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How it started vs How it’s going: A Guide to Responsive Search Ads

Eduard Shlahtichman

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In 2021, Google changed the way advertisers thought about their ad campaigns by setting Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) as the default ad type for Search Campaigns. The platform also shut down one of the most beloved ad types, the Expanded Text Ad (ETA), by gradually reducing the number of impressions and locking the ability to change them. Advertisers were left with no choice but to make sure that all ad groups had RSAs. Fast forward to today, and the situation has changed, with only one RSA per ad group being sufficient.

Love them or hate them, you need to know how to use them successfully in order to succeed with Google Ads. This article provides tips and tricks for optimizing Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) for better performance, including having a simplified account structure, using only 2 to 3 pinned headlines, and focusing on improving ad strength by adding more keywords and creating a variety of headlines.

Volume, volume, volume

One of the keys to unlocking RSA performance ratings is by having a simplified account structure. To get the performance data that advertisers are looking for, Responsive Search Ads need around 2000 impressions in the “Google Search: Top” segment over 30 days. This is where a simplified account structure comes into play. With a more generalized approach, your opportunity to unlock performance ratings drastically increases.

To pin or not to pin – that is the question

In the last 12 months, many advertisers have been testing the use of pinned headlines in RSAs. The goal was to optimize the performance of the ads without sacrificing ad strength. The initial approach was to pin five headlines for the first position, five for the second, and five for the third. However, this approach led to missed opportunities and limited the number of combinations that Google could test and find the best performers from.

The golden rule, as it turns out, is to pin only 2 to 3 headlines. This allows Google to test the rest of the headlines while still giving the advertiser some control over the first headline that contains the keyword. Advertisers can also use keyword insertion in one of their pinned headlines to increase their search query coverage, which will immediately improve ad strength.

You’ll probably ask: “Does ad strength really matter?”

The short answer is yes, but advertisers shouldn’t spend too much time trying to get their ads to “excellent” just to please Google. Instead, they should focus on ensuring that the ad strength is not “poor” or “average.” To improve ad strength, advertisers can add more keywords to the descriptions and focus on the variety of headlines. This includes using short, long, and attention-grabbing headlines that include calls to action, benefits, and numbers. They should also avoid making changes too frequently and give the algorithm time and space to find the magic combinations.

RSA Optimization Hacks

Looking for even more support? We cover 5 more tactics that help you improve performance below.

  1. Add the “Ad strength improvements” column on the ad level for a better understanding of ad strength.
  2. Keep a list of additional headlines that have not been tested yet. This is a good way to have fresh ideas ready in case you need to improve ad strength on specific ad groups or campaigns.
  3. Check the “Combinations” tab to see the full picture and use the “Assets” tab to find the best-performing elements.
  4. Conduct ad copy refresh on a quarterly basis. This duration may vary depending on the budget and volume, but usually, three months are enough for the performance report to appear.
  5. Use the declining ad groups script to identify and optimize declining ad groups.

In conclusion, the world of advertising has changed, and marketers must adapt to these changes to remain competitive. Responsive Search Ads offer a wealth of opportunities, and by following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can unlock the full potential of RSAs.

Viara Vasileva
Viara Vasileva

PPC Team Lead

I help the companies to spend their Google Ads budget in a way that brings results. To achieve this I mix analytical thinking with a pinch of creativity.

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