How to use Adwords RLSA – Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

Remarketing for Search (RLSA, or Remarketing Lists of Search Ads) allows advertisers to retarget your past website visitors as they search in Google. If you don’t know much about search remarketing and want to find out more, you’re in the right place. We have a guide that’ll cover all of the important things, tell you what you need to know about it and reveal what the benefits of using this remarketing method are. Keep reading to learn more. 

Remarketing lists for search ads can target past site users with different bids, ad copy, and landing pages. When businesses want to get the most out of the PPC advertising campaigns, there are numerous steps they can take. One of them is using AdWords search remarketing. It’s a powerful marketing strategy that many businesses are turning to and finding success with and there are numerous reasons for that. 

Search remarketing begins when the first marketing interaction and the data about the customer is then used to reach out to them again. It means that targeted ads are shown to people who have visited your site or shown an interest in your brand before. In the simplest form, it’s when a customer heads to your site, leaves without making a purchase and is then targeted with more ads on search engine results to encourage them to return. Learn how your prospects and customers search in Google after they have been to your site, and improve how your retarget them. 

Remarketing Audiences for RLSA Search

How Does Remarketing Work?

When a person finds your website, usually via a search engine, they might look around and find out a bit about you. The actions they take on your website are logged, and when they eventually leave your website without making a purchase, they can be targeted with ads after they leave. This is possible because their data is tracked. They’ll see those ads, be reminded of your brand and possibly tempted back.

The name Google gives to its search remarketing service is Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RSLA). It just means that when you retarget people, the ads they see will be displayed on Google search results pages. You can use a remarketing tag to create remarketing lists.

In short, it’s about adding previous visitors to lists so that you can target them with search engine results page ads on Google and tempt them back to your store in the hope of selling to them if that didn’t happen last time they were there. You can bid for keywords that are relevant to your brand and what you’re trying to sell on your site.

How Information is Tracked

The tracking of this customer information is done with the use of cookies. This means that their clicks on the site are tracked and that information is then used to assist with targeting or retargeting efforts later on. The law says website owners need to notify users when they’re using cookies but they’re not obligated to get permission.

Website Users Remarketing Search Remarketing

The Benefits of Search Remarketing

Search marketing helps you improve your advertising efforts in many ways including:

Reach the People Most Likely to Buy

Targeting people can sometimes feel like playing darts in the dark. You’ll have some success but a lot of times you’ll be wide of the mark. There’s less chance of that when you use AdWords search remarketing though because you’re targeting people who have already shown an interest in your brand or products. This means they’re more likely to want to buy before you even target them.

Create Ads with Highly Targeted Messages

Because you’re targeting people using specific information about what they’ve browsed on your website, lists can be created. You can then use different ads for targeting different groups of people depending on which list they’re on. So, you could have a list of people who viewed one product and you can then create ads that emphasise that product and draw them back to your site.

Wide Reach

Google is obviously an online giant and using AdWords means your reach can be huge. Google is the world’s biggest search engine so having your ads target people via its results pages is huge. You’ll reach so many people and they’ll all have an existing interest in your brand in some way. Increase qualified search engine traffic or improve profitability.

Simplicity for Advertisers

The Google AdWords program is very easy to use and there are so many great ad-making tools afforded by the platform that advertisers will have no trouble getting started. It’s very easy and you have a high level of control over the ads you create when you use it. Google wants the process to be as straightforward as it can be, so don’t worry about a steep learning curve because there isn’t one.

Capitalise on Brand Awareness

RLSA lets you turn your existing search campaigns into brand campaigns. More often than not, past website users have a higher conversion rate than new users. An RLSA bid modifier can use conversion metrics to adjust bids in the same way as location and device bid modifiers. 

Leverage your company brand to increase revenue or improve profitability by using a “brand” bid modifier.

Plenty of Stats and Analytics

Finally, there are lots of great analytics tools and campaign stats at your fingertips from the moment you start using Google AdWords. You can track and measure the success of each of your remarketing campaigns, so you can find out whether your methods are working for you or whether things need to be changed to enhance outcomes going forward.

Adwords RLSA- Remarketing for Search Ideas, Uses & Techniques.​

Bid Optimisation
  • Attach remarketing lists to “existing search” campaigns. (Standard Search, Shopping and DSA).
  • Select Bid Only as the targeting setting. This will show ads to both people that have been to your website before, as well as those that have not.
  • Segment previous site users into audiences based on levels of engagement or/and recency since last visit- for advanced ROI bidding.
  • Audience lists bid modifier adjustments to the original keyword bid in the same way as location and devices bids.
Wider Keyword Targeting
  • Use wider keywords that you don’t usually bid on, but just for people who have recently visited your website.
  • Create “new” search campaigns just for these keywords.
  • Select Target and Bid as the targeting setting. This will show ads only to people that have been to your website in the past. (up to 540 days).
  • Create dedicated remarketing campaigns (or ad groups) for RLSA only.
  • Show a different ad to site visitors who have viewed a certain page or based on average visitor session.
Adverts for past website Users
  • Ad Copy adjustments
  • Show a different ad to site visitors who have viewed a certain page or based on average visitor session
  • Ad Copy adjustments

Bid Only Vs Target and Bid

Advertisers can retarget past website visitors when they search in Google using standard Adwords search text ad campaigns, as well as Google Shopping and DSA (Dynamic Search Ads). RLSA can retarget past website visitors from all online traffic sources as they search in Google.

Audience minimum size restrictions

  • Google Display Remarketing lists require 100+ unique past site users to become active and can be active for up to 540 days.
  • On Google search, audiences sizes have to be 1000+  unique past site users and can be active for up to 280 days.
  • The default audience duration in Adwords is 30 days, therefore website that gets less than 1000 unique users per month- need to do the maths and create audiences that much longer than 30 days. Web sites that get lots of traffic can have RLSA audiences with duration since last visits that are less than 30 days.

Display Remarketing Options

Learn more about Display remarketing, check out our Ultimate Guide to Google Display Remarketing

Dynamic Remarketing

Dynamic remarketing allows you to target people who left your site without buying but it also helps you to upsell by targeting people who have already bought from your website. It also works with your mobile app, which is obviously important as many online stores now use apps to sell to people too.

Standard Remarketing

As the name suggests, this is the standard type of remarketing offered by Google Adwords. The targeted ads that are put out there are shown across the Google Display Network. There aren’t as many features and options when you go for the basic option, but it is affordable and very easy to use.

Video Remarketing

If you choose to use video remarketing, your ads will target people after they have interacted with your YouTube channel. This obviously won’t be suited to everyone’s needs but it is an option worth considering if you have a Youtube channel that you’re trying to grow. 


AdWords search remarketing holds great potential for many advertisers and businesses, so you should definitely implement these ideas if you think you might benefit from them. If you’re looking to improve your marketing methods and the outcomes that flow from them, search remarketing could be one way to help you do that.

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