The recent change in branding of Google AdWords to Google Ads isn’t just about the change in its name.

Google Ads signifies a new era in advertising where we are seeing more tools and features which are shifting the focus of from keywords to an audience and contextual based targeting.

Responsive search ads, introduced before the name change and still in beta, is one of those latest features of Google Ads that embodies this change.

Google has always experimented to make it easier for advertisers to get onto the platform and reduce the learning curve to set up ads. After all, businesses should focus less time setting up ads and more time on other core business activities.

Google Ad’s latest ad units, Responsive search ads allows advertisers to enter multiple combinations of headlines and descriptions which will be then tested by Google’s machine learning capabilities to serve the best performing combination to the right audience.

Please note that Responsive search ads are still in beta and it might not yet be available for your account. Additionally, responsive search ads don’t support many languages as of now.

In this detailed guide, we will look into the benefits of using the responsive search ads, how they work and how to start creating such ads from your account. This guide is based on official help article from Google Ads and our own experience of using the ad units.

Let me first explain why responsive search ads are the future and why you should start using it straight away. Feel free to directly skip to the section of creating the responsive ads.

What are responsive search ads?

Responsive search ads are a new type of Google ads that to show more text and can be more relevant to your prospective customers.

You provide multiple headlines and descriptions for your ads and Google automatically serves the best combination considering your prospective customers’ search terms.

This can improve your campaign’s performance as the ads learn and improve over time with data from Google using their machine learning capabilities.

Why use responsive search ads?

Responsive search ads might easily be the future of Google Ads which is trying to move away from the keywords based approach. While it might take some time to get all advertisers on the board, here’s why you should start using them.

Easy to get started

One of the most important aspects of responsive search ads is that they significantly decrease the learning curve for any new advertisers, especially small businesses and advertisers getting on the board. After all, businesses should be concerned with what they do best instead of mastering Google Ads.


Creating multiple ad groups and ads take a lot of time and are often a full-time job for many medium and large businesses. Responsive search ads can be huge time-saving letting businesses rather focus on what they do best.

Increased Performance and Opportunities

As your ads get displayed in more auctions and match more queries automatically, they provide opportunities to reach more potential customers.

Besides, those additional clicks and conversions help you compete in more auctions thus increasing the performance your ads and campaigns.

How responsive search ads work

After you providing multiple headlines and descriptions for your ads, Google Ads will automatically assemble them into multiple ad combinations and keep optimising them.

See this illustration that can quickly help you visualize how these new ad units work.

How Responsive Search Ads Google Ads Work guide

The process using machine learning capabilities of google keeps fine-tuning the combinations to learn the best combinations for user search queries.

How to create responsive search ads?

Now that you know what responsive ads are and how they can be useful to your business, let’s proceed with creating one.

Creating responsive search ads is as easy as creating any other Google Ads. Once you have the feature available for your account, you will see an option to create such ads in your usual workflow.

Step 1: From your Google Ads Sidebar Menu, go to Ads & extensions.

Step 2: Click the plus button and select Responsive search ad to proceed.

Step 3: Enter your Headlines, Descriptions and final URL along with the display path text.

You will see a preview of your ad using some of the combinations as you start creating the responsive search ad.

You can enter up to 15 headlines (with a minimum of three) and up to four descriptions including the required two.

Step 4: Click save once you’re done and your ad will go through the review and approval process.

How to improve your Responsive Search Ads?

Although Google Ads does most of the heavy lifting of combining and displaying the right ads for the right kind of audience, you still need to provide as much information as possible in the right way.

Google Ads has several recommendations for creating and improving your responsive search ads. Some of the suggested best practices include;

  • Although the headlines might appear in any order, the first three required headlines should be entered as they might appear together in the same ad.
  • It’s advised to make the headlines relevant to the keywords that you’re targeting and include one of the main keywords in a headline.
  • Distinct headlines with varied length and relevant to the targeted keywords give Google more flexibility to display the best combination.

Limitations of Responsive Search Ads

There are several limitations of Responsive Search Ads, primarily because it is still a beta feature for Google Ads.

Some of the major limitations include;

  • You can only add Search Ads within Ad Groups that have existing usual text ads.
  • Google doesn’t guarantee that the ads will be served.
  • Ad combinations might be combined in any order and it’s your responsibility to ensure the headlines make sense in any order. The Ad can show up to three headlines and two descriptions in any order.

As with any other types of Ads, you will need to ensure your headlines and descriptions comply with Google Ads policies and local laws.

Use Responsive Search Ads?

The latest addition to available ad units in Google Ads, Responsive Search Ads make it really easy for advertisers to set up and experiment with Google’s powerful machine learning capabilities.

Google believes machine learning will help the ads become more helpful, personalized, and relevant to prospective customers.

In addition to reducing the learning curve for advertisers, features such as Responsive search ads definitely signify Google’s broader move towards machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Do you use responsive search ads? Have they performed better than the usual text ads? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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