Over 10 years we helping companies reach their financial and branding goals. Onum is a values-driven SEO agency dedicated.

Blog Posts

Everything You Need To Know About Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)

What are Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?

As of June 30, 2022, Google terminated expanded text ads and responsive search ads have now become the standard text ads in Google Ads. You can write up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions in an RSA and show more than one relevant message to your potential customers. Besides, an important thing to keep in mind is that Google automatically tests multiple combinations of your ad copy to help you get the best results. The goal here is to show only relevant content to your target audiences based on their specific search queries. Responsive search ads are simple, strategic, and one of the most effective ways to implement a successful PPC marketing strategy and gain new customers.

How Responsive Search Ads Work?

When it comes to responsive search ads, Google can combine and test various headlines and descriptions to help you get the best results. Responsive search ads will determine what works best for you over time and show those combinations to potential customers when they search for something on Google.

Here’s how RSAs work:

You write headlines (up to 15) and descriptions (up to 4) and Google automatically creates the ad based on searchers, their needs, queries, etc. The more headlines and descriptions you enter, the higher your chances of getting the ad in front of more people will be. Note that all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions will not be shown to searchers. Google can show a maximum of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions at a time in a single responsive search ad. These headlines and descriptions will appear in different combinations and sequences according to your searcher’s queries and needs.

How To Create Responsive Search Ads?

From the left navigation menu, click Ads & Assets.

Click the plus (+) button and choose Responsive search ad.

You will be taken to the responsive search ads interface.

1.      Final URL

Add a final URL and Google will show you the headline and description suggestions based on your website. A final URL is where a potential customer lands upon clicking your ad.

2.      Display Path

Add a display path. It is the final URL your potential customers will see in your ad. You can include two display paths (character limit: 15). You can learn more about display path here.

3.      Headlines

You will have to write 3 headlines in the least. You can write up to 15 headlines with a character limit of 30 for each. Moreover, you may also see keyword suggestions to include in your headlines. Click More ideas to see several suggestions for your headlines.

4.      Descriptions

Next, add at least 2 descriptions (you can write up to 4). Note that you can write up to 90 characters in a description. If you click View ideas, Google Ads can also show you a number of ideas for your descriptions.

5.      Images

You can also add relevant images to suit your text ads but you will have to adhere to all the creative guidelines for images. Learn more about adding images in a responsive search ad.

6.      Sitelinks

Add Sitelinks. Sitelink assets (previously known as sitelink extensions) allow users to visit any specific page of your website apart from the landing page. They appear just below your ad and help your ad occupy more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP). Furthermore, adding 4 or more sitelinks will maximize the performance of your ad. Learn more about sitelink assets here.

7.      Other Assets

Apart from sitelinks, you can also add other assets in a responsive search ad. These assets can enhance the performance of your ad and offer more details about your business. Click More asset types and you will see all the assets like Promotions, Prices, Calls, Callouts, Structured Snippets, Lead Forms, and Apps that you can include in your ad.

8.      URL Options

Fill out the Ad URL options where you will have to include a tracking template, Final URL suffix, and a Custom parameter.

You can also test a different final URL for mobile.

9.      Ad Strength

Ad strength appears at the top of the interface and provides feedback about the ad’s score and how your ads can be further improved. You can get several ideas for optimizing your ads to get the best results. Learn more about Ad Strength. Google Ads recommends having at least 1 responsive search ad in an ad group with ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ Ad strength.

10.      Preview

You will also see a Preview option on the right to see how an ad will appear on mobile and desktop. Learn more about Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool.

How to Optimize Responsive Search Ads To Get Better Results?

1.      Headlines and descriptions should be unique

As you can write up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions in a responsive search ad, it is important to make the most of this opportunity and write unique headlines and descriptions. With varied ad copy, you can write and test different CTAs, features, benefits, and everything that makes your ad copy unique so that all headlines and descriptions can stand alone on their own and provide a relevant message to viewers.

2.      Try headlines and descriptions of different character lengths

It is important to try and test varied descriptions and headlines, but it is also equally vital to experiment with headlines and descriptions of different character lengths. You can write shorter headlines and descriptions for mobile devices so that the ad is shown to people without getting its segments omitted because of screen size.

