Google’s Dynamic Search Ad (DSA) campaigns dynamically match search queries to a relevant page on your website, creating highly targeted ads on the fly. Read on to learn how to leverage this tool to boost conversions.

Here you’ll learn:

  1. What are DSA campaigns?
  2. What is DSA targeting and how does it work?
  3. How to set up DSA campaigns
  4. DSA ads vs. RSA ads
  5. The benefits of DSA campaigns
  6. Disadvantages of DSA campaigns
  7. Best practices for DSA campaigns

Looking for the MVP of PPC ads? Google Dynamic Search Ads are the utility player of the Google Ads game.

DSAs are one of the simplest methods for connecting with potential customers actively searching on Google. This Google Ads campaign type is particularly adept at creating ads for businesses with extensive product inventories. 

This comprehensive guide will explore what DSA campaigns are, why they’re valuable, and how you can harness their potential to boost your marketing efforts. 

We’ll also share some actionable expert advice from HawkSEM’s Senior SEM Manager Alyssa Galik that you can apply to your next campaign and highlight the best strategies and common pitfalls to avoid.

 What are DSA campaigns?

DSA campaigns dynamically match a person’s search queries to a relevant page on your website, creating highly targeted ads on the fly. They’re designed to fill the gap between traditional keyword-driven Search campaigns. 

A softly unfocused backdrop captures the essence of a contemporary shopping mall, adorned with the graceful movement of shoppers who traverse its halls in search, Generative AI

(Image: Adobe Stock)

These ads typically work well for businesses with large, frequently changing inventories or websites with extensive content. If you have only a few products or offerings, you may find that other types of campaigns work better. 

 What is DSA targeting and how does it work?

DSA targeting works by scanning the target pages and using page titles and site content to find relevant audiences. Here are some ways it does that.


One of the main DSA targeting options is “categories.” With this targeting choice, Google Ads automatically selects relevant categories based on the content of your website. When you build your campaign, you review and select the categories you want to appear for. 

When a person on Google enters a search query that falls within one of your selected categories, Google dynamically generates an ad headline and matches it to a relevant landing page on your website. 

This broad and versatile approach makes it an excellent choice for businesses with many products or large volumes of content on their site.


Specific webpages

If your goal is to promote specific products, services, or pages on your website, specific webpage targeting is a great strategy to choose. 

This targeting option allows you to pinpoint exactly which pages you want to advertise, ensuring that your ads are highly relevant to users’ search queries.

You determine the specific URLs you want to target in your DSA campaign settings. 

When a user’s search query matches the content of those specific pages, Google dynamically generates an ad headline and directs users to the corresponding landing page. 

This level of precision will help you ensure that your ads align closely with the user intent.

All webpages

For maximum coverage and a set-it-and-forget-it approach that works well for marketers who are pressed for time, all website page targeting is a great option. 

With this strategy, Google Ads scans your entire website and creates ads for any relevant search query, providing comprehensive coverage across your site.

Google’s web crawling technology continuously examines your website’s content. When a person enters a search query that matches any content on your site, Google dynamically generates an ad headline and links it to the most relevant landing page. 

This option ensures that your ads are displayed for a wide range of relevant searches but gives you the least amount of control over where people land on your site.

Pro tip: Don’t go all in from the get-go.  “When first launching a DSA campaign, I would suggest only selecting a few landing pages to start then, eventually you can look to expand to your entire website,” advises Galik. “In order to minimize the wasted spend, be sure to add all your current keywords as negatives, as well as consider adding the career, sitemap, or documentation pages that may not bring in high-intent traffic.”

 How to set up DSA campaigns

Setting up DSA campaigns is a pretty straightforward process now.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to set up DSA campaigns.

Create a new campaign:

  1. In your Google Ads account, select “New Campaign” and choose “Search.”
google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

2. Choose a campaign goal: Select the most relevant campaign goal based on your marketing objectives (these options are the same as it is with other campaign types).

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

3. Select Campaign Type: Choose “Search.”

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

4. Choose conversion goals and the results you want to get from the campaign. Then, name your campaign and click Continue.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

5. Select bidding and customer acquisition settings.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

6. Set up your campaign settings.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

7. You’ll need to put something in the keywords and ads section to create the campaign. You can pause or delete this later.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

8. Add your budget. Then, finish the review and launch. Hit publish when you’re done.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads screenshot)

9. Now, go into your newly created campaign. Navigate to the ad group level. Click to create a new ad group and choose dynamic.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

10. Enter your website into the first box. Then, name your ad group. From here, enter your website targets and choose categories if they’re available. Then click save and continue.

