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Paid advertising, SEO

Using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

5 July 2016
Using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads | Neon

Google’s paid search results have been through quite some changes so far this year. With the removal of the right-hand listing on desktop SERPs and the changes to the PPC ad format, not to mention the impending ad format changes, getting your ads in the search results is becoming increasingly challenging.

In this article, we will explore an often overlooked PPC strategy: using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, to drive conversions and revenue for those searchers who have visited your site before by adjusting bids for keywords and showing the correct ads to visitors who are most likely to convert.

What are Remarketing Lists for Search Ads?

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads in a nutshell, is a feature in Google AdWords that allows you to show Search ads to those searchers who have visited your site before. Similar to remarketing ads featured on the Display Network, you start off with collecting the data of people who have visited your site which are recorded in a remarketing list. A remarketing tag needs to be added to your site to collect the data. This should be a site-wide tag to start off with. For Google Search, the default duration of a visitor staying in your list is 30 days. This should be adjusted based on your products/ services lifecycle.

Next steps

The next step is to segment your list of high-value visitors i.e. visitors who based on their behaviour are showing interest to purchase. By creating custom remarketing lists based on specific visitor behaviour, you can accurately target a specific group of people by showing them an optimised ad specific to their needs with the aim to get them to click on your ad and ultimately convert. This is done by applying rules to your remarketing list. For example, you can target visitors who have visited a specific product page which is on offer as part of your seasonal campaign but haven’t purchased.

(NB: These remarketing lists can be used for ads on both the Search Network and the Google Display Network)

Optimising your campaign

Once you have your remarketing lists set up and you have sufficient visitor data collected, then you can start optimising your campaigns to effectively target these groups of visitors. There are three effective ways to optimise your campaigns:

  • Adjusting bids by keywords
  • Customising ad copy
  • Adding keywords

Let’s take the example of an online gift store who wants to increase its sales for Mother’s Day. In addition to the normal gift keywords, additional keywords that include Mother’s Day in combination with gifts can be added, and bids can be increased for those keywords to drive traffic to the Mother’s Day landing page. Bids could also be increased targeting visitors who have visited the Mother’s day gift page but haven’t yet purchased.
You can also tailor the messaging in your ads to match the needs of the searcher based on previous visitor behaviour. For example, for a beauty retailer selling sun protection, you can show ads to people that have visited the holiday section of the site but haven’t purchased and remind them to buy their sun protection for their upcoming sun holiday which is now on offer.


Google’s changes to the SERPs means that we need to be smarter in how we optimise our campaigns and not just rely on increasing bids to outbid our competitors, to appear in the top 3 position in the SERPs. Remarketing for Search is a great way to target those high-value visitors who have already shown through their behaviour that they have a great interest and/or intent to purchase but have not done so yet. As illustrated in this article, it requires some initial planning in setting up your customer segments but is fairly simple and straightforward to set-up and start running these campaigns. The bonus is that not only is it very effective in driving conversions and increasing the ROAS, it also gives great first hand insights about your customers.

If you want to get started with remarketing campaigns, why not get in touch with our Search team to find out how we can help.

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