Tips on How to Optimize Your Responsive Search Ads


Jenna Lamb, online marketing analyst at Ontario SEO
Jenna Lamb
April 11, 2022
optimizing a responsive search ad – Ontario SEO

The retirement of extended text ads in Google Ads is quickly approaching. By July 2022, you won’t be able to create expanded text ads (ETA) or edit existing ones. As the options for creating ads are reduced to one, now is the time to take full advantage of responsive search ads (RSA). Optimizing responsive search ads will help ease the transition and allow you to stay ahead of your competitors. Here are our tips for how to optimize your responsive search ads.

Optimize Your Headlines

Responsive search ads use Google’s algorithm to discover which headlines and descriptions garner the highest responses. Because Google automatically selects the content of your ads its important to optimize your responsive search ads headlines.

Create headlines that are unique, are up-to-date, and convey a message. Each headline should include key elements of the ad like the brand name, relevant keywords, or a call-to-action. We also recommend creating as many headlines as possible so that Google can deliver more variations of your ads to your customers. However, more is not always better; when you use headlines that are too similar, you’re not allowing the algorithm to do its job.

Analyze Your Assets

Google provides you some impression data on the frequency the elements of your responsive search ads are displayed . If an ad has enough impressions (>5000 in 30 days) you can also access a “performance” rating for individual assets. This data can be analyzed to determine what headlines and descriptions are being utilized and which ones you should replace.

We are hoping to see more advanced reporting for RSAs before ETAs are phased out. Ideally Google will include individual performance metrics (not just a rating), on all attributes of the ad, so we can continue to test ad attributes in a structured way. However, based on current signals in the platform, we are not holding out hope for this.

Review the Combination Reports

While looking at the assets of your responsive search ads, Google also allows you to view which combinations are served to customers the most. The combination report can provide you with insights into how your ads are most frequently appearing in the auction. It can also help you identify combinations that you might not want to occur.

Take the time to analyze how your ads are appearing. Check to see the asset combinations that receive high impressions compared to lower ones. The combination report is a great place to understand the most common combinations and determine which headlines and descriptions need replacing.

Use Smart Bidding Automation

When you pair smart bidding automation with responsive search ads, you are allowing machine learning to present an ad to the best possible candidate. Google has research to back this up. They share that advertisers who switched from ETA’s to RSA’s, using the same assets, in campaigns that also used broad match keywords and smart bidding saw an average of 20% more conversions at a similar cost per conversion.

According to Google, when you mix smart bidding, broad match terms, and responsive search ads together, you’re getting the most out of Google’s automation. The push for more automation and machine learning is here. As always, we recommend a cautious approach to deploying a strategy like this. Automation requires good data inputs, and this strategy may not work for some niche or low volume industries. While you can take advantage of the ability we still have to A/B test ad assets with ETA so you can transition to RSAs with the best available assets.

The shift to responsive search ads can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. As more machine learning intersects with advertising, you need to work with a partner that understands machine learning and can effectively test what approach is best. Work with our PPC specialists to make this transition seamless.