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Dynamic Search Ads: How to make them work for lead gen

Published: May 30, 2017

Author: Alex Kent

By now, you have probably read about the benefits of dynamic search ads running alongside a comprehensive keyword-based approach. Dynamic search ads can play a powerful role in an account with thousands of products and content-rich sites. In this scenario, a well-structured DSA build can help fill keyword gaps for constantly changing product inventories and nuanced search terms that even the most robust keyword build could not provide coverage for.
This strategy for a flawless incorporation was explained about a year ago by Ryan Noonan here at 3Q. I highly recommend reading through his post if you have any fundamental questions about launching dynamic search ads.
But what if you don’t have thousands of products and inventory turnover? What if you rely on lead generation or form fills? Can dynamic search ads help drive incremental performance when lead-gen is the goal?
They absolutely can. Let’s talk about how.

DSA Structuring Recommendation

There are three main ways you can structure your DSA auto-targets. This is probably the biggest decision when breaking out DSAs. Google will crawl your site, but it’s up to you to determine how you want to use auto-targets to most effectively bring in relevant traffic.
For example, if you were a home security company looking to generate leads from home-owners interested in securing their home, you could choose to structure your DSA targets using:

  1. Google Recommended Categories
  2. URL Structure (ex: URL Contains: “home-security”)
  3. Site Content: using the actual source code to target pages that may have the word “alarm system” or “home automation”

This decision will be entirely based on your client, their needs, and website structure/content. Get a feel for the layout of the site, but take some time looking through the source code on your site to determine if there are patterns in the source-code that could make Site Content the best auto-target. If you are a little hesitant about Site Content, the safest bet would be to lean on Google Recommended Categories or URL Structure.
On this point, I would recommend using URL Structure as it gives you the most control and the easiest to maintain/optimize. Using a URL Structure approach allows you to bid more or less aggressively on the segments of your website based on the value that they drive.
While lead generation can be viewed as binary, you may have backend data at your disposal that provides more context about what types of search terms are most likely to drive leads that convert. For example, using our home security scenario, if we know that “home automation” search terms are more likely to generate a conversion-primed lead compared to someone searching for “alarms,” we can incorporate this data into our DSA bidding strategy.
Google will ultimately do the matching, but with our bids we can show a higher willingness to pay more for certain types of search terms and use our auto-targets to match the most relevant content to those terms.

Use “All-Site” Target as a Catch All

After you have built out the desired number of more granular auto-targets, use an “All-Site” target to pick up the remaining traffic based on your site’s content.

Before you decide what pieces of URL strings you want to target, you should first decide what URL strings or landing pages you don’t want to serve as landing pages. You’ll ad these as dynamic ad target negatives. This is particularly important if you have an All-Site auto target broken out. Examples of pages you may not want to serve include:

  • URL includes “About-Us”
  • URL includes “Careers”
  • URL includes “FAQs”
  • Page Content includes “Legal”

Remember, Google will crawl your entire domain, so make sure you utilize negative keywords and negative auto-targets effectively to prevent traffic from hitting non-relevant landing pages.

Gauging Success

Outside of standard performance metrics, you can learn a lot about the most successful pages on your site’s domain. This information can be extremely valuable in helping you shape content and messaging on your site and can be applied across your paid and organic strategy.
Looking at the Final URL report for the entire account history, you can start to see patterns emerge from URL strings of the most successful landing pages. Finding this landing page report is a little different in dynamic search ad campaigns.
Once in your DSA campaign, go to the Auto-Targets tab, and then click “See Search Terms”:

Once in this report, you can view the landing page that Google served for each search term that hit your DSA campaign. You can pull these reports to gauge the effectiveness of various portions of your domain.

Don’t Turn on Dynamic Search Ads and Forget Them

DSA campaigns require constant maintenance – like any other campaign in your account. Taking the time to build out negative keywords and negative auto-targets and analyze search logs and landing page reports will make or break your DSA campaign. The idea of “keyword-less ads” can be either an exciting or terrifying concept. Like any other tool, there is a lot more to learn about dynamic search ads and how they can be best applied to fit the unique needs of your account.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly at akent@3qdigital.com if you have any questions.

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