How to Create “Excellent” Ad Strength RSAs in Bulk For Google Ads

Today’s post is written by Guest Author, Mike Nelson – Co Founder of Four15 Digital. We’re excited to share insights and guidance from additional industry voices here on the Clix blog, so make sure you stay tuned to the Guest Post category!


Machine learning in Google has been around for a LONG time. Even as far back as a decade ago, “conversion optimizer” was beating manual bidding and 3rd party software nearly all the time. 

Now, in 2021, Google has advanced even farther. And, among other things, Google has noted that they’ll fully transition advertisers to RSAs starting in June 2022 (simply meaning new ETAs can not be created. We’ve got some accounts with ‘text ads’ still running, so it’s likely ETAs will still be served for years!)

In general, you either fight against machine learning with your account strategies and structures, or you embrace it. If you’re the latter – now is the time to start figuring out how to best optimize RSAs….but do so cautiously. 

Are RSAs good for my account performance yet?

In short, the answer is likely to be ‘no’. What you’ll see with RSAs, pretty much time and time again, is higher CTR, lower CPCs, and much lower conversion rate when compared to ETAs. With this mix of metrics, you’ll sometimes see RSAs win overall, but more often lose. 

You’ll also see Google’s ad rotation algos favor RSAs for far too long before they start seeding your ETAs back into the mix. So, fair warning, even with all RSAs reading as ‘excellent’, your strategy should likely still include ETAs. Consider RSAs very much ‘testing’, but also an investment in the future. Don’t delete your ETAs, or be tempted to pause them unless your performance dictates it.  

It’s also important to note it’s not a guarantee that improving your ‘ad strength’ will result in your RSAs actually performing better. Even so, good ad strength is something we typically strive for, because Four15 Digital thinks that Google will keep finding ways to reward advertisers who follow their best practices, such as complying with ad recommendations. 

At any rate, here is some example data across RSAs within a single account. The ‘excellent’ ads do the worst! And, ETAs do better than RSAs in this account too. Wow.

RSA performance data

We are intentionally testing ‘poor’ ads vs ‘good or excellent’ ones. 

One of the reasons I think we have nearly 8 more months to create ETAs is because Google knows that RSAs really aren’t there yet performance-wise. They’re giving themselves a reasonably long time to figure it out. Keep in mind, RSAs have been around since May 2018, so it’ll be more than FOUR YEARs before it becomes the predominant ad type. 

Unique Aspects of RSAs as You Prepare to Write

Not every search marketer is aware of the dynamic ad options available from Google. Simply put, there are more available with RSAs than their ETA foes! To pull these options up, simply type a brace (“{“) in the online version of Google Ads. You’ll see here ‘countdown’ and ‘location insertion’ options – which don’t exist for ETAs.

dynamic RSA options

Recently, Google also extended the ability for RSAs to use ad customizers. Learn more about that here if you’re really curious!

And now for the fun stuff — how to get ‘excellent’ ad scores!

Create a Plan

Despite ‘excellent’ scoring ads often doing more poorly performance-wise than ‘poor’ ads, the goal of this blog is ‘excellence”! This starts with a plan:

  • Create 15 headlines
  • Create 4 descriptions
  • Create a customized path 1 and path 2
  • Follow other RSA publicly listed best practices
  • Do not pin any headlines as this affects ad score

successful RSA criteria

Making Your Headlines

There are different approaches to headlines. We create a plan like this with RSAs

  1. Use my best H1 from my ETAs. That’s 1 headline.
  2. Use 4 headlines that have ad customizers – location, DKI x 2, Countdown. Now we’re at 5 headlines.
  3. Use 4 headlines that feature your brand and generic brand value propositions that aren’t campaign or ad group specific. That’s 9 headlines.
  4. Use excel to pull in the most popular 3 keywords I have in my ad group (by clicks, imps, or other metric). If I have less than 3 keywords in an ad group with traffic, then recycle a few keywords from that ad group that have no recent traffic, or use queries. That’s 12 headlines.
  5. Since you are just extracting out a keyword, it won’t make sense to have it as a stand-alone headline. You’ll need to find ways to concatenate in other words to create something sensible
  6. Write 3 ‘campaign’ theme headlines. Something that’s a bit higher level – but still speaks to the theme of the campaign. That’s 15 headlines!

So, what you end up with is about half your headlines are customized to the keyword, ad group or campaign, and the other half are pretty generic. This is a recipe for Google to create a variety of combinations, which is what they want to improve ad score. 

Completing Your Ads

We have 4 descriptions to write. Let’s make a plan for that, too. 

  1. Create 2 campaign generic descriptions. So, if your campaign’s theme is ‘sweaters’ (and you have another campaign for ‘hats’) write 2 descriptions about how great all your sweaters are and don’t worry about the specific ad group’s sweater variation. That’s 2 descriptions.
  2. Create 1 ad group specific description where you keyword stuff the most popular keyword in the ad group using excel functionality. That’s 3 descriptions.
  3. Use DKI in 1 description that’s otherwise generic to how great your business is. That’s 4 descriptions.

Next up we have Paths. Please note, DKI does work with paths — feel free to use them. Otherwise, putting something specific to a campaign is usually enough. Path lengths are so short (15 characters max) it’s hard to be too granularly customized with them due to lack of space, so something like is probably good enough to score high!

And honestly, that’s about it!

What makes this process hard is simply having the Excel chops to work through 100s or thousands of ad groups and stay within character restrictions so it doesn’t turn into an insanely manual process. 

And, secondly, you are not allowed to have the exact same content appear within an RSA ad more than once (e.g. you can’t have the same headline appear twice), and it’s entirely possible this happens from time to time with the above process. Editor will flag these errors for you, but not tell you what the error actually is as of current. 

If you’ve uploaded your ads, and find you’re still getting less than ‘excellent’ scores, but strive to be — well, it’s time to sort by high to low and manually start chipping away at your ads! Have fun.

Wrapping it Up

Get on the RSA train now so you’re familiar with how to procedurally build them out. But the performance improvement you’re likely to bring to your business is likely minimal. Think of RSAs as an opportunity to learn some new excel tricks, and just better prepare for an increasingly machine learning based future. Google will figure out how to serve RSAs so your business actually improves (at some point!) — but that day isn’t likely today, whether or not you’re running ‘poor’ or ‘excellent’ RSAs.