How To Set Up Google Responsive Search Ads

The majority of Google Ad’s releases this year have been focused on machine learning. The new feature I am most excited about is Google’s Responsive Search Ads. Responsive search ads have begun rolling out to accounts but are still not available in 100% of our client accounts yet.

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to create responsive search ads once they become available in your account.

What Are Responsive Search Ads?

Responsive search ads allow you to create an ad that will adapt and change in order to improve performance over time. You can enter up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for a single ad and Google Ads will automatically show different combinations depending on the search term. Google will test the different ad combinations and learn which work the best for each different queries.

Responsive search ads also differ from current expanded text ads by showing even more text in an ad. Responsive search ads can have up to three headlines – instead of two – and up to two 90-character descriptions – instead of one 80-character description.


responsive search ad

Responsive search ads are currently only available in English, French, German, and Spanish but other languages are on the way.

How To Create Responsive Search Ads

To add Responsive search ads to your campaigns, you first have to be in the new interface. Then, navigate to the ad group where you want to create the ads and select “Ads & extensions” from the left-hand menu. You should see “Responsive search ad” in the drop down. If you don’t see this option, Responsive search ads have not yet been rolled out to your account.

responsive search ad dropdown

Next, you’ll add in the headlines you want to test. You can provide up to 15 different headlines and the more headlines you enter, the more opportunities Google Ads has to serve up ads that best match the search terms. You’ll want to make sure though that all headlines are relevant for all keywords in the ad group.

responsive search ads headline

Google can show up to three headlines in a single ad and the headline can appear in any order. If you want a headline to show in a specific position, you can pin that headline by clicking on the pin icon to the right of the headline.

pin responsive search ad

Here, you’ll have the option to pin the headline to position 1, 2 or 3. If you only pin one headline to a specific position, it will only show in that spot and prevent other headlines from showing in that position. You can also pin more than one headline to the same position. For example, if you pin two headlines to position 1 then Google will only test those two headlines in position 1 and all other headlines can show in position 2 or 3.

responsive search ads pinning

Google doesn’t recommend pinning headlines for most advertisers as it won’t be able to test all possible combinations, but I do like this feature for more experienced ad testers who may want to try testing combinations of different 1, 2, and 3 position headlines.

After entering your headlines, you can enter up to four descriptions and Google will show up to two at a time. Just like headlines, you can choose to pin descriptions to position 1 or 2.

responsive search ads descriptionAll other fields are the same for Responsive search ads as they are for expanded text ads. Keep in mind that while Responsive search ads are still in beta, they can only be added to ad groups with existing text ads.

Responsive Search Ad Tips

Make sure all ad combinations make sense

Unless you are pinning headlines and descriptions, they can show in any order within the ad. Make sure all headlines and descriptions make sense in any combination.

Don’t max out all character limits

Responsive search ads have almost doubled the character limit of search ads, but that doesn’t mean you have to use all of that space. Test longer and shorter headlines and descriptions.

Don’t forget about Dynamic Keyword Insertion

You can use DKI with responsive search ads so try testing some copy options using DKI.

Pin the important stuff

If you have information that you always want to show, like a limited time offer, make sure to pin it.

But don’t over-pin

While pinning has its place, you don’t want to restrict Google from utilizing its machine learning. When you are first using Responsive search ads I would refrain from pinning anything for at least a few weeks.

Test one Responsive search ad per ad group

Since Google will automatically be testing different ad combinations, you don’t need more than one ad per ad group. If you do test more than one, it can slow down the optimization of your ads.

Have you tried out Responsive search ads in your account? If so, let us know what you think in the comments below.