The Ultimate Guide To Adwords Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Googles dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) Is a way for advertisers to customise adverts to match the specific keyword that triggered the advert. The tool allows you to insert the keyword which is the closest match to what the user searched for into your advert by inserting a piece of code into your text advert.

Here is an example that is given by Google: let’s say you’re running a campaign to advertise your candy store and you have an ad group that promotes your chocolate candy products.

The snippet of code that you’ll insert in your ad text might look like the following:{KeyWord:Chocolate}. Doing this means that when a keyword can’t be inserted in your ad, we’ll insert Chocolate instead.

When a customer uses one of your keywords in their search, the piece of code in your adverts will be replace by the keyword which triggered your advert.

The feature allows you to create on advert and it will appear differently for different searchers, depending on what they have searched for. This will make your adverts appear more relevant and useful to the searcher.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion Examples

Adwords also gives three dynamic keyword insertion examples to help you visualise what your adverts will look like when users search for different terms. If your website sells chocolate for example you may want to use the dynamic keyword insertion in the headline of your advert.

Here the headline of the advert will read Buy {keyword:Chocolate}. When the advert is triggered {keyword:Chocolate} will be replaced by the keyword in your ads group that triggered your advert.

In the two examples below you will be able to see that {keyword:chocolate} has been replaced in the first example by ‘Dark chocolate bar’ and in the second by ‘sugar free chocolate’.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 22.28.51

In the third example however you will see that it has not been replaced. This is because by replacing {keyword:Chocolate} with ‘gourmet Chocolate truffles’ would exceed the character limit for the headline. In cases where the Character limit would be exceeded Chocolate would be inserted.

How to set up dynamic keyword insertion

Setting up keyword insertion in Adwords is quite straight forward. When you are creating your text ads you should insert {keyword:default text} where you want the search term to by dynamically inserted into your text ads.

You should replace ‘default text’ with the keywords which you would like to appear when the code can’t be replaced by a keyword.

When using dynamic keyword insertion you should take into consideration the length of your text ads so that they will stay within the character limits set by Google.

When it comes to choosing how you would like to capitalize your dynamically inserted keywords there are 5 choices:

  • If you would like to keep the dynamically inserted keywords lower case, then you should used a lower case keyword. For example ‘blue socks’
  • If you would like to capitalize the first letter of the first word if it will be the start of a sentence then you should use Keyword. For example ‘Blue socks’
  • If you would like to capitalize the first letter of every word that will be inserted then you should use KeyWord. For example ‘Blue Socks’
  • If you would like to capitalize every letter of the first word and then the first letter of every subsequent word after that your should use KEYWord. For Example ‘UK Size 5 Blue Socks’
  • If you would like to capitalize the first letter of every word and then every letter of the final word you should use KeyWORD, For example ‘Blue Socks UK’

If you are struggling to visualise this then there is a great diagram showing how this works over at visibility and conversions that you can view here.

For the vast majority of the time you will be using the third option as this provides higher Click-through rates than the first two options. The final two options will only come in useful when you are using abbreviations, as Googles policies generally do not allow you to excessively capitalize.

Does DKI Work? Dynamic keyword insertion case studies

Case Study Findings

By looking at the two case studies that were published by Wordstream and by PPC Hero the results showed that in both cases, by using dynamic keyword insertions in their adverts that it increased both the click through rate and the number of conversions that they received.  

By using dynamic keyword insertion in your adverts will see an:

  • Increase Click-through rate by 51.45% on average
  • Increase Conversion rate by 67.3% on average

Wordsteam

The first case study that I will present comes from Luke Maclean from wordstream. He ran a study with one of his clients that you can read here. The results that he saw were quite staggering.

DKI wordstream

** Image credit to Wordstream Inc

When the adverts that ran with dynamic keyword insertion were paused for 20 days they saw a

  • Decrease in the number of clicks by 48%
  • Click through rate decrease by 38%
  • Conversions dropped by 70%

Here the difference in the performance of the account was quite considerable, however as one commenter pointed out it will differ greatly depending on the how granular the account is.  The more segmented the account, the smaller the impact removing DKI will make. Here it is hard to know how segmented the account was to gauge how effective Dynamic Keyword insertion is.

There are other limitations to this case study too. The most obvious one being that the sample size was very small with just 1000 clicks from one account in one vertical.  So it is not clear whether similar results could be achieved in other verticals.

PPC Hero

The second study into dynamic keyword insertion was done by the team over at PPC Hero . In this study they compared data from 6 accounts. 3 of which were lead generation accounts and 3 which were commerce accounts

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 22.14.21

**Image credit to PPC Hero.

The results were as follows:

  • CTR were 54.9% higher with DKI for eCommerce accounts
  • Conversion rates were 37.3% higher for eCommerce accounts
  • CTR were 481.8% Higher with DKI for lead generation accounts
  • Conversion rates were 98.7% higher for lead generation accounts

Once again the results clearly showed that dynamic keyword insertion generally increased both click through rates and conversion rates. However there are some limitations to this study as there is no mention of what volume of clicks, impressions or conversions were used to calculate the data. However it does illustrate that in it DKI does work for both ecommerce and lead generation business however there is no mention of the exact verticals that the accounts were in.

