With a quality on-page SEO, with the DSA, you can build profitable, low-maintenance AdWords campaigns.
Three important concepts to bear in mind throughout this article
- Your site does not need to rank page #1 for this to work. This strategy requires only that Google’s organic index understands your site. (NB: « Organic Index » is the list of information about web pages that Google uses for the search results)
- Google understands its users. You know your prospects and clients. Google is best placed to optimise for its users. You are best placed to optimise for those users once they are on your site.
- AdWords text ads and Organic results share the same SERPs. The logic of both is therefore very much the same
What will you find in this article ?
- Building profitable AdWords Campaigns: What is AdWords / Google Ads DSA?
- The Strategy
- Your Competitive Advantage
- What you need for this strategy to work short and long-term:
Building profitable AdWords Campaigns: What is AdWords / Google Ads DSA?
DSA = Dynamic Search Ads.With this type of campaign, Google uses its organic search index to automatically optimise the campaign for you. From that simple statement, it is easy to see that, as long as your Search Engine Optimisation is good quality, Google will be able to do a good job of optimising your campaigns and will make them profitable. If your SEO is top notch, then Google will be able to do an excellent job of optimising for you and will make them very profitable. This is why you need to work on your SEO before launching your campaigns.
Who Can use this AdWords DSA strategy?
The short answer to that question is: almost every business. I have successfully implemented this for both B2C and B2B with spectacularly profitable results for e-commerce sites! Every website can enjoy AdWords’ DSA campagins if done well.
How does DSA work?
Much of the tricky manual configuration and optimising of your AdWords campaigns is done by Google’s algorithms. This leaves you time to focus on other things and ease your internal processes. This said, you don’t need an expert’s help to do the whole configuration, which also makes you save money for future projects.
Queries / Keywords
Building profitable AdWords campaigns relies a lot on DSA. Indeed, DSA will choose the search queries that will be profitable for you. It uses its understanding of your site and your offers via its organic index. And that means the content on your pages shows it which keywords will work for you. You are now able to choose them wisely and enjoy their popularity.
Titles / Headlines
DSA will pick out the most relevant text from your page as the headline. In short head queries, this is often the meta title. For longer tail queries (4 words and more), the titles can be very specific and appropriate for the intent of that query. Long tail queries are advantaged by Google for oral searches, made via vocal assistants. DSA uses Google’s organic index.
DSA automatically chooses the most relevant page in relation to the query typed by the user, and thus offers that user an ad that truly solves his/her problem. Once again, DSA uses Google’s organic index. Thus, it represents a true advantage for your ongoing campaign and eases your processes.
Building profitable AdWords Campaigns: why DSA works so well
Google is an Answer Engine. When someone searches on Google, they are expressing a problem they are seeking to solve, or a question for which they need the correct answer. At its simplest, Google Search must guide users quickly and simply to the ideal solution. The quicker and simpler the path from problem to solution, the better – Google further increases that user’s loyalty.
DSA is designed to send users to the advertiser who can provide the best solution to the user’s problem.
So the DSA algorithm will not show your ads when you do not provide the correct solution, and will place you front and center with the best ad possible when you can.
In short, DSA is designed to maximise your Quality Score. The higher this score will be, the better it will be for you and your website.
Quality Score: how does it affect your CPC?
This is a vital concept in Google Ads you need to understand. The higher the Quality Score, the lower your bid needs to be to hit top spot… and the less Google will charge you for the click. As you might have understood now, DSA and building profitable AdWords campaigns helps your quality score.
Importantly, it is relative to the other advertisers bidding on the query / keyword – a Quality Score of 8 or 9 indicates that Google considers your ad and solution are amongst the best in market. With a QS of 10, then you have THE best in market 🙂
Quality Score is a merit system based on the relative quality of the competing solutions in the auction to the problem expressed the user.
Quality Score is made up of a combination of three factors
- pertinence of the ad to the user’s need
- the click through rate
- the landing page experience.
