Search remarketing has soared since its initial launch not long ago. It takes display remarketing to a new level, allowing businesses to personalize the remarketing experience without appearing to be stalkers.

In display remarketing, ads are shown to prior site visitors, even when they are on other sites and not looking for anything related to the ad. In search remarketing, however, your ads are shown to prior site visitors only when they search for similar products or services — when something similar to what you offer is actively on their minds. This approach is less invasive, precisely targeted and more effective.

Here’s how to set up search remarketing.

Step #1: Code Your Site

Using Google Analytics, install remarketing code on your website. This code will trigger the display of your ads. In Google Analytics, under a specific property, go to Remarketing and drill down to Audiences. Follow the instructions. The first step will be linking your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account, if you have not already done so.

retargetingStep #2: Determine and Create Your Audiences

In this step you’ll make some choices. You could choose to target all site visitors as one audience. This will result in you potentially remarketing to anyone who comes to your site. This can be appropriate in some cases, but you may wish to consider identifying multiple audiences, based upon where visitors went on your site.

For example, if you sell auto parts, one of your remarketing audiences could be people who viewed car seat covers, and another could be people who viewed paint. This segmentation will allow you to show more relevant ads, which will likely result in a better conversion rate.

Step #3: Identify Your Cookie Period

To be eligible for search remarketing in Google AdWords, you must have a minimum of 1,000 visitors in 540 days. Your campaign will only begin to provide results once your audience size has reached 1,000. Check your Google Analytics data to determine your visitor rate, and set your cookie period long enough that you will have at least 1,000 visitors in that period. 540 days is the maximum. This is a good time to create a few more lists with different periods, which you may want to use in the future.

Step #4: Choose Your Keywords

Here you begin to see the beauty and power of search remarketing. Because your audience is limited to people who have already been to your site, you can choose keywords much more broadly than you would in your ordinary PPC search campaigns. Of course, you can select multiple keywords for a particular audience or ad.

For example, a shoe company may find the keyword “running shoes” unprofitable in its regular search campaigns. But the same company could make good use of this keyword in a remarketing campaign, by using it with an audience of visitors who have viewed running shoes at its site. And the keyword “shoes,” which may be much too broad for ordinary search campaigns, could be effective in search remarketing, because the audience is already narrowed.


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Step #5: Choose or Create Ads

You can choose ads from other campaigns to use in your remarketing. Or you may want to exploit the fact that the people viewing your remarketing ads already have some familiarity with your company, by creating more personal, more targeted ads. You will likely want different ads for different audiences or different search terms.

Beyond this, everything you know about writing effective text ads applies here.

Step #6: Map Audiences to Campaigns

If you haven’t already, be sure to apply audiences to your search remarketing campaigns. Go to Audiences in AdWords and apply whichever audiences are relevant to a particular search remarketing campaign. As in ordinary search campaigns, ad groups within your remarketing campaigns contain the keywords which will trigger ads – but in this case, just for your audiences.

Step #7: Set Your Bids

Because your search remarketing ads are by nature more targeted, your bids should be higher than bids in your normal AdWords search campaigns. In general, the more targeted your combination of keyword, audience, and ad, the higher your bid.

You can also take advantage of conversion-based automated bid strategies, using the Conversion Optimizer to target cost per acquisition (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS).

data-scientistStep #8: Be a Scientist

It’s time to make your grade school science teacher proud. Internet marketing is a scientific process in which we gather data to test hypotheses. Evaluating results is critical to your success.

(Again, you won’t see any results until your audience reaches 1,000 people.)

Keep a close eye on your analytics and make appropriate adjustments along the way. Where nothing is happening, you may want to back off. Where you’re getting traction, raise your game – as you would in digital marketing generally, not just search remarketing.

Building Relationships

Search remarketing can keep you and your products in front of your prospects. What you’re doing is building relationships – and relationships grow with regular contact. Build those relationships enough, and prospects become customers.


cody-jensenCody Jensen began his career with the corporate giant, Google Inc. He has been in Search Engine Marketing ever since, and has a specific acumen for paid advertising. Cody now leads 180fusion’s strategy in providing world class digital fulfillment to traditional agencies, printers, and aggregators.