I would also speculate that there is an error with respect to the figure of 481.8% increase  and that this is anomalous. This appears to be far too large in comparison to the figures from wordstream and our own proprietary data.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion Best Practices

After seeing how effective dynamic keyword insertion can be if used correctly the next part of this article will be about showing you how to use it correctly. I will show you real life examples so you can learn from what actually works, not just theory. I will also show you some of the mistakes that advertisers have made by not following best practices so you can avoid falling into these pitfalls yourself.

Mistake 1: Never use DKI with single word keywords

This is one of the key mistakes that was pointed out by Fabiola Sanchez over at White Shark Media. . If you look at the example below the advertiser has created an advert with a dynamically inserted headline, however as the ad group contains single word keywords so the headline is just a single word. This is a wasted opportunity as Google gives you 30 characters to work with.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 23.21.17

Fabiola also correctly pointed out that adverts like the one above may achieve a very high CTR as they are very generic, however as the users the advert attracts become more generic, the conversion rate will decrease.

Mistake 2: Don’t use DKI for broad match keywords

When using Dynamic keyword insertion avoid using broad match keywords as they will appear irrelevant and confusing. Which completely defeats the object of DKI which is to serve adverts that are as closely matched to what the user is searching for as possible.

You can see from the example below that when somebody has searched for Obama the advert that they have been shown is irrelevant and confusing.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 23.21.04

Dynamic keyword insertion is much harder to control with broad match keywords, as you have a lot less control of when the ads are served. So avoid using broad match keywords as in many cases like in the ones above your adverts will contain irrelevant terms.

When using DKI you should only use it in ads groups that have keywords that are either exact match or phrase match.

Mistake 3: Watch out for Trademarked Terms

One of the most costly mistakes that you can make is to use dynamic keyword insertion when you are bidding on your competitors keywords.

There have been several cases where companies have ended up inserting their competitors trademarked terms into their adverts and then found themselves in deep water for copyright infringement.

Bidding on your competitors keywords is a great way to drive targeted traffic to your website, however you should ensure that you don’t use dynamic keyword insertion in the ad groups that contain your competitors keywords.

To fix this create a separate ad group that contains your competitors keywords and don’t use DKI in this ads group.

Mistake 4: Watch out for misspellings

A common mistake that I see is advertisers displaying adverts that contain misspellings. It is a smart idea to bid in misspellings of keywords as they can drive targeted traffic usually at a reduced cost as there is less competition, however displaying adverts that have misspellings will instantly loose you credibility.  Below is a good example of where a misspelling of children has been dynamically inserted into the adverts

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 23.20.51

This mistake commonly happens when you add new keywords from your search query reports, so when you are doing this first check that the ad group that you are adding the keywords to does not have adverts with DKI.

To avoid this mistake you should create separate ads groups that contain your misspelled keywords and then avoid using DKI within these ads groups. 

Mistake 5: Don’t mix plurals and singulars

I often see DKI adverts that don’t make sense due to advertisers mixing plural and singular versions of keywords in the same ad groups. Including singular and plural versions of keywords is good practice as it allows you to drive more traffic, however if you mix them in the same ad group you will get confusing results

The most straight forwards way to get around this is to split your singular and plural versions of your keywords into two separate ads groups if you are going to use DKI. Once you have done this make sure you check that they both make sense and make any necessary alterations.

From looking at these mistakes there are four main take aways from this:

  • Only use DKI in ad groups where the keywords are at least 2-3 word phrases
  • Only use DKI in ad groups where the keywords are either exact or phrase match
  • Create a separate campaign for your competitors keywords and don’t use DKI in that one
  • Create a separate campaign for misspellings and don’t use DKI in that one
  • Create a separate campaigns for singular and plural versions of keywords

Best Practice 1: Make sure it makes sense

This is probably the most obvious point to make, but at the same time it is the one of the most important as may advertisers get this wrong. You have to remember that DKI inserts the most relevant keyword from your ad group into your advert.

So before you run DKI you need to check that if you insert any of the different keywords from that ad group into your adverts that it will make sense.

Best practice 2: DKI is not limited to headlines

This is a great point made by Arron Torrez over at white shark media. The vast majority of people who use dynamic keyword insertion limit it to just the headline of the advert, however as Arron pointed out it can and should be utilised anywhere in the advert provided that is makes sense.

The headline if the most obvious place to dynamically insert the keyword into as it is good practice when using Adwords to have the headline as the keyword that the user is searching for.