3.      Pin headlines or descriptions for optimization

Even though Google Ads automatically decides the order in which your headlines and descriptions appear in a responsive search ad, you still have the option to pin headlines and descriptions to specific positions. Pinning certain headlines and descriptions gives you more control if you want to show some specific headlines or descriptions to potential customers. Let’s say you want people to know that you offer free shipping and you’ve created a headline “Get Free Shipping”. You can pin this headline by clicking the pin icon you will see while creating or editing any responsive search ad.

4.      Don’t pin all headlines and descriptions

Pinning headlines and descriptions indeed gives you more control over what you can show in an ad there is no need to pin all the headlines and descriptions. Doing so limits Google from automatically testing different combinations according to the queries of different searchers.

5.      Add clear, relevant, and short CTAs in your ads

It is important to include short, clear, and relevant CTAs in a responsive search ad because they usually help you get better results.

6.      Ensure the ad copy does not violate Google policies and local laws

An important thing to keep in mind is the ad copy should not have anything that violates any policy of Google or any of the local laws. If your headlines or descriptions have anything that raises red flags, there are higher chances of the ad getting disapproved. Read more about Google’s policies for responsive ads here.

7.      Use Countdowns

If you want to inform your target audiences about any upcoming special events, sales, or offers, you can highlight them by adding countdowns in your responsive search ads. Learn more about countdowns and how to set them up here.

8.      Use ad copy from high-performing ads

One of the best practices to get great results from responsive search ads is using ad copy from ads that have yielded better results for you in the past. Go through your existing ads and identify the ones that generated fruitful results. Dig into their headlines, descriptions, and CTAs to see what you can include in your responsive search ads to get more leads, conversions, and sales.

9.      A/B Testing

Although Google shows various combinations of your ad copy to different users depending on what they are searching for, you can always split test ads to see which works better for your business.

10.      Utilize Smart Bidding

It is better to use smart bidding to get the best results. Smart bidding automation also stops the ads from showing up in front of the wrong people (those who are not your target audience). Advertisers can also use manual and smart bidding in combination to make the most of Google’s automation.

11.      Combinations Report

You can check out the combinations reports if you want to know more about the different ad combinations Google frequently shows to various users. Review these reports to see insights into how Google’s algorithms are working to show your ads in various combinations for optimization. Read more about combinations reports for responsive search ads

Pros and Cons of Responsive Search Ads


There are many benefits of using responsive search ads:

  • Responsive search ads offer more room for flexibility and are easily adjusted according to different devices, widths, etc. so that you can share your message with more customers.
  • Another benefit of responsive search ads is getting personalized ads in front of different audiences and customers so that more people can see your shared message.
  • RSAs help you show the most relevant combinations to searchers.
  • You can test different options and ideas in a short period with responsive search ads.
  • With responsive search ads, you can experiment with various headlines and descriptions to see what works best for you and drive favorable results.
  • Google automatically tests different combinations in a single ad so you don’t have to necessarily go into the details of split testing 2 ads against each other.
  • Having multiple headlines and descriptions is a great advantage for businesses. It will increase your reach, which means your ad will cater to the needs of more customers.
  • You can write ad copy tailored to the locations of your target audience and potential customers.
  • Go for responsive search ads if you want to increase the performance of your ad groups.
  • Responsive ads also drive better results and a higher click-through rate (CTR) – ad views and clicks will be relevant as Google shows different combinations to different searchers based on their queries.


Even though there are several benefits of using responsive search ads, there are a few cons to them which is why some advertisers are hesitant to try them:

  • One of the most prominent disadvantages of responsive search ads is that advertisers lose control over the combination of headlines and descriptions potential customers will see in an ad copy. Of course, you can pin headlines or descriptions as you see fit, but you can’t pin every headline and description as it is going to affect the ad’s performance. Advertisers can lose brand control while using responsive search ads and they are not certain if they will get the desired results or not.
  • Several advertisers who are used to their own strategies may not prefer trusting automation over the methods and strategies they’ve been using for years.
  • To test what works best for you, you will have to write more headlines and descriptions which means more work for you.
  • Many advertisers also believe if people get used to using responsive search ads, they will ignore A/B testing, which is one of the most trustworthy conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies to determine what works best and drives better results.
  • There is no comprehensive reporting offered by Google on the testing methods and measures, we don’t know how Google decides a particular ad combination is suitable for specific searchers and potential customers.

