optimized content, so it will be easy for Google to choose most relevant pages to show in your dynamic ads.

Good news is that you will still have lots of flexibility with this option using negative ad targets (read on, more about it in a few minutes).

Use URLs from my page feed only

This variant may be more beneficial for big websites as you have more control over the URLs you want to use for dynamic ads. However, you are not flexible in this case: when a new product appears on your website, it needs to be added to the feed (it can be automated though).

The best part of such feeds is custom labels that can be used to create more targeted ad groups. These can be product categories, types, colours, etc. You just need to include them in your feed.

Use URLs from both Google’s index of my website and my page feed

As seen from the name, this is a hybrid version of the first and second options.

For those of you who want to go for a feed, the next section is a must-read.

How to Create a Pages Feed for Dynamic Search Ads

First of all, you will need to come up with a structure of your website and labels you are going to use. This will help you to achieve granular and most effective targeting in the future.

Don’t confuse Google Merchant product feeds used for dynamic remarketing and Google Shopping ads with a Pages Feed for dynamic search ads. They have different formats and serve different purposes.

See an example of a product feed for dynamic search ads:

Google Dynamic Search Ads Feed Eexample

Upload a template and customize it for your website.

As you can see, you can add and combine different custom labels. Here are some ideas for custom labels:

  • Page type
  • Reviews
  • Availability
  • Category
  • Price range, etc.

Upload Your Feed

Once your feed is ready, it’s time to add it to your Google Account!

  1. Click the spanner icon in the top right corner
  2. Choose Business Data (for old AdWords interface – go to Shared Library -> Business Data).

Add Feed for Dynamic Search Ads

  1. Click the Plus sign and choose Page Feed from the drop-down
  2. Give your feed a name and choose a file to upload
  3. Hit the Preview button and see if your feed is eligible

Google Dynamic Search Ads Feed Preview

  1. If no errors found, choose ‘Apply’
  2. Viola! Your feed is uploaded. Once it’s reviewed, it will be ready for dynamic search ads.

Make sure to save your feed in CSV, not any other format. If after uploading the feed to AdWords you get this error “One or more of your columns doesn’t work with your data set or feed”, check time and date settings on your computer, they should match your country. I had this error and it cost me some time and nerves to figure out how to solve it. I’m sharing this with you for free. 

Set up Groups with Dynamic Ad Targets

Dynamic ad targets are set on an ad group level. They basically show which pages of your website or feed you want to target by this ad group (who would’ve thought!).

You are flexible here and can choose one of the three options Google suggests.

Dynamic Ad Targets setup

Don’t use too narrow targets (i.e. targeting only 2 pages is not enough) as you may stuck at zero impressions. Nobody likes zero impressions. 

So using more general targets is preferable for Dynamic Search Ads. Even if you go for the ‘All Website” option, you will be able to add negative ad targets later to make sure that out of stock items, blog pages or any other irrelevant URLs will not be part of your dynamic search campaign.

This can be done on an ad group level: Dynamic ad targets -> Negative Dynamic Ad Targets

Negative Dynamic Ad Targets

Create Your Dynamic Search Ad

For a dynamic ad, you will need to write only a description which currently consists of 80 characters, other parts of the ad will be generated automatically. Make sure to write a general description which is relevant to all products that are targeted by the ad group.

Create Dynamic Search Ad

Additional Ideas

The good news is that now you know how to create Dynamic Search Ads or you’ve already created them. The bad news – you still need to do some more things. But isn’t it thrilling?

Add Ad Extensions

Remember, I wrote at the beginning that DSAs look exactly the same as traditional search ads in the SERPs? I’m not joking, so show some respect and sprinkle your dynamic search ads with ad extensions: sitelinks, callouts, structured snippets, call, price… whatever is relevant for the product you are advertising.

Don’t Forget About Sculpting

Negative keywords are very (read this as veeeeeeeeeeeery) important for such dynamic campaigns. Stay focused, nobody’s gonna waste valuable budget!

So make sure to add all general negative keywords from your account as well as some more specific terms. Sometimes it may make sense to also add your keywords targeted by traditional search campaigns as exact negative.

And constantly monitor search terms for your dynamic search campaign as you never know which ‘interesting’ terms can come up.


RLSA stand for Remarketing Lists for Search Ads. A DSAs campaign is compatible with RLSA, so you can set up bid adjustments for, say, your site visitors, or cart abandoners, or whatever-audience-you-think-will-work.

Your Turn

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what Dynamic Search Ads are, how to create and maintain them. Your thoughts are more than welcome, so please share them in the comments. And share the post if you like it, let’s spread the knowledge!


3 thoughts on “How to Create Dynamic Search Ads: a Full Guide

  1. Nice articel. Just wanted to ask these dynamics ad are those search ads that are seen in many websites not even related to search?

  2. Great article. Thi “One or more of your columns doesn’t work with your data set or feed” did it for me. Thank you!

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