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

11. Here, you’ll be asked to create some ads. The headlines will be automatically generated for you. You should create two to three options to test. When you’re finished, hit Save and Next. Now, you’re all set!

google ads screenshot

(Image: Google Ads)

 DSA ads vs. RSA ads

The difference between DSAs and responsive search ads (RSAs) lies in both in copy and targeting. RSAs belong to a standard ad campaign type, while DSAs are added to a dynamic campaign type.

While both are automated, here are their key distinctions:

  • DSA: DSAs are a type of text ad. These ads are created dynamically by Google based on your website’s content. Google generates headlines based on the user’s search query and matches it to relevant landing pages. It also uses your final URLs to generate display URLs. You write the description lines.
  • RSAs: RSAs are an ad format available in standard ad groups. They allow you to create multiple ad headlines and descriptions, and Google dynamically tests different combinations to find the best-performing ad. It offers more control over ad messaging compared to DSA campaigns. They allow Google’s machine learning to create ad combinations relevant to user query and intent.

So, if RSA offers more control, why would you want to use DSA campaigns?

 What are the benefits of DSA campaigns?

DSA campaigns offer a huge range of advantages for all kinds of businesses. Here are just a few.

1. Efficiency and time-saving

Anyone who works in digital marketing probably feels like they never have enough time to do all of the things on their task list. 

With so many marketing channels, business profiles, and marketing assets to manage, finding time to do everything to the standard you want can be difficult. 

Imagine you manage the marketing team for an ecommerce store with hundreds of products that change every season. To create individual ads for each product would be a monumental task. DSA campaigns automate this process, saving you countless hours. 

As your product catalog evolves, so do your ads, without any need for you to make adjustments. This can save you a huge amount of time and allow you to put your team’s manpower to other tasks. 

2. Discover new keywords

DSA campaigns will help you uncover new keywords and search queries and fill the gaps in your keyword coverage. These campaigns continuously scan your page content, page types, and other parts of your website, uncovering valuable keywords that you might not have thought to use. Many marketers use this type of campaign as a catch-all to ensure no stone is left unturned. 

“DSA campaigns allow you to find opportunities that you may not have explored without developing a robust strategy,” explains Galik. 

“By selecting high intent landing pages on your site and ensuring you have the proper exclusions in place, you can test and learn about other keywords that have conversion opportunities.” 

Where do you see these keywords? In the search term report!

3. Greater adaptability

DSA campaigns ensure that your ads are shown for relevant searches, even if they are not covered by your existing keyword lists.

Let’s say you own a news website. New things are happening every day, and you have to constantly update your site with new articles. 

Traditional campaigns struggle to keep up with the ever-changing content. DSA campaigns, on the other hand, dynamically generate ads for each breaking news story as it appears on your site, ensuring you capture immediate traffic.

Another good example of this is if your site frequently changes pricing because you run sales or have offers. DSA campaigns will be able to scan your site and update your ads accordingly.

4. Effective for sites with large inventories

One of the huge benefits of DSA campaigns is that it can scan sites that are enormous. If you have a product catalog with thousands of products, there is no way that you would want to go through each one and create an individual ad for it.

But DSA can do just that. And quickly. The limit for DSA ads is 25,000 targets per account, but you would need a pretty huge site to exceed that limit. DSA campaigns can, therefore, make managing your ads simpler. Whether you add new items, discontinue others, or update product descriptions, your ads remain synchronized with your website content.

5. Save time

DSAs do all the heavy lifting — you input your domain and it grabs your content, turning it into highly targeted ads. If you’re short on time but still want to run ads, Dynamic Ads can be the perfect solution.

Plus, it can help in other ways. 

“DSAs save significant time and effort in managing campaigns by auto-generating ad headlines and selecting landing pages based on website content,” says Vaibhav Kakkar, founder of Digital Web Solutions. “This benefits businesses with large or frequently changing inventories, as it eliminates the need to constantly update and manage keyword lists.”

6. Stay relevant

Your Dynamic Ads change and adjust according to what people search for, so they’re always personalized and hyper-relevant to search queries. 

“DSAs are highly adaptive, allowing advertisers to cover a wide range of keywords. Plus, they match user intent effectively, even for long-tail searches that may be challenging to anticipate,” says Audrey Bakhach, owner of Custom Digital Solutions. “This results in broader coverage and potentially higher traffic.”

7. Target specific web pages

Dynamic Search Ads allow you to include all web pages in your ads or target specific pages or categories.

This is useful in several scenarios, such as an ecommerce website promoting seasonal content, or a shop advertising out-of-stock products.

8. Broaden your reach

DSAs can capture traffic standard ads don’t target, broadening your reach.