You may run into several issues if you want to share any legal or important details in your ad copy, as it may or may not show in the ad unless you pin it.

Responsive Search Ads vs. Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic search ads are a type of search ads that show based on your website content and are one of the simplest ways to show ads to people looking for products and services related to what you offer. Here’s a brief comparison between responsive and dynamic search ads:

  • Dynamic search ads will decide the most relevant page on your website and create an ad with a clear headline. You will have to write a description only. On the other hand, you need to write several headlines and descriptions for a responsive search ad and Google will decide the most relevant combinations to show your potential customers and target audiences.
  • Dynamic search ads save time. You don’t have to look for keywords or worry about what to write in your headlines as they will be generated according to the content on your final URL. On the other hand, writing responsive search ads can take more time, especially if you plan to write all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions.
  • Dynamic search ads are generated either based on any specific page, category, or the entire website (based on your final URL) while you will have to include a display URL for a responsive search ad.
  • Dynamic search ads help you gain surplus traffic and sales. Responsive search ads also help you reach new audiences and Google shows various sequences of your ads to different searchers to help you get more relevant traffic.
  • With dynamic search ads, it is totally up to you whether you want to show ads based on a specific web page, particular categories of your products, etc. Even though you can create responsive search ads for a specific landing page, Google can shuffle the headlines and descriptions and show the ads to searchers based on their queries, etc.
  • Dynamic ads are great for remarketing campaigns if you want to target people who are already familiar with you and your brand. On the other hand, if you want to get as many qualified leads as possible to enhance your conversion rate, responsive search ads can be a better option for you.

RSAs Best Practices - Learnings From Our Experience

According to our experience and perspective, responsive search ads have proven to be quite effective practice time in and again.

One of the biggest advantages of responsive search ads is being able to write multiple headlines and descriptions. Writing various headlines and descriptions optimizes your ad and allows Google to show different combinations of your ad to searchers according to their queries and needs.

As we mentioned above, a number of advertisers feel they are not in control because they don’t know which ad combination will appear in front of different searchers. However, we have learned that pinning headlines and descriptions is a great advantage, and utilizing this option has helped us get the upper hand. If you want to show a certain headline or description to your potential customers, just pin it to a specific position.

Being able to test a different URL for mobile users is also one of the most significant features that make responsive search ads so helpful.

With expanded text ads (ETAs), there was no option to include an image extension at the ad level, but with responsive search ads, you can add an image extension at the ad level too, which is quite effective.

It is recommended to achieve a “Good” or “Excellent” Ad Strength score. We’ve analyzed one of the elements that can help you get a high Ad Strength score is writing ad copy that matches your landing page. In other words, the landing page must be the continuation of your ad copy. For instance, if your ad copy says “Free Shipping On Orders Above $200” but it’s not mentioned anywhere on your landing page, you can lose a potential customer if they bounce back thinking you scammed them with a clickbait.

Moreover, we have also learned that writing independent and unique headlines and descriptions is one of the best practices for responsive search ads. As Google can show your headlines and descriptions in various combinations, writing independent headlines and descriptions is important. If your headlines and descriptions are dependent, your ads may end up in front of potential customers giving an irrelevant message.

Having headlines and descriptions of varying lengths have worked for many advertisers, but according to our learning and experience, the character limit does not make much of a difference. Nevertheless, you can try and experiment with different character limits to see what works for your business.

A/B testing has done wonders for us over the years. Irrespective of your industry, testing and trying new things can determine the factors that help you get the most profitable results for your business. With A/B testing, you can test any 2 variables including landing pages, ad copy, offers, prices, CTAs, etc. to see which is more effective for your business.

As for the bidding strategy, we learned that smart bidding works best when it comes to responsive search ads. However, manual bidding strategy has also yielded great results.

To Sum Up

With the competition in the corporate and business worlds reaching great heights, it is important to try everything in your arsenal to stay at the top of your game. When it comes to Google Ads, responsive search ads are a flexible and easier means to generate more leads and optimize conversion rates. If you are looking for an ad format that saves the time spent testing to see which ad copy works best for you, go for responsive search ads.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *