Remarketing Lists for Search in Google AdWords

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Remarketing lists for search is a way to show your ads to people who already visited your website and adjust your channel to prioritise their searches. Google AdWords has this feature for web visitors and customer email lists. Google recommends this option for marketers, as it refines targeting like nothing else.


What exactly is Remarketing Lists for Search?


Remarketing lists for search are way of using data you have generated about website visitors or customers of your business and include this data in your Google AdWords targeting.


You can use this feature in two different ways:


  • Observations, which means you run your campaigns as usually but ad a remarketing list in the background and make a bid adjustment for people on your list. This is recommended for websites which have relatively low traffic levels.


  • Targeting, which means creating a search ad for people who have been already on your website. This means that your ads will only appear when people who have already been on your website are searching for the keywords you have chosen to bid on. This is two filters, so you might consider this strategy only for a special promotion or message to encourage your audience to convert. Also, it might be difficult to use if your lists are not very big, or you are bidding no very niche keywords.


Remarketing for Search and Remarketing for Display


The term remarketing might be confusing for marketers. Most of us are used to think of remarketing as banner ads or YouTube ads showing after you have visited an online shoe store, desperately trying to get you buy those heels.

This is not the case with remarketing for search. In order users on your remarketing list to see the ads, they must be still actively searching for queries related to your keywords.


The Dynamics of Remarketing for Search


For example, you are marketing a studio in aerial yoga. Debbie comes to your website from a Facebook ad you showed to all women in London interested in alternative gym classes. She comes to your webpage, but does not take an action to book a class. However, you have set up your website to collect cookies with Google Analytics. All users coming to this page about aerial yoga, but have not converted are gathered in a remarketing list. Later this week Debbie remembers seeing aerial yoga class ad and decides to search for this keyword on Google. This is when miraculously your ad appears on the top of the search results.


Why You Should Use Remarketing for Search?


Remarketing is a great way to appear to people who already know you and are likely to convert. Using it with search is a great way to show to relevant audience while they are searching for your service.


With display remarketing you show to all people who have been on your website while they are browsing another platform. You are never sure if they might have bought already from a competitor, or came across your website by accident. You might be even remarketing to your employees, or a journalist doing research for you.


With remarketing for search you only show your ad when users on your list are searching for your keywords on Google. This shows stronger buying intention, commercial interest and increases possibilities of a conversion.


Strategies to Use with Remarketing for Search

Customer Lists.


Google allows you to upload a list of the emails of your current customers and target them on search as a remarketing list. The emails must have been collected with the consent of the users and be only first party data, i.e. collected by you. Then once these users log in their Google account and do searches your ads will show to them. This is a great way of offering something which is only available for current customers. For example, if you are remarketing a group of users who bought sports shoes from you, you might be able to offer.

Bidding on Competitors’ Names


Bidding on competitors’ names can be expensive and result in bad quality score. However, if you are only bidding on competitors’ names when people who have been on your website search for them, you are entering in a very important auction. This means you are showing in front of people who are considering your business as one of the options. Since your audience will be smaller and interested, you can get better outcomes compared to when you bid on competitors’ names for everyone else.

Exclude Remarketing Lists


This might be the case if you are offering a product which can be bought only once. It is worth then taking out list of recent buyers to save money from irrelevant clicks. Products like university programs can only be sold once. It is worth taking the enrolled students out of your targeting to save money from students clicking on your ads while trying to find their next lecture time.


Making RLSA Bid Adjustments


As I mentioned before, you can user RLSA in targeting mode – only bidding for users who have been on your website, or in observation mode to increase bids when users from the list are searching.


In the first scenario, you must make sure that Google understands whether the audience list is of value to you. If your campaigns are using a manual bidding strategy like CPC or Enhanced CPC, then you must make a bid adjustment for your RLSA list. If there is no bid adjustment, then there is no difference whether you have a remarketing list or not – Google will bid according to your strategy for all users. To make an adjustment in the new interface, go in the campaign you want to edit and choose Audiences in the lower left corner. Then you can make an adjustment with different percentage for each one of them.

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If you are already using a smart bidding strategy like Target CPA or Target ROAS, there is no need to make any bid adjustments. The automation will take over and make the adjustments whenever people from your list are searching. The more data you provide for the algorithm to learn the better. This means not only a solid history of conversions in the account, but also remarketing lists, customer email uploads and similar audiences.

Similar Audiences for Search



Remarketing lists generate similar audiences automatically within a few days in the account. These are audiences of new users who have similar interests and online behaviour to the ones visiting your website. Whenever they are looking for your keywords, this shows a double interest match. You must take advantage of these audiences and add them as RLSA in your campaigns. You can either make bid adjustments for them or let your smart bidding system to take care of them.