“DSAs capture a broader range of relevant search queries by dynamically matching ads to the content of a website,” explains Kakkar. “This allows businesses to reach potential customers using long-tail keywords and phrases overlooked in traditional search campaigns. DSAs ensure a more comprehensive coverage of user searches, potentially increasing the reach and visibility of the ads.”

 What are the disadvantages of DSA campaigns?

DSA campaigns can be highly beneficial, but there are a few disadvantages for some.

Cannibalization potential

Dynamic Search Ads identify keywords you’re not targeting. But that doesn’t mean your DSAs won’t target keywords you set for your standard ad groups.

Unfortunately, this leads to potential cannibalization issues.

The good news: you can combat this by adding negative keywords to your campaign settings. This will give your DSAs a list of keywords to avoid when generating ads.

“Challenges with DSAs include occasional mismatches between the generated ad and user intent,” shares Nathan Clark, co-founder of AI company Gate2AI. “We overcame this by refining our website content and adding negative keywords to fine-tune ad relevance.”

No control over ad copy

You don’t have control over ad headlines or copy in your DSA campaigns. They’re automatically generated based on your site content, so you can’t make adjustments.

“These campaigns offer less control over your advertising experience because of Google Ads’ automated creation of headlines and landing pages,” says Draven McConville, CEO at Klipboard. “DSA campaigns may become expensive because they cast a wide net and cause ads to appear for expensive and pointless search phrases. Finding high-converting search terms and optimizing your ads can take a lot of time and require perseverance and patience.”

But there are ways to overcome this.

“We overcame the lack of control over ad headlines by carefully selecting our target pages and ensuring they have optimized meta titles and descriptions,” shares Magee Clegg, CEO of Cleartail Marketing.

When to use Dynamic Search Ads

So when should you incorporate this ad type into your PPC marketing plan? There are several instances where Dynamic Search Ads are the best for — or addition to — your strategy.

“DSAs are ideal for advertisers with a very large inventory of products or SKUs and a very large number of individual landing pages associated with them,” advises Steven Dang, VP of Growth and Strategy at HawkSEM. 

Dynamic Search Ads automatically generate, saving time and the hassle of individually creating ads for products or landing pages. They’re especially useful if you have products consistently going in and out of stock.

You can also use DSAs to discover new keywords and target long-tail keywords you might not have thought of. A DSA capitalizes on high-intent keywords that increase your conversions and lower your cost-per-click (CPC).

Consider running Dynamic Search Ads alongside traditional search ads to maximize your reach, clicks, and conversions. As long as you’re inputting negative keywords and exclusions to avoid cannibalization, these two campaign types can work well in tandem.

 Best practices for DSA campaigns

DSA campaigns have major benefits for saving time and effort. But this means that marketers can approach them with a set-it-and-forget-it approach.

While they definitely require less effort, if you want to get the best results from them, you still have to implement a proper strategy.

Here are some best practices to follow with DSA campaigns. 

1. Start with well-structured website content

Your website’s content needs to be logically organized into categories and subcategories for DSA campaigns to work effectively. Organization makes it easier for DSA campaigns to match search queries with relevant pages on your site.

“I recommend optimizing DSAs starting with thorough website content optimization, as DSA relies heavily on it for targeting and ad creation,” says Nick Sforza, founder at Opvital

This includes tasks like:

  • Conducting a website audit
  • Removing irrelevant, outdated, or inaccurate pages
  • Writing page titles and descriptions for SEO
  • Improving your site structure and navigation
  • Categorizing your site content properly
  • Optimizing your page content for conversions

“Optimizing DSAs involves fine-tuning your website categories and continually monitoring performance metrics,” explains SEO expert Dominik Mąka. “It’s crucial to exclude irrelevant categories and low-performing pages to ensure that the DSAs are as effective as possible.”

Dynamic Search Ads automatically pull pages and/or categories to use for your ads, so get your website into tip-top condition to make this easier and improve your DSA ads in the long run.

2. Conduct thorough negative keyword research

Identify and add negative keywords that are irrelevant to your products or services. This prevents your ads from appearing for unrelated search queries.

“Implement negative keywords to prevent ads from displaying for irrelevant queries,” advises Sforzal. “Then, consistently monitor performance using the search terms report, adjusting and analyzing which queries trigger your ads.”

For example, if you have an ecommerce site that sells electrical goods, you might want to eliminate keywords such as “manual” or “instructions.”

But how do you select negative keywords to add to the list?

“To optimize DSAs, regularly review the search terms report to identify irrelevant queries and add negative keywords,” shares Clark.

Also, add keywords from your keyword-based campaigns to this list to avoid cannibalization from your DSAs.

3. Use ad extensions

Ad extensions like sitelinks, callout extensions, and structured snippet extensions provide additional information and may encourage more people to click on your ads.

