Dynamic keyword insertion updates PPC ads with relevant search terms to get more clicks. Learn how the experts use them to generate leads and sales.

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The more relevant an ad is to a viewer, the more likely they are to click it. But finding ways to make the ad more relevant to the user is a challenge.

Enter dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) —  a feature that customizes ads to make them more relevant to users’ search queries.

Below, we’ll cover dynamic keyword insertion, including what it is, how it works, why you should care, and expert strategies for getting the most out of it.

What is dynamic keyword insertion?

Dynamic keyword insertion is an advanced feature on Google Ads that dynamically updates your search ad copy to match users’ search queries. DKI ads allow you to automatically serve more relevant ads to search engine users with the goal of improving click-through rates (CTRs) and conversions.

In addition to being available on Google Ads, DKI is also a feature on Bing and Yahoo! Search ads.

How does dynamic keyword insertion work?

Dynamic keyword insertion works by automatically replacing some of the words in your PPC ad text with specific keywords from the user’s search query. When the user searches for a term that triggers one of your keywords, they’ll see the exact keyword they searched for in your ad copy.

Using the same keywords in your text ads that the user searched for assures potential customers you have a relevant product worth clicking on.

Here’s an example from Google of DKI ads at work:

DKI Google Ad example

(Image: Google Support)

The landing page and ad copy for both ads are exactly the same. However, they use different keywords in the ad headline.

Someone searching for “sugar free chocolate” likely won’t click an ad with the headline, “Buy Dark Chocolate” because it doesn’t say sugar-free. But changing the headline to “Buy Sugar Free Chocolate” based on their search query, increases the ad’s relevance.

How to use dynamic keyword insertion

You use dynamic keyword insertion by placing keyword insertion code into your ad headline or copy. This signals to Google Ads that these parts of the copy should be updated to include any of your target keywords when triggered by the searcher’s query.

To use DKI in your ad campaigns, include the proper formatting to tell Google where to use those dynamic keywords. Do this using {Keyword} to indicate where to insert the keywords.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion Example

Let’s put this into perspective by looking at a real-life example of dynamic keyword insertion.

Sheertex® sells ultra-resilient women’s tights. However, their potential customers may use different keywords to find a product like theirs online. The company can use DKI to ensure their ad headlines include relevant keywords matching what their users type into the search engine.

They might create an Ad Group with a keyword list that includes women’s tights, women’s hosiery, and women’s stockings.

When we search for “women’s tights,” we get the following ad:

women’s tights DKI example

And when we search for “women’s hosiery,” we get the same ad with the same landing page but a different keyword in the headline:

women’s hosiery DKI example

Using the same language the search engine user types in directly in the ad headline improves its chances of clicks and conversions.

Setting a Default Keyword

Sometimes, keywords in your ad group can’t be added to the copy because they’re over the character limit. So include a search term that will appear in the event that a keyword phrase can’t be substituted in the copy.

Sheertex® would maybe use {Keyword:Tights} as their default text to appear when the keyword doesn’t fit.

So when we search for “women’s stockings,” which is likely too long for the ad text, here’s the result we get:

women’s stockings DKI example

Again, we get the same PPC ad copy with the same landing page. But instead of seeing the exact keyword phrase that the user typed in, we see “tights” because the word “stockings” didn’t fit within the character limit.

Dynamic keyword insertion formatting

The formatting of your DKI code will impact how your keyword appears in the ad copy. Pay attention to capitalization when putting the code in your ad copy:

  • {KeyWord} will make the keyword capitalized using title case. For example: Non Toxic Markers.
  • {Keyword} will make your keyword capitalized using sentence case. For example: Non toxic markers
  • {keyword} will make your keyword appear in all lowercase. For example: non toxic markers

However, how you capitalize the default text in your code is how it’ll appear in the ad. For example: {Keyword:Non Toxic Markers} will appear as “Non Toxic Markers” (title case), not “Non toxic markers” (sentence case) as the Keyword code formatting would suggest.

Also, note that there’s no space after the colon when identifying your default text. There’s only spacing between the individual words in the default text.

You would use {Keyword:Non Toxic Markers} NOT {Keyword: Non Toxic Markers} or {Keyword:NonToxicMarkers}.

Is all of this reading like an entirely different language? Our team of PPC consultants can translate it for you — or better yet, provide complete PPC ad management. To get started, book a free consultation.

Why you should use dynamic keyword insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion improves ad relevancy, leading to better search ad performance. However, there are downsides to using DKI.

Let’s explore both.

Benefits of dynamic keyword insertion

Here are the benefits of using DKI for your paid search ads:

  • Increase ad relevance. When you use dynamic keyword insertion, your ads make sense based on what the user typed in. This relevancy helps you improve CTR as users are more likely to click on relevant ads.
  • Improve your quality score. Since DKI ads are more relevant, they may help you increase your quality score, allowing you to reach more search engine users.
  • Save time. When you use dynamic ads, you can target multiple keywords without  creating multiple versions of your ad, saving you the time and effort of managing more ads.

Downsides of dynamic keyword insertion

Dynamic ads can help improve your overall search ad performance, but there are downsides as well:

  • Your landing pages need to be relevant to all possible queries. Since your dynamic ads take everyone to the same landing page, regardless of the keyword, your landing pages must be relevant to all possible keywords, which can be challenging.
  • You could run into trademark violations. If you bid on keywords that are trademarked products or a competitor’s brand name, your ads may be taken down for trademark infringements.
  • Long-tail keywords might not display correctly. Longer keyword phrases may sometimes be cut off due to the character limits or display as a different phrase because of default text.

5 expert strategies for using dynamic keyword insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion is an effective strategy to help your brand stand out with highly relevant ads. However, it’s an advanced tactic that can get complicated if you’re not a PPC expert.

