If you’re using Google AdWords search ads without RLSA, then you’re missing out on a big opportunity to improve your advertising performance.


What Is RLSA?

RLSA is simply an acronym for Retargeting Lists for Search Ads.  It’s Google’s fancy terminology for retargeting in the search network.

In case that didn’t make sense, let’s take a step back…


What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting is displaying ads to prospects that have already visited your website.  When set up correctly, retargeting is a highly effective tactic because your ads are laser-targeted to prospects who have already expressed interest in your product or service.  This is nothing new and you’re probably already familiar with retargeting ads online.

(For more information, read the benefits and the 3 types of retargeting to get up to speed.)

Retargeting ads are most often seen “following you” around as you surf from website to website.  Those are Display network ads.

But did you know that many of the text ads you see when searching in Google.com are also retargeting ads?  It’s not as easy to spot these ads and that’s why many businesses are not too familiar with them…


How Does RLSA Work?

RLSA works just like the retargeting we’re all familiar with, but instead of showing ads on other websites in the Display network, we’re going to show ads in the Search network when prospects are searching in Google.

Picture all of the prospects who have visited your website recently who did not take action to make a purchase or contact you for whatever reason.  They may have been interrupted, needed to do some more research, or just couldn’t make up their mind at that moment when they were on your site.

Now picture those same prospects sitting down at their computer (or their tablet or mobile device) to finally pull the trigger and make a decision.

Most likely they don’t remember your website URL so they turn to Google to search for your product or service.  Remember, these prospects already know your brand and have already expressed interest by visiting your website.

That means you may want to bid more aggressively to show your ad in the top position to get more clicks.  Plus, you could present a different, more compelling offer in your ad because you know these prospects did not take advantage of your first offer.  That’s all possible now using using RLSA in AdWords!


RLSA Bidding & Targeting Options

Before you get started with RLSA it’s important to understand the two bidding and targeting options available.

  1. Bid Only
  2. Bid and Targeting


Bid Only

Bid Only is the best option when you’re just getting started.  In fact, you can set this up with absolutely no risk because all you’re going to do is add an AdWords Remarketing List to your Search campaign.  By simply adding a Remarketing list, nothing changes except you have the ability to adjust the bid for each list you add.

For example, if you added a Remarketing list that included all website visitors that made it to your final checkout page, but did not order, then you could now increase your bids for these prospects in your Search campaign.

I said there’s no risk because you can actually set this up with no bid adjustment (without raising your bids).

In that case, you can monitor performance over time to see how your different Remarketing lists perform in your Search campaign. If you see that prospects in your Remarketing lists are in fact converting in Search, then you can adjust your bids accordingly (i.e., raise your bids for Search retargeting).


Bid and Targeting

Warning: Do not add RLSA with Bid and Targeting to an existing Search campaign!

If you do, then your impressions and clicks will go down the drain because instead of targeting everyone who searches, you’re limiting your campaign to only target prospects in your Remarketing list.

Did that make sense?

When you set up RLSA with Bid and Targeting, then you’re telling AdWords you want to only show your ads to the prospects already in your Remarketing lists.  This isn’t necessarily bad.  It’s just important to know that you do not want to do this to an existing Search campaign.  Instead, you’ll want to set up a completely new campaign for this type of RLSA.

The reason this can be a good option is because it allows you to be more aggressive in your keyword targeting and your ad copy.  For example, certain keywords may not be profitable when you’re targeting everyone who searches, but when you’re limiting your targeting to just the prospects in your Remarketing list, then those same keywords may make sense.

And as mentioned earlier, if you set up a new RLSA campaign using Bid and Targeting, then you can test different ads and offers exclusively to prospects that have already visited your website.


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