Nobody outside Google knows what weighting each aspect has in determining QS. But as we will see, when you are running DSA campaigns, that no longer matters !
You will get a good score here if the ad is pertinent for the query – ie the ad provides the solution to user’s problem. DSA takes care of identifying the queries you provide a viable solution for: it will not show the ad if it does not believe you have a viable solution.
Click Through Rate
You will get a better CTR than the competition (remember this is relative) if the ad is pertinent for the query and the ad is attractive to the user. Once again, DSA takes care of both identifying the queries you provide a viable solution for, and chooses a headline designed to seduce the user.
Landing Page Experience
DSA represents a great advantage when building profitable AdWords campaigns. In effect, it chooses the best landing page – the page that provides the solution to the user.
But the user experience on that page is 100% your responsibility.
For your AdWords DSA campaigns to be profitable, your landing pages (and conversion funnel) need to perform better than the competition. Simple as that 🙂
Get your on-page SEO up to scratch and boost your competitive advantage
There are three main aspects of SEO that you should concentrate on when building profitable AdWords campaigns
- Crawlability/Indexability. If Googlebot cannot crawl and index your pages, you cannot rely on its organic index for your DSA 🙂
- UX on the page. Make sure the pages are fast-loading, attractive, explicitly answer the user’s query and provide an obvious path to the solution you propose.
- Copy. DSA relies on the copywriting you provide to understand the semantics and enable it to correctly identify pertinent queries, match user intent to relevant pages and create eye-catching headlines. It is up to you to ensure the pages are semantically clear and the copy is well-written.
Obviously all of the above will help your SEO efforts too.
Configure AdWords DSA campaigns
Provide a page feed
Do not allow Google to use your entire site. This is the default option, but you should control the pages it uses and limit DSA to those pages that make you money. It is not a good idea to include purely informational pages such as a blog, an FAQ, a glossary etc, unless you are an advanced DSA specialist. The conversion path is too long and too slow from this type of page, and they can easily ruin an otherwise great campaign.
Use CPA bidding strategy
In order to sell, optimizing campaigns for clicks (CPC) or impressions (CPM) does not make sense. The goal is to generate sales at a profit, and a CPA strategy allows the algorithm to optimize campaigns to maximize profitable sales.
As with any AdWords campaign, the more extensions you add the better. Sitelinks, reviews, callouts, prices etc – the more you provide, the more Google can A/B test and find those that work best for you. This is another advantage of building profitable AdWords campaigns.
Targeting to gain competitive advantage
Avoid unnecessary waste by correctly setting language and country.
Exclude the obvious ones to avoid wasted spend.
(Mutually Beneficial) SEO/DSA optimisation cycle
DSA provides short term data that allows you to quickly and efficiently improve on-page SEO. And as you improve your SEO, not only will your rankings, organic traffic and sales through the SEO channel rise… but your DSA will perform better and sales from that channel will rise too (possibly at a lower your CPA).
You win on both sides of the equation.
Analyse “Search Terms” within the “Dynamic ad Targets” section of the AdWords interface
Look closely at all of the following entries :
- the queries (keywords) Google has chosen for you
- the landing pages Google has chosen for each query
- the headlines (titles)
Titles / headlines
If you feel that the headlines are not perfect, have a look at the page – Google pulls the headlines from your copy – so you wrote them!
Solution: rewrite the meta title, H1 and summary (I recommend having a summary under the H1 as it is positive for the user, SEO and for DSA). If the offending copy is elsewhere in the page, rewrite that too.
Query / keyword choices
If the queries are inappropriate / imperfect, have a look at the copy on the page.
Solution: take a step back and try to understand why Google chose this page as a solution for the search query. Remember that Google will show the ad only if it believes the page provides a viable solution to the user’s problem / question. If Google chooses a page that is not pertinent, then your copy is misleading. Rewrite the content – starting with the meta title, H1 and summary… but also look at the content as a semantic whole. Make the changes necessary to remove the misunderstanding. Building profitable AdWords campaigns contain a lot of researches from your part.
