How to Create Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

Combine the high intent of search with the high conversion rates of remarketing 

Remarketing lists for search ads are one of the more underutilized ad formats, but they can be an enormous asset to your campaigns. 

Your customers’ conversion/purchase journeys aren’t always straightforward. They may browse your homepage and get distracted, or leave because they aren’t interested in converting at the present time, or for any number of reasons. However, you can increase the likelihood of a conversion if you are able to somehow place your brand in front of these wayward users as they browse the internet (maybe searching for related products or services). 

This is where remarketing lists for search ads come in handy. Rather than trying to remarket through the display network, RLSA’s allow you to customize your search campaigns for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your ads to these visitors when they are searching on Google or Google Search Partner sites. 

Remarketing through search has an advantage over display because people searching for something have higher intent. Think of it this way; someone may be scrolling through a website, but there is no guarantee they are wanting to purchase a product or service at that time. Your display ads may help increase brand awareness, and are still useful (if they are on a related website, your display ad may encourage them to convert in the future), but they may not directly increase conversions.

However, if someone is searching for something, they either want more information about that specific product/service or they are actively looking to convert right at that time. When you can remind users who have previously interacted with your brand you are still a good option, and present yourself as an answer to their search right at the time they are searching, you are much more likely to get them to convert. 

It’s effective.

Let’s look at the practical steps you have to take to implement RSLAs in your campaigns.  

Step 1: Navigate to the “Tools” Icon and Click “Audience Manager”


 This allows you to see all of your current audiences, those that you have created or that Google has created automatically. 

Step 2: Create an Audience 


a. Click on the blue “+” icon and then “Website Visitors”. 

b. Give your audience a name, something distinguishable so you can easily locate it later (maybe “Test RSLA” or something of that nature). 


Step 3: Select List Members

Choose who you want your campaign to target. You have a few different options here, and you can A/B test these options based on your current data…remember, you are trying to reach visitors who did not convert (prospect for new customers).

Step 4: Designate a Page/Pages 

Include the page that your target audience would have visited (at this point, your Google Analytics data could help you determine your most effective strategy). For example, if you enter “/home”, you would create a segment of people that visited the home page. You have the option to add multiple pages, so if you enter “/home” and “/checkout”, you can create a segment of people that visited both the home and checkout pages. 

Step 5: Choose Initial List Size

If your site has been running and you have your remarketing tag in place, you can choose to have your list automatically populate with people (that meet the criteria you’ve just chosen) who have visited your site within the last 30 days. You also have the option of starting with an empty list. 

Step 6: Specify Membership Duration

 This is the step where you can define how long you want your users to stay in this list. You can A/B test different options to see which time window performs best. The maximum amount of time a user can stay on your list is 540 days. When you’re finished, hit “Create Audience”. 

Step 7: Navigate to the Campaign

Now, you’ll leave your lists alone for a moment and click into the campaign you want to add your RSLA to. 

Step 8: Click on the “Audiences” Tab

Once you are in the campaign, click on the Audiences tab, and then hit either the “+Audiences” button or the pencil icon (both have the same function). 

Step 9: Edit Audiences

You can decide whether you want to add your RSLA to the campaign level or to the ad group level.  You also have a choice of what targeting method to run: “Targeting” will only target the people in your list, while “Observation” will allow you to bid ajust to broaden the reach. If you want more traffic, select “Observation”. Then choose “How they have interacted with your business (remarketing and similar audiences) from the three audience types provided.  

Step 10: Refine Audience

Choose “Website visitors”. From there, you have options of who you want to target (All Users, All Visitors, etc.) Pick your desired audience and then hit save. 

Step 11: Make Bid Adjustments

If the people in your list are high intent customers (for example, they visited the cart page but they didn’t check out), you can adjust the bids to be higher. Let’s say you enter “+20%” as a bid adjustment for your “All Visitors” audience. When Google’s auction system is determining how to serve search results to someone in that audience, your bids will be raised by 20%, and you will likely be placed in a more prominent position. 

Congratulations, you’ve successfully implemented a remarketing list for search in your campaigns! 

A Step Further: Want to create an RSLA-only campaign?

While we do not recommend this option unless you have unusually high traffic, there is a way to do this! You can watch our complete tutorial on remarketing lists for search ads on our YouTube channel. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or want to see how we can do this, and much more, for you!