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Quick Guide To Building Solid Google Responsive Search Ads

Google will soon discontinue its expanded text ads to focus on responsive search ads. By June 2022, you will no longer be able to create an expanded text ad or edit your existing ones.


Google responsive search ads are a makeover poised to revolutionize Google’s A/B testing. With it, advertisers should have much less workload. Before these future changes roll entirely out, this quick guide can help you be prepared to create solid Google responsive search ads.


We’re here to introduce what responsive search ads are and how they differ from traditional search ads. Most importantly, we want you to know the flaws we have come to see about RSAs and how you can solve them.


Are you ready to learn how to build your own Google responsive search ads?


What Are Google Responsive Search Ads?


Responsive search ads are the latest ad type introduced by Google, allowing you to create ads capable of adapting, such as showing more text and relevant messages to customers. RSAs can do this by using machine learning to find out your most effective ad combinations.


How does Google do this? By automatically testing different ad variations. These ad variations came from the headlines and descriptions you entered to create a responsive search ad. Google’s ability to adapt your ad content to match the search terms of your potential customers significantly improves the performance of your campaign.


What can you do with Google responsive search ads? It lets you write up to 15 headlines and four descriptions, and Google can use those headlines and descriptions to create up to 43,680 versions of a single ad.


Google’s free machine learning technology will test all those variations automatically, which is based on the device, browsing history, and other behaviors of the user.


Thanks to the use of machine learning, your Google ads experience will become so much better. After all, you can have almost endless ad testing opportunities, and you barely have to lift a finger.


Out of all this, the best thing we found is that there isn’t a single winning ad version. You can use several high-performing ads for the different buyer personas you have.


Responsive Search Ads vs Expanded Text Ads


You can already clearly see what makes responsive search ads different from other Google ads – they use machine learning, the others don’t. Google has four types of search ads, namely Response Search Ads, Expanded Text Ads, Dynamic Search Ads, and Call Ads. Before RSAs, the only text-based ads available were expanded text ads.


Here’s how the two differ:


Responsive Search Ads

  • 3 headline fields
  • Up to two 90-character description lines
  • Display URL path from the Final URL of the ad
  • 300 characters total maximum length


Expanded Text Ads

  • 2 headline fields
  • One 80-character description line
  • Display URL Path from the Final URL of the ad
  • 150 characters total maximum length


The biggest difference between the two is that with RSAs, Google automatically tests the responsive ads. This means you don’t have to test them yourself, even tracking the conversion rates, which means you have less to do.


Responsive search ads have quite an incredible benefit for advertisers. However, we also found some flaws in the system that just can’t help but bug us. If you’re starting a new campaign, you will likely encounter these, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to solve them for you.


Flaws in Creating Responsive Search Ads


What flaws did we find when we tried Google responsive search ads? Well, there were a few, highlighted below.


Headlines and Descriptions


As mentioned, Google uses the headlines and descriptions you input in the case of RSAs. The problem is you don’t know if any of the data you entered is good. You won’t know until you have the data to provide it.


You feel that they might suit your ads, but there is no data to support it. Moreover, the system decides what to think about the headlines and descriptions you provide for your ads.


Conversion Data


RSAs also have a problem with conversion data. It doesn’t have any, meaning you don’t know which combinations and elements of your responsive search ads perform best. You also don’t know how the lead quality differs when it comes to the ad variations.


What do you know then? Only what combinations are liked best by the Google Ads system. Google Ads may like them, but it doesn’t mean they performed the best. There is also no data about that, so really, you don’t know anything.




Lastly, RSAs have too many combinations. You get thousands of combinations to test if you add several headlines and descriptions as recommended by Google, each needing lots of clicks to know how they perform.


You can reduce the number of combinations by pinning elements in specific positions. However, the reason you are using RSAs may end up moot if you do this too much. It will take a long time before you get sufficient data on the combination’s performance.




Another of the things we didn’t like about RSAs is that the Google Ads system is so quick to make decisions. Within a day or two, you can see most Impressions already heavily weighted to certain headlines or descriptions. Too hasty, don’t you think?


A Different Approach To Building Responsive Search Ads


Responsive search ads use machine learning, which lacks the human’s ability to think rationally. RSAs can do great for your campaign, but you need to take a different approach to its use. You can make the most out of RSAs by combining human and machine abilities.


How? With you creating the quality inputs and the machine behind RSAs using them optimally.


1.   Test Ad Variations


The first step is to come up with several ad variations with different elements. Your task is to test those variations to get significant data. You are not testing these variations to search for the winning ad. Your goal is to make sure they are good quality inputs to use in RSAs.


Remember flaws 1, 2, and 3? This step will fix those flaws. By coming up with only a few variations, there doesn’t have to be too many combinations. Because you run them, you get the missing conversion data. With the data, you know that the inputs for RSA are of good quality.


2.   Run Data and Eliminate Under-Performing Ones


Ideally, you should run the ad variations for at least a month. That way, you can get significant data, such as which ones among variations meet the conversion performance benchmarks you set.


Did they all meet the benchmarks? Are there ones that didn’t win close to anywhere? If you find ad variations that are not doing well, you have to eliminate them and replace them with a new one. You will be rerunning those ads and analyzing the results later on.


3.   Replace Under-Performing Ads Again


After running the ads once again, how did the new variation perform? Did it meet the benchmarks? If it did, then that’s great. How about the others? If you see any ad variations below your target, you will need to remove them and replace them again.


Until when will you run, remove, and replace those ads? Until you get the number of ad variations that you want to use for your responsive search ads. It can be three, four, five, or more ads, as long as they each perform to the standards you set.


4.   Get Better Performance Results


After running the ads for several months, you now have the top-performing ad variations for your RSA. You can now be more confident that you have quality responsive search ads. This means that you are not just blindly putting variables in your RSA, unsure if they are any good.


What’s Next?


The next step is to input the ad variations you tested into RSA and let machine learning do its work. Google will then automatically test the combinations from the headlines and descriptions you entered and see which ones match your potential customers.


Doing it the way we did seems like too much work? Isn’t it better to be sure about the quality of your ads than have a lower workload? For small business owners, it’s indeed extra work. In that case, you should ask for assistance from a reputable marketing company that can take the task out of your hands.




Soon, the only text-based ads you will be able to use from Google are responsive search ads. It goes to say advertisers and small business owners must start familiarizing themselves with the system. Fortunately, Google has made it easier using machine learning.


We’re hoping we have made it much easier to understand responsive search ads with this guide. Our approach will add a few more steps to how Google responsive search ads work, but we guarantee it will equal better results.