If the word choices are completely off the mark, use negative keywords to exclude keywords that do not drive sales.
Landing Pages choice
If Google is choosing the wrong page for a given search query, then it is confused about the role of the page.
Solution: look at the page Google chose, and the page you would like it to choose. Make sure that each one provides the solution to a unique, identifiable problem. Either one page is redundant (ie it offers a solution to the same problem as another page), or the copy on the two pages is too similar and the distinction between the two is unclear to Google. Have a close look and compare the content on both pages – starting with the meta title, H1 and summary… but also look at the content as a semantic whole. Make the changes necessary to remove the misunderstanding.
Continually strive to improve conversion rates
Building Profitable AdWords Campaigns and improving the capacity of your site to convert is always a good idea. You will reap the benefits if you intelligently invest the time and energy necessary to perfect a user’s landing page and conversion funnel experience. As always, the perfect user experience is your ultimate goal.
Actions: Here you need to improve site speed (the faster, the better), your calls to action (make them clear), your on-page sales pitch and your conversion funnel.
With Cost Per Acquisition DSA AdWords campaigns, the incremental improvements are easy to measure, and the results are visible almost immediately.
These numbers will be the source of great motivation for you and your team.
Go back and start your DSA strategy again
Wait a week or so, download the new data from AdWords, and start the cycle again. Repeat as many times as necessary while building profitable AdWords campaigns.
Your Competitive Advantage
As you have seen above, google DSA will optimise two thirds of your Quality Score for you if your SEO is good enough. As it is mentioned before, optimising your SEO before launching a DSA campaign allows you to gain time and launch a fully operating and effective campaign. Thus, its success relies on your Search Engine Optimisation.
But, you will not be surprised that building profitable AdWords campaigns isn’t just it. Imagine that all your competitors have great SEO and use DSA… Although unlikely, it could happen. You all provide a comparable solution. Google knows that since you have all successfully “explained” the fact through your great on-page SEO… It may well appear that you do not have any advantage and that DSA will not work.
You can win. Just remember that everything is relative. You simply need to provide a superior user experience on-site than your competition.
- UX on the landing page – make your pages faster, clearer and more convincing to the users than your competitors’ and you will have the edge.
- Conversion funnel – DSA is optimising for conversions. Make your funnel better than your competitors’ and you will have the edge.
- Profit Margin – this is a major opportunity that is often overlooked. If you can set a CPA that is lower than the competition, you have an immense advantage.
What you need for this strategy to work short and long-term:
- The DSA configuration must be perfect at the start and carefully managed over time when building profitable AdWords campaigns. As with any Google Ads campaign, less-than-perfect configuration leads to excess spend, lost sales and reduced profits.
- You must continually strive improve your on-page SEO and conversion funnel – you can always do a little better. And remember that each improvement in your conversion funnel will help all your acquisition channels.
- You must monitor the campaigns. Changes on your site directly affect DSA, so it is vital to closely monitor multiple KPI such as conversions, ad performances, page choices, headlines, query choices etc.
Important: DSA is low maintenance. That does not mean “set-it-and-forget-it”. You must closely monitor and optimise the campaigns (see the TakeAway below).
In this article I’ve described a strategy that allows you to run profitable AdWords campaigns, use these campaigns to identify weaknesses in your on-page SEO and, by working on those weaknesses, improve SEO performance and make AdWords more and more profitable.
Each campaign is unique, so generalising about performances is not-so-helpful. Building profitable AdWords campaigns is a case by case process. I will give a couple of representative examples from the many campaigns I have run for clients.
Improving KPI for both DSA and SEO
This is real data for a uni-product client.
CPA represents cost per (profitable) sale.
Position is for the one major query that drives 80% of the traffic and sales.
As we progressively optimised the on page, we reduced the CPA delivered by AdWords by 50% and also gained two places in the organic rankings (note that gaining 1 place on page 1 in Google increases traffic by about 30%).
Dominating a market
In these two cases, building profitable AdWords campaigns set out above, after 6 months we dominate the AdWords auctions on these markets.