Table of Contents

What are DSAs?

DSA Uses

No matter how much time you spend doing keyword research, you won’t find every matching search query. According to Google, 15% of all search queries are either brand new or haven’t been conducted in the last six months.

While it is necessary to conduct keyword research, it’s also useful to ‘fill in the gaps’ where you either missed keywords, the words are marked as ‘low volume’, the query volume has changed, or new words are emerging.

This is where DSAs, or dynamic search ads, can help fill in these gaps and even be a great source of new conversions.

With DSAs, you do not need to conduct keyword research, and your ads are semi-automated. This is a great way to also get started quickly on a new account where you don’t have much data.

What are DSAs?

DSAs are a specialized ad format and targeting type within AdWords that is comprised of two components:

  1. Auto targets
  2. DSA ads

Auto Targets

Since you’re not picking keywords for DSAs, you do need to have a way to tell Google what your website is about. Google has great crawler technology as they provide wonderful organic search results.  DSAs leverage the organic crawl technology to match search queries to webpages on your site.

The first step to creating a DSA is determining what part of your site you want Google to crawl to match search queries to your webpages.

There are three options:

Choose recommended categories: This is a fast way to get started since Google has already crawled your site and show you potential coverage.

Target all webpages: If you want traffic to any page of your site, this is a good choice. Be careful of using pages that change frequently, such as flash sales, as DSAs leverage crawl technology and your site might not be re-crawled as quickly as you change content.

Target specific webpages: If you only want to include specific parts of your site, such as products for ecommerce, whitepaper lead pages for lead generation, and so forth; then you can target only specific sections of your site.

Exclusions: You can also exclude sections of your site such as “page contains 404 or out of stock”; career pages, or help files.

Once you have chosen your targeting, the next step is to create your ads.


Since you might not always know what search query caused your ad to show or even what page among all of your auto targets is the most relevant to the search query; DSA ads are partially written by your and then completed by the AdWords system.

For instance, you could tell Google to include your entire site in your targeting. In this case, you won’t know the final URL. Therefore, Google automatically fills in the final URL for you based upon the most relevant page on your site for the search query.

Therefore, you only create the description lines and let AdWords write the headline and final URL for you so that they match the page where the searcher will be sent.

DSA Uses

There are many good uses of DSAs, and when you fit into one of these criteria, they are very useful to try:

Good for increased coverage: This is the most common usage of DSAs, increasing your overall keyword coverage. This makes it so you don’t have to find every keyword.

Not knowing all keywords: There are times when you might not know all your keywords. This is common in niche industries where you cross over B2B and B2C lines, reach both consumers and buying agents, etc. The advantage of DSAs is that you don’t have to find all the keywords before you start, yet you can see the actual queries in your reports.

Capturing the long tail or low volume words: DSAs often show for words marked as ‘low volume’. If you are struggling to show for the ‘long tail of search’; DSAs can be very useful to ensure that you do have an ad displaying on these queries.

To enhance the visibility of content marketing (blog posts, whitepapers, buying guides, etc.): One of my favorite uses of DSAs is to drive traffic into our blog, whitepapers, and other content marketing efforts.  DSAs, along with social media, are great for content amplification.

Keyword research: If you can’t find all of your keywords to use in the account, leverage DSAs. With DSAs, you can see the actual search queries and their conversion rates for your DSAs. Once keywords are regularly achieving conversions, you can add them to the appropriate place in your account and then leverage DSAs to find every more keywords for you.

Expanding into new markets: If you’re expanding into new markets, DSAs are a great way to just do a little bit of work and start showing ads in a new market so you can see how the new market preforms and determine if you want to spend more time entering that market or if you’d rather test a new one.

Getting started fast: Creating DSAs auto targets and ads takes only a few minutes. If you are under a time crunch to get an account up and running, DSAs are a great way to get started quickly while you use both DSA search query data and conduct your own keyword research to expand the account.

If you’re looking to meet any of these goals or strategies, give DSAs a try. They are easy to setup and simple to manage, yet they can be powerful compliments to your carefully chosen keywords and well tested ads to improve your overall conversions for your PPC account. 

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