Up Your Paid Search Game with Responsive Ads

FLM Harvest

Paid search is an effective tactic we recommend for many clients because it captures an attentive audience. Google’s new responsive search ads (RSAs) turn it up a notch while providing greater flexibility. Think expanded text ads, but better.

While traditional search ads limit you to one static ad, RSAs can include up to 15 different headlines and up to four different descriptions. All of this real estate allows for better performance, deeper insights and effective cross-functional teamwork. Let’s dig in!


At their core, RSAs work to move marketers from manual to automated A/B testing of ad creative. You develop the ad creative and upload it into a new or existing ad group. From there, Google’s algorithm tests the different combinations of headlines and descriptions to determine what works best.

Tip: The smaller the screen, the shorter the ad. For example, users searching with a mobile device are more likely to see ad combinations with two vs. three headlines. Keep that in mind while developing your ad creative and analyzing RSA results.


Having variety in your ad creative keeps things fresh and exciting, which results in better performance. In fact, according to Google, RSAs can have a 5-15% higher click rate compared to standard search ads when developed correctly. Inject variety into your RSAs using these best practices:

  • Use headlines and descriptions of different lengths.
  • Include at least eight to 10 clear headlines and at least three distinct descriptions.
  • Avoid repetitive language or the same call to action.
  • Too many options can have a negative result. Include only one RSA per ad group.

Tip: “Pin” a headline or description only when necessary. If you must have a message always appear, make sure your combinations will make sense and your message is in a position that will always show.


Make use of higher performing keywords in the headlines. Doing so improves the effectiveness of your RSAs by increasing ad relevancy. Call them out to anyone helping with writing support.

Tip: Have at least three headlines that do not include your keywords to prevent your ads from being overly repetitive.


As marketers, we know that everything needs time. RSAs are no exception to this rule. Google’s algorithm needs time to collect data to better target the desired users with the most relevant ad combinations. Before implementing RSAs, set the expectation that legitimate results will take longer than a breezy two weeks and will become more reliable over time.

Tip: Google’s algorithm considers a variety of factors at auction – including overall historical account performance. Therefore, we recommend setting RSAs live for a minimum of 30 days before reporting results.

Automation gives marketers more time for creative thinking, strategic planning, and thoughtful optimizations. Responsive search ads capitalize on that to provide you with even greater opportunities. Now’s a great time to evaluate your current PPC campaigns and see if this ad type makes sense to weave into the mix.



Let's Talk>


Read this:

View Next Insight

View Insight>