This allows you to have create an ad group with very closely themed keywords (for example, Blue Socks Uk, Cheap Blue Socks, Discounted blue Socks, Buy Blue Socks) and use a single advert instead of having to create separate ad groups and adverts for each of them.

Not only can DKI be used in the headline but it can also be used to customise the description of the adverts. However when you are inserting the keywords into the body you need to be careful to ensure that it will make sense if any of the keywords in the ad group is inserted.

If some keywords don’t make sense here the easiest solution is to create a new ad groups and place them into there.

Probably the most under used areas for DKI is in the display URL however it can be very effective when used correctly and provided Good increases in click-through rate.

This tactic will however depend highly on the length of the URL that you are advertising. If it is very long then this will not prove very effective as you only have 35 characters to work with.

Best practice 3: Create tightly themed ad groups

A key element to using DKI effectively is to have very tightly themed ads groups. The importance of this is to ensure that the adverts that are displayed are relevant and do not display irrelevant keywords.

A smart way to tightly group keywords is to use the 2 word rule that Brad Geddes introduced. The rule is very simple you should only group keywords that include at least two words of the same phrase.

Here is an example below using the two word phrase blue socks. You will see that every keyword includes this two word phrase with either words added to the end or to the beginning.

  • Blue Socks Uk
  • Cheap Blue socks
  • Buy Blue Socks
  • Discounted blue socks

By grouping your keywords very closely like this you will ensure that when they are dynamically inserted into the advert that the advert will make sense.

Best practice 4: Be consistent with capitalisation

In the how to set up dynamic keyword insertion section above I have covered the different ways in which you can capitalise the keywords that you dynamically insert into your adverts so it matches the rest of your advert. Making sure that your capitalisation is consistent makes your adverts easier to read and makes them appear credible.

Headline: if you are using dynamic keyword insertion in the headline you should use {KeyWord:default text}. This will then capitalise the first letter of every word which is good practice will help you adverts stand out.

Description: when using dynamic keyword insertion I personally use {KeyWord:default text} again which capitalises the first letter of each words as I find this generally provided the best results.

However if you prefer to keep things lower case in the description then you should use {keyword:default text} when the keyword you are inserting is inline, Ie it is not at the beginning of the sentence, which will make the keywords that are dynamically inserted all lower case.

If the keyword insertion is at the beginning of the description line then you should use {Keyword:default text} as this will capitalise the first letter of the first word and the subsequent words will be lower case.

Display URL: for the display URL use the same rules that you did for the description.

In special cases where you are using acronyms you can use the 4th and 5th rule which allow you to capitalise all the letters in the first word or all the letters in the last word.

Googles policies limit the amount of capitalisation that you can use so you must limit this to acronyms for example USA. All of the keywords in the ads groups must have the acronym at either the end or at the beginning for this to work.

For example if you are using {KEYWord:default text} which capitalises all of the first words then your ads group must look something like this so you do not get your adverts penalised.

  • UK Size 5 Blue Socks
  • UK Size 6 Blue Socks
  • UK Size 7 Blue Socks

If you had a keyword buy blue socks for example in this ad group then buy would be capitalised when it was inserted and then you would violate Adwords policies so make sure that you use the 4th and 5th capitalisation styles carefully.

Best practice 5: Pay attention to the number of characters

When using DKI you need to pay attention to the number of characters that each line of the adverts will take. The headline of the advert will take a maximum of 30 characters and the  description line will take a maximum of 80.

When you are creating adverts with DKI you need to take this into consideration as when the keywords are dynamically inserted they must not exceed these limits or the default keyword will be displayed.

Dynamic keyword insertion examples and analysis

As part of this article I wanted to share with you some of the real life campaigns that I have created for my clients and analyse them against the theory that I have given you above to show you how it works in practice.

Cheap weddings venues ads group

Keywords: [exact match] and ”phrase match”

  • [Discount wedding venues]
  • [Cheap wedding venues]
  • ”Cheapest wedding venues”
  • ”Bargain wedding venues”
  • ”low cost wedding venues”

Advert

  • Headline 1: {KeyWord:Cheap Wedding Venues}
  • Headline 2: Huge Savings On Wedding Venues
  • Description: Save up to 75% of Wedding Venues When You Book With Us.
  • Path 1. Wedding
  • Path 2. Venues

Analysis

Firstly you will notice that all of the keywords are three words long, which avoids the first common mistake of using single word keywords, and that they are also either phrase match or exact match avoiding the second mistake of using broad match.

I have included no competitor keywords nor have any misspellings so the ads will appear credible and will not violate any trademarks. Finally there is no mixture of singular and plural keywords, as all of the keywords in this ad group are plurals.

By looking at the images above of the advert in there 4 other possible combinations you will see that all of the adverts make sense. I

Throughout the advert I have kept the capitalisation consistent. You will see that the first letter of every word has been capitalised and I have used {KeyWord:default text} capitