Paid Media

The 2019 Beginner's Guide to Google Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)

5 years ago

Dynamic Search Ads have been around since October of 2011, but Google has recently enhanced the power of the search ads.

In this guide, you will learn what Google Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) are, the benefits of using them, how to set them up and Google best practices.

What Are Google Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)?

Dynamic Search Ads use Google’s advanced crawling technology to crawl your website for the most relevant keywords to target, and automatically use them in your ad targeting and ad copy.

According to Google, DSAs are:

‘Ideal for advertisers with a well-developed website or a large inventory, Dynamic Search Ads use your website to target your ads and can help fill in the gaps in your keywords-based campaigns.’

What’s important to emphasise with the above quote is that Dynamic Search Ads fill in the gaps for your campaigns.

No matter how much time you spend researching keywords, there’s still a chance you’ll miss out on relevant search queries. Without Dynamic Search Ads, even well-managed Google Ads accounts with thousands of keywords and each match type possible can still miss relevant searches.

Why you might ask? Well, according to Google, 15% of searches that they see on are brand new, every single day.

So Dynamic Search Ads help to fill in these gaps within keyword targeting by using website data to create dynamically generated ads and match them to these new and relevant search queries.

This means that the headlines of ads and landing pages are generated based on the products and services a business offers, and what users are searching for.

What are the key benefits of Dynamic Search Ads?

Full keyword coverage: As we discussed above, DSAs ensure you don’t miss any relevant search queries by filling in the gaps with keyword targeting.

Capture additional traffic: Dynamic Search Ads can help you gain additional traffic and sales by promoting your business to more customers than you can reach with a keyword-targeted campaign.

Guaranteed relevancy with dynamically generated headlines: When a user makes a search that is relevant to your product or service, Google Dynamic Search Ads will dynamically generate an ad with a clear headline for the most relevant page on your site.

Saves time with quick and easy set up: You can create a DSA campaign once you know what you’re doing (which you will after reading this post!) in less than 10 minutes. No more keyword research, ad creation, or bid management.

Why shouldn’t you use Dynamic Search Ads?

Can bring in irrelevant traffic if not set up correctly: Although DSAs are easy to set up, they will pull in a lot of long-tail queries, and they won’t all be relevant. If you don’t add negative keywords and targeted exclusions, this might hurt performance.

Not recommended for websites that change rapidly: If you update your website on a daily or hourly basis, DSAs are not recommended.

How do Dynamic Search Ads work?

Traditionally, Google Search Ads are targeted using keywords. When someone’s search is exactly, or includes these keywords, an ad may be eligible to show.

Keyword targeting Search Query

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how dynamic search ads work

What’s the difference between Expanded Text Ads and Dynamic Search Ads?

Expanded Text Ads and Dynamic Search Ads

Which targeting option should you pick for Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads uses content from your website to target your ads to incremental search queries not captured by keywords.

You choose from five different targeting options, which range from those that give you more control, to those that give you better reach.

dynamic search ads

URL is & URL contains


Target specific URLs or URL strings on your site

Who is it for?

  • Those who want more control
  • Those who have un-indexed sites


Target URLs of your website that contain “services” or “products”. So as a digital marketing agency running Google Dynamic Search Ads, we might have Dynamic ad targets for “URL contains /ppc-management/”


This targeting option limits DSAs potential but does offer the most control.

Page Feeds


Use a spreadsheet of URLs for the most focused targeting. You can then target your entire feed or parts of it.

Who is it for?

  • Those with larger websites
  • Those who have un-indexed sites
  • Those who can set up and maintain page feeds


A campaign for televisions with 5-star ratings (while using a ‘5 star custom label’).


The feed must be maintained and is complicated to set up. Here is the Google help sheet for how to use a feed to target Dynamic Search Ads.

Landing pages from ad groups


Automatically expands traffic on webpages where your search ads are already sending traffic.

Who is it for?

  • Can be used by all advertisers


An advertiser is already targeting televisions, gaming consoles and DVD/Blu-ray players in their standard ad groups, and can now target the same landing pages dynamically without the need to manage additional keywords for those pages.


Might not work for advertisers with limited or no search ads.



Google’s SEO indexing will provide logically grouped category suggestions.

Who is it for?

  • Advertisers with large websites organised clearly by categories


Targeting a DVD player category, or a collection of several TV categories.


If the website is not crawlable, Google can't make suggestions.

All websites


Targets your entire website, providing the broadest reach.

Who is it for?

  • Large websites who are comfortable with the automation of their website.


An advertiser targets all pages in


It’s important to use negatives to avoid sending traffic to irrelevant pages.

Dynamic Search Ads best practices

Dynamic Search Ads aren't complicated to set up or follow, but we’ve found there are a few best practices to follow:

  • Check your search term report daily after setting up DSAs. Add any unwanted search terms to your negative keyword lists.
  • Focus on your ad descriptions as they’re the only part of the ad that you can control. We recommend reviewing your other ads’ descriptions to see which ones perform the best.
  • Check your website coverage metric - according to Google, you should aim to reach a website coverage of above 75% to avoid missing traffic.
  • Exclude irrelevant/low-performing webpages
  • If you’ve experimented with Smart Bidding before, we’ve found that Dynamic Search Ads pair best with Smart Bidding.  
  • According to Google, start with a daily budget of at least 10% of your keyword campaign’s budget.
  • Create a separate campaign for DSAs.
  • Add your search campaign keywords as negatives to your DSA campaigns

How to set up Dynamic Search Ads

how to set up dynamic search ads1. Create a new campaign and enable the settings for Dynamic Search Ads

Expand Additional settings and click on Dynamic Search Ads to enable the DSA setting.

dynamic search ad

2. Create ‘Dynamic ad group’ in a campaign

3. Select your dynamic ad targets

4. Create DSA ads

5. Choose your bidding strategy

What performance can you expect from DSA campaigns?

Compared to their keyword performance, for the average advertiser, DSA generates a much better performance. Google has provided the metrics below:

dynamic search ads performanceConclusion

So should you ditch all your keyword campaigns and replace them with Dynamic Search Ads? No. DSAs should be seen as a way of filling in the gaps in your keyword-based campaigns. They’re complementary, not a replacement.

We’ve found that for accounts looking to increase their conversion volume, Dynamic Search Ads are one of our go-to options, especially if the Search Impression Share is lower than we would like. 

If you have any questions about Dynamic Search Ads or PPC management, please feel free to get in touch as we are happy to help.


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