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How Does Google Ads Generate Responsive Search Ads?

google ads

One of the first things you should learn about Google Ads is the different types of ads you can create and how they work. 

We suggest learning about Responsive Search Ads before any others as it appears that Google is pushing the use of AI and certain ad types may eventually be phased out in favor of RSA ads. 

Below, we explain what RSA ads are, how they are generated, and their pros and cons so you can see if they are suitable for your business’s PPC campaign.

What is a Responsive Search Ad (RSA)?

  • A Responsive Search Ad in Google Ads is one that has numerous potential iterations including the ad title, copy, and headlines. 
  • The idea is that the various data you input is then utilized to create the best possible version of the ad depending on who is viewing it. This should theoretically lead to more conversions and a higher ROI. 
  • RSA is now the default Ad type in Google Ads and it is not possible to create ETAs anymore (Expanded Text Ads) which were the most common type. You can see why it is important to understand how these ads are created and their benefits – out of necessity.

What Google Does to Generate RSAs

The first step in generating an RSA Google Ad is to make the ad copy variations. You can enter up to 15 different Ad headlines and 4 different Ad descriptions. These should all have the same underlying theme and purpose, but you can vary the word order, words used, and keyword placement for example. 

Google then uses complex AI algorithms to select up to 3 headlines and 2 descriptions at once to generate the best version of the Ad. The different text order can result in the creation of multiple ad variations which is great for testing. 

Aside from selecting the ad copy, the AI also tests the combinations to see which should yield the best results based on the wealth of data it has stored. It will then select the best ad versions and prioritize these for placement and bidding.

Should Your Business Use Responsive Search Ads?

Google Responsive Search Ads can be hugely beneficial when used correctly and they have many positives. A PPC management marketing agency will be able to help you generate the copy variations to create effective RSAs but you need to understand their pros and cons too: 


– Brilliant content variety: Did you know that if you enter the full 4 descriptions and 15 headlines that they can be sorted into over 40,000 unique variations? That’s a hell of a lot of ad potential! To put it short, Google RSAs offer amazing variety and the sheer volume of permutations allows you to do extensive testing to find what works and what doesn’t without having to completely re-design that ads from scratch each time. 

– Excellent optimization: Google AI does most of the work for you and because it is analyzing its own statistics and metrics you get better-optimized ads for your target customers. A business simply wouldn’t be able to do what the AI does in the same amount of time for as little a cost. 

– Quicker process: The creation process for RSAs is undoubtedly quicker and it only takes a few minutes to create the ads. The slowest part is writing the different headlines and descriptions. You can enter as few as 3 headings and descriptions which shortens the time even more, but we do recommend using more permutations to get the most out of the AI selection process. The more you can give the AI, the better end results you should see. 


– Less overall control: Because the headlines and descriptions are automatically generated using AI, you do not have full control. Depending on your business, customers, and products, this could be a drawback and you may need to use a different ad type that is better suited for your business. 

– Similarity to the competition: The fact that you don’t get to see the final version of the ad can be disconcerting and the end result can be quite similar to your competitor’s ads. This may mean that your ads do not stand out. You can tackle this and regain some control with the headlines and descriptions you use. They must be creative, unique, and engaging, and then Google AI has more to work with to produce ads that stand out.

How to Create a Responsive Search Ad on Your Google Ads Console

With the pros and cons in mind and a firm understanding of what RSAs have to offer you need to know how to create them. As mentioned, RSAs are the default ad type but you still have to manually create them using the following steps: 

1. Select “Ads & Extensions” from the left menu of your Google Ads account. 

2. Click on the plus button and select “Responsive Search Ad”. 

3. Enter the final URL and display path. 

4. Enter the headlines and descriptions. 

5. Save the new Ad. 

As you can see this is a really simple process and the technical side of it is quite easy – Google does most of the work for you. The difficult part is writing the headline and description variations. You can pin descriptions and headlines if you want them to be in every ad variation and this is useful if you need legal terms in your ads for example.

Learn How to Use RSAs Now for Future-Proofing

Learn How to Use RSAs Now for Future-ProofingIt is clear that Google will continue to use AI to improve Google Ads and give you more personalization and better targeting for your Ads. This is all fine and only beneficial for us, but it means that you have to stay up to date with the latest Ad types and make sure you understand how to get the best results. 

RSAs are the default ad type, but you should really look at how to create effective heading and text variations and remember that the text variations must be able to stand on their own and be used with any combination of text and descriptions.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.