Jason Martin - Paid Search & Training Specialist

Jason Martin

7th February 2019

SilverDisc's Guide To Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads have been available in Google Ads for years, but renewed emphasis in Google’s algorithms and smart bidding strategies has brought them back to the forefront of PPC strategies. To quote Google, Dynamic Search Ads are the easiest way to find customers searching on Google for precisely what you offer. In this blog, I’ll talk you through the basics of Dynamic Search Ads, where and where not to use them, as well as potential pitfalls to avoid.

Dynamic Search Ads Basics

Traditionally, search campaigns would use keywords as their form of targeting. Advertisers would add a keyword to their PPC accounts which, when triggering a search query, would allow for an ad to show. Dynamic Search Ads are slightly different.

As part of the campaign setup, advertisers enter their website domain – the content of which will form the basis of campaign targeting. More recently, Dynamic Search Ads can be created as an ad group within an existing Search campaign, allowing advertisers to set the domain details at ad group level. This does away with the need for specific Dynamic Search Ad campaigns.

The full array of targeting options include:

  • Target categories recommended for your website – this scans your website and provides recommended categories based on your website structure and how your products are shown – e.g. office cleaning
  • Target all web pages – This scans all pages of our website for targeting, and would be good to use as a “catch all” option on a lower bid
  • Target specific web pages – This is where advertisers specify the URL/page options that they would like to use for the dynamic targeting – e.g. “url contains /office” or “page content contains “office cleaning”

When search queries on Google align with the content in your page categories, your ad will appear in search results using a mix of user-generated and dynamically-inserted content.

  • Headline – this is dynamically inserted and based on the search term used to trigger the ad
  • Description – this is created by the user and should push brand USPs and calls to action
  • Display URL – this is dynamically inserted based on the search query
  • Final URL – this is dynamically inserted based on the page content which has triggered the search term, and will serve as the landing page for the ad

Whilst keywords aren’t used as a form of targeting, negative keywords can still be used to improve the quality of traffic. In the early weeks, monitoring search term reports is crucial to stay on top of any problematic queries before they have a significant impact on spend. 

Additionally, if there are particular pages which are bringing in poor quality search terms, you can add negative dynamic ad targets. This works in the same way as adding the target pages to begin with, except it works as an exclusion method to prevent the pages from being considered in Google’s algorithms. Other reasons to use negative dynamic ad targets include low value or discontinued products for ecommerce accounts.

Who Should Use Dynamic Search Ads?

If you have a large website with many different pages, Dynamic Search Ads are a useful addition to your PPC campaigns. Google themselves suggest Dynamic Search Ads are most suited to “well-developed websites or large inventories”, which is especially important for online retailers whose website has a wide range of products.

In practical terms, it could take a long time to set up all the keywords for every product and maintaining this with new product additions to the website is also a time-consuming task. Set up Dynamic Search Ads and your website will be crawled regularly to find pages that match your set targeting, allowing for your ad to be triggered by new search terms without necessarily creating new ad groups and keywords in the short term.

Who Shouldn’t Use Dynamic Search Ads?

Google’s only recommendation is that you avoid using Dynamic Search Ads for websites with content that changes rapidly. Their example is if you have a website which has daily deals, this wouldn’t be best suited for Dynamic Search Ads. This would suggest that Google’s crawls may not be able to keep up with daily changes and the addition or removal of pages, and that Dynamic Search Ads need a stable website structure to work from.

Setting Up Your First Dynamic Search Ads Campaign

If you’re unsure where to start with Dynamic Search Ads, remember that Google and Bing both advocate starting with a broad reach and only drilling down into the specifics once you have performance data to back up your decisions.

To do this, you could create an ad group targeting all web pages, and setting an Enhanced CPC bid that is typically lower than your average CPC in other campaigns. You can treat this ad group as a “catch-all” approach, monitor the search terms closely and gauge performance after a few weeks to assess whether the approach is driving returns for your account.

Down the line, you can review Google and Bing’s suggested categories to break out into more specific ad groups and tailor ad descriptions accordingly.

Are Dynamic Search Ads Available On Bing Ads?

They are now! Dynamic Search Ads have only been a recent addition to Bing Ads, but you are able to create Dynamic Search Campaigns in the Bing Ads interface, as well as importing your existing campaign over from Google Ads.

Early experiences are that the detection of website categories isn’t as good as Google so far. You may be reliant on targeting all website pages or self-made targeting (e.g. “page title contains ___”) in the early stages but be sure to review this down the line, as it often takes a few weeks for the categories to be recognised by Bing.

As with Google Ads, our recommendations would be:

  • Give a Dynamic Search Campaign its own budget
  • Target all webpages initially
  • Set a low Enhanced CPC in the early stages
  • Monitor search terms regularly to add negative keywords – especially in the early weeks

What Dynamic Search Ads Considerations Should I Be Aware Of?

No Day 1 Volume

If you are seeing no traffic for your Dynamic Search campaigns in the first couple of days, don’t panic. It can take a few days for Google and Bing’s systems to crawl your website and begin aligning your pages with search terms. If you aren’t seeing any impressions after more than a week, review your bids and potentially raise them to rule out the possibility of not appearing in rankings for bidding reasons.

Competitor Brand Terms:

As the headlines are dynamically generated based on the search query used to trigger the ad, this can cause issues when users are specifying a brand in their search term. For example:

  1. Your brand “Clean Sweep” offers cleaning services on its website, with pages relating to office cleaners – this will be used as targeting criteria for any terms relating to office cleaners in Google searches
  2. A search term that triggers your ad is for “total office cleaners”, a competitor brand who also offer office cleaning services.
  3. Google has deemed this a relevant term, and will use the search phrase as the dynamically-generated headline in the ad
  4. The issue now is that your ad headline shows Total Office Cleaners, but when clicking through the user lands on Clean Sweep’s website
  5. This can deceive customers at best and lead to legal battles at worst. With that in mind, be sure to use plenty of brand term negative keywords when setting up your Dynamic Search Ads campaigns

Brand Traffic:

As Google scans your website, it may also bring in traffic for your own brand terms. If you are choosing not to bid on your brand at all due to a strong organic presence, or if you have a separate campaign for brand terms, we recommend adding your brand as a negative keyword in Dynamic Search Ads campaigns.


To summarise, Dynamic Search Ads are an excellent option for large websites offering a wide variety of products. With proper planning into negative keyword lists and targeting beforehand, DSA campaigns can help to create a relevant user experience and drive higher volumes of quality traffic to your website.

Here at SilverDisc, we’ve been running Dynamic Search Campaigns for years. If you want the hassle taken out of PPC account management, you’re welcome to give our friendly PPC specialists a call on 015316 316100 or contact us online today.

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