How To Use RLSA To Help Increase High Quality Leads

While Remarketing Lists in Search Ads (RLSA) have been out for a while, it’s still a very powerful – yet underutilized – function in Google AdWords.  By using RLSA for your AdWords accounts, you have the potential to increase the amount of high quality leads by increasing reach and frequency with users who have engaged on your site but did not convert.


Statistically speaking, 96% of site visitors don’t convert or make a purchase on the first visit to the site; however, these visitors do signal intent as they have still interacted with the site.

Stated simply, people who are more familiar with your brand are more likely to convert or purchase, so you should make sure your ads are there to show when these past visitors are ready to make that action.

Let’s take a look at how RLSA can be used as a catalyst for paid search ad conversions.

Essentially, RLSA allows you to collect data to get a better insight on defining the audience most likely to buy your product.  Because RLSA allows you to customize your bids, search ads, and keywords based on your visitors’ past activity on your website, you’re able to target audiences and not merely keywords.

How RLSA Works

Like traditional remarketing in the Google Display Network, you will be using the same piece of code (remarketing tag), enabling your ads to show for your past site visitor targets.

Now, the difference with RLSA, is that ads are triggered by keywords searches, so they have the ability to be much more relevant to your target audience as with traditional remarketing campaigns.

target audience

3 Steps to Get Started:

1. Set Up Remarketing Tags: As stated above, RLSA and remarketing in display use the same piece of tracking code. To get started you should create this tag in AdWords and apply the code to all active pages on the site.

2. Create Remarketing Lists: Once the remarketing code is in place across the site landing pages, the next step should be to create lists or buckets specific to the goals you want to define. For example, if the goal is to reach customers who have been to the site but did not convert, you should create a list using “all visitors” and then create a rule that excludes visitors who have been to a confirmation page.

3. Set Up Campaign Structure: This can be set up pretty similar to how you would set up a regular Paid search campaign, however you will now be linking you remarketing lists and Bid/Target strategy based on the search goals.

Best Practices

There are a few best practices that are advised to follow when launching an RLSA campaign, although they are dependent on the audience you want to target.

Define Audience

Google recommends that you define you audience in one of three ways. You do this by creating custom remarketing lists from really broad or really narrow targets.

remarketing list


With RLSA, there are two bid options that you can use:

Bid Only: This option tends to be pretty broad in terms of targeting as it includes not only your defined audience, but also everyone else searching for the keyword targets that you have created, whether they are a prior visitor or not. Additionally, this option lets you apply your audience list on pre-existing ad groups and apply bid adjustment to modify the position of your current ads.

The beauty with this bid option, is that you can overlay this setting across your current campaigns at an adjustment setting of +0%. By doing this, you will not affect anything in your campaigns, but you will be able to record and compile data revealing the campaigns and ad groups where your audience is returning to and converting. You also have the option to make bid adjustments which gives the ability to raise ad position to the return visitor audience.

Target and Bid: This narrower option is what is recommended by Google to use (it is also the default setting), and targets ONLY to your defined audience searching for your keyword targets. This option allows you to set up separate ad group targets, keywords, and ads in which you can target your audience with.

This bid option gives you the ability to customize search preferences based on the audiences you want to target, ensuring that your ads show at a higher position that can increase the probability of them converting. The advantage of using this bid option is you have the ability to create custom ads with specific calls-to-action that are targeted to your audience, but further down the purchase funnel.

keyword searches

Keyword Targeting

Since the goal of RLSA is to reach a high intent audience, it is advised by Google to use broader keywords and match types, as they will expand reach and have the chance to have a bigger impact.

A tactic you can consider trying is creating an RLSA campaign and mirroring your highly competitive exact/phrase match keywords in broad, set bid adjustment to +100% for a top ad spot, and then optimize accordingly. While it is usually advised to no longer use broad match in traditional paid search campaigns, the reason that broader targeting should be used for RLSA is that it will be more effective since it deals with a more qualified audience.

Custom Ads

The primary goal of RLSA is to increase your reach with highly qualified potential customers so it should be a best practice to look into creating custom tailored ad copy that relays call-to-action messaging and drives to landing pages that push audiences farther down the purchase funnel.

As an example, let’s say a past visitor had visited your site and signed up for a ‘free demo’. The next logical step as an advertiser would be to now try and sell that product, so you should now tailor your ads further down the funnel with the call-to-action ‘buy now’.


RLSA is a powerful yet simple way to increase conversion actions from past visitors and potentially increase ROAS. While site visitors usually have different intentions on your site, RLSA gives you the ability to shorten the path to purchase and increase brand recognition. In addition, it helps keep your brand at the top ad position of searches for qualified potential customers.

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