Here are 5 expert strategies to get the most out of your DKI ad campaigns:

1. Make the landing page relevant to your ad.

The ad will direct traffic to the same landing page regardless of the keyword the user typed into the search engine. So the landing page should be relevant to your ad, regardless of the keyword.

“DKI can be a useful tool when running Google ads,” says Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM. “However, you want to make sure whoever is managing the campaign(s) is not just applying DKI and running ads without double-checking ad copy and landing page content to ensure everything will make sense from a searcher’s point of view.”

If you have the capability, use dynamic text replacement on the landing page to ensure the keyword carries through onto the landing page content.

By having the keyword carry over to the landing page, you create a more relevant and customized experience for the user.

2. A/B test ads to optimize click-through rates.

Just because dynamic ads let you create multiple versions of the same ad doesn’t mean you should forgo all A/B testing. Testing different aspects of your DKI ads is still the best way to optimize your CTR.

To run an A/B test on your dynamic ads, create multiple versions of the same ad and change just one element. You can test different versions of your headline, ad copy, link description, CTA button, or images.

You’ll want to give the ads at least 2 weeks to run before you make a decision about which version of the ad works best.

3. Use dynamic keyword insertion in more than just the headline.

When most people think about dynamic ads, they think of inserting keywords into the headline. However, this isn’t the only place to use the DKI feature.

You can also include the keyword in the ad description and URL. Incorporating the dynamic keywords in different places throughout the ad makes the ad more relevant to your audience, increasing your chances of a click.

4. Focus on closely related ad groups.

Dynamic keyword insertion aims to create the most relevant ads possible. So make each ad group as closely related as possible.

Add modifiers to the product name for your keywords. But don’t use completely different products for your keywords. For example, if you’re an ecommerce shoe store, you can use “red men’s shoes,” “leather men’s shoes,” and “comfortable men’s shoes” in the same ad group if it’s pointing to a landing page with a variety of men’s shoes.

Similarly, you could use the keywords “running shoes,” “tennis shoes,” and “gym shoes” in the same ad group because they’re similar. However, don’t put “running shoes,” “women’s shoes,” and “dress shoes” in the same ad group because the person searching for one of these is likely not looking for the others.

To make targeted keywords closely related to your ad groups, try SEO keyword mapping before choosing keywords.

5. Track your campaigns to optimize ad performance.

Tracking metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS) helps you get the most out of DKI and achieve cost-effective PPC campaigns.

At HawkSEM, we use ConversionIQ, our proprietary software, to get the PPC analytics we need for ad campaign optimization.

“Tracking results of campaigns that use DKI with ConverionIQ gives us direct insight into the ROAS from these campaigns, which in turn will allow the advertiser to spend more money on campaigns that are working and trim the fat on campaigns that aren’t,” says Yadegar.

For example, when working with HomElectrical, the HawkSEM team tracked ROAS on DKI ads to understand which had the greatest impact. We then reallocated spending to the ads and products with the lowest cost per click.

“By using DKI along with our human touch on marketing campaigns, we were able to increase clicks by 32% for HomElectrical,” Yadegar says.

Read the full case study to see how we did it.

PPC expert on laptop

(Image: Pexels)

Alt-text: PPC expert on laptop

5 common mistakes to avoid with dynamic keyword insertion

Now that you know which strategies get the most out of your dynamic keyword insertion ads, let’s talk about common mistakes people make and how to avoid them.

1. Do not combine competitor keyword targeting with DKI

To avoid trademark violations, don’t use DKI to bid on competitor keywords like a brand name or other trademarked terms. If these types of keywords appear in your ad headline or body, it might appear that you’re advertising a counterfeit product.

Any PPC ad campaign you run should meet Google’s trademark policy criteria.

2. Don’t use DKI with broad match keywords

DKI ads create highly relevant ads. So using broad match keywords doesn’t make sense.

“For instance, if you sell women’s shoes and insert the broad keyword ‘shoes,’ your ad may appear for unrelated queries like ‘running shoes,’ wasting budget and hurting ROI,” says Suraj Nair, Digital Marketer at SocialPilot, a B2B social media management tool. “Always fine-tune your keyword lists for precision.”

Instead of using broad keywords, focus on other keyword match types like phrase and exact match.

3. Avoid keywords that are too long

While long-tail keywords tend to be more relevant and show an intent to buy, they don’t always fit into the ad character counts. So avoid keywords that are too long to feasibly fit in the ad.

While you can (and should) create default text to appear when the keywords don’t fit, this text tends to be less relevant and specific than the initial longer keyword.

4. Don’t forget to check for misspellings

As a precaution, proofread your ad headlines and copy for any misspellings or typos. Not only do you risk not showing up for the right keywords, but typos and misspelled words make your brand look unprofessional.

Google Ads Editor 11 makes this really easy by automatically detecting misspelled words (in English) and underlining them so you can fix them.

5. Pay attention to character limits

“One major pitfall is overlooking the character limits within ad headlines and de­scriptions, which can result in ads being cut off and delive­ring incomplete or confusing messaging,” says Sarah Jeffries, PPC specialist at First Aid Course Leicester.

Your keywords will have different lengths, so consider this when choosing keywords. If they’re too long, Google won’t be able to insert them and will use your default text instead.

The takeaway

Saying today’s PPC environment is competitive is an understatement. Dynamic keyword insertion is just one feature that gives you an advantage with your PPC ad campaigns.

By delivering highly relevant ad content to search engine users, you increase your chances of getting their click and their purchase.

If you’re considering dynamic keyword insertion for your paid search ads or aren’t seeing the results you hoped for, it may be time to bring in a PPC consultant.

Book a free consultation with the HawkSEM team today.

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