Sitelink extensions, for example, are additional links that appear below your ad’s main description. They allow you to highlight specific pages on your website that might be of interest to users. 

You could use sitelink extensions to showcase key products or categories. For example, if you’re managing an ecommerce site, you can create sitelinks for “Best Sellers,” “New Arrivals,” or “Clearance Items.”

4. Monitor your campaigns

We’ve already covered that the set-it-and-forget-it approach will not help you get the most out of your DSA campaigns. While they require a lot less effort to set up and maintain, you still need to monitor them to avoid wasted ad spend and gain insights that could benefit your entire marketing strategy. 

Keeping an eye on your DSA campaign will help you identify issues, make timely adjustments, and maximize their performance. A major part of successful ad management is iterative testing and implementing improved settings such as keywords, bidding strategy, and targeting options. Tools like our own ConversionIQ can be a valuable asset and help provide the insight you need to do this.

Specifically, you will probably want to keep an eye on your key performance metrics (KPIs) such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per conversion, and return on ad spend (ROAS). These metrics provide insights into how well your DSA campaigns are performing.

5. Pair your DSA campaign with Smart Bidding

Since DSAs use machine learning, it pairs well with other machine learning tools. Automated bid strategies complement DSAs greatly because each element can be tailored at the time of auction.

“I find DSA campaigns are paired best with an automated bid strategy, whether that be Max Conversions, tCPA, or something else,” says Galik. “This helps Google only enter auctions for higher value opportunities that may at one point become a part of the overall strategy or capture one-time demand.”

6. Pay attention to your Dynamic Ad targets

Considering your targeting options? There are three main choices:

  1. All web pages: If you have a smaller website or want to advertise everything, choose this option. However, exclude irrelevant pages like Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and similar from appearing in ads.
  2. Specific web pages: Choose the exact URLs you want ads created for. This provides the most control, ensuring visitors only land on the most-optimized pages for higher conversions.
  3. Categories: If your website is clearly broken up into categories (i.e., by service type or product collection), choose specific categories to focus your ads around.

Your targeting choices may also vary from campaign to campaign. Consider what pages you have fully optimized, what products or services you want promoted, and go from there.

7. Write strategic descriptions

DSA campaigns allow you to create your own descriptions, but its algorithm dynamically chooses your headline and URL data. So while you forfeit the level of control you get with standard ads, you still get to direct your overall messaging.

There are two description lines you can fill out, allowing two variations of a description of your website and its products or services. Share what makes your company unique, what your value proposition is, and a call-to-action.

You can always go back to adjust these descriptions later to test which variation generates clicks and lowers your cost-per-action (CPA).

8. Monitor your campaigns

DSAs aren’t a “set it and forget it” campaign. You still need to monitor your performance.

“If you want your Dynamic Search Ads to bring you the desired results, you need to find the right balance between automation and supervision. It’s important to keep monitoring your campaigns,” shares Seth Besse, CEO of “Keep an eye on the search terms triggering your ads and adjust your targeting as necessary. You can also adjust your bids to ensure that you get the most value out of your advertising spend.”

9. Create DSAs alongside other ad campaigns

DSAs don’t have to be your main source of clicks and conversions in your PPC strategy. In fact, Clegg shares that DSAs can be a powerful complement to other advertising channels. 

“For example, in a comprehensive marketing campaign, we use DSA to cover a broad range of keywords, while using traditional search ads to target high-value keywords,” says Clegg.

Moral of the story? Use DSAs alongside other ad types in the Google search network or on search partners. 

“DSAs complement traditional search ads by automating and enhancing campaign management, increasing coverage and relevance, and adapting to evolving website content, resulting in improved ad performance and a more efficient advertising strategy,” shares Kakkar.

10. Take advantage of tools available to you

As an alternative to scaling campaigns, consider using online tools. For example, Ahrefs and Semrush. At HawkSEM, we use our proprietary tool ConversionIQ and customer data we gather to pinpoint high-converting keywords.

We then use these keywords to start new campaigns (these can be new search campaigns, organic campaigns, or social media campaigns to name a few). This is a quicker and more efficient path to a higher ROAS while scaling.

To benefit from the power of ConversionIQ, get in touch with one of our Google Ads consultants today.

The takeaway

DSA campaigns can empower you to save time and harness the power of automation. Not only will DSA campaigns save you time, but they will also assist with keyword discovery and can amplify your advertising strategies to reach new and wider audiences. 

By following best practices, optimizing ad extensions, and continuously monitoring campaign performance, you will save valuable time and unlock the full potential of DSA campaigns to achieve outstanding results that will skyrocket your ROAS.

Need help getting started? Let’s chat!

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2023.

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