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Remarketing Lists For Search Ads

Remarketing lists for search ads

Recent figures suggest that only 2-4% of visits to a site result in a transaction – but a customer’s final decision to buy typically involves many related searches and site visits before they commit to a purchase.

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a feature that will optimise your search campaigns for people who have previously visited your website. This is achieved by tailoring and customising your search ads to these visitors while they search on Google for items you sell.


A visitor leaves your website without making a purchase – RLSA will reconnect you with that potential customer while they continue searching on Google.

This is achieved using two basic strategies:

  • By bidding on generic keywords you don’t typically bid on for visitors who recently visited your site, or for those who made a purchase (converted) on your site previously. This can help increase sales only for those who have bought from you before.
  • By optimising bids on existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists. For instance, increasing a bid by 25% for people who have visited in the last 30 days or by displaying an ad only to visitors who placed an item into a shopping basket but didn’t check out.

How does it work?

To use RLSA you begin with a remarketing list to which you add a remarketing tag. This tag can be added to every page on your site. This tag will tell Google AdWords to add every person who visits your site to your remarketing list i.e. the cookies associated with the visitor’s browser are added to the list.

These lists can then be added to an ad group with keywords, bids and tailored ads for those customers on the list. The customised ads will then display to those people who visited your site while they search on Google later, but won’t display to people who are not on the list.

N.B. A remarketing list require a minimum of 1,000 cookies in order for the list to be used to tailor your search ads.

Successful remarketing lists for search ads:

  • Optimised Bids – A used-car parts reseller created a remarketing list for visitors who had previously visited their homepage and a list for visitors who had searched for a particular car model. They raised their keyword bids for the homepage visitors and for those who searched. The result – Total Sales up 22%, conversions up 163%.
  • Broadening Keywords – A holiday company wanted to increase revenue from gifts. Ordinarily broad keywords such as ‘present’ and ‘gift’ would not be profitable. By using remarketing lists for search ads for customers who had purchased the year before, the results were +300% for conversions, and a Return on Investment increase of 30%.
  • Customised Ads – A telecommunications provider of TV, phone and Broadband services set up three remarketing lists for visitors expressing interest in each service category. The lists then delivered customised search ads which reflected the visitor’s previous interest. This resulted in a decrease in costs per order of 66%, and a large uplift in search campaign ROI.

Targeting made easy

Once the site-wide tag has been implemented across your site it’s easy to segment site visitors into lists which can be used for search campaigns in AdWords and/or display campaigns across the Google Display Network.

Remarketing lists for search ads can offer advertisers with a powerful tool for maximising return on investment for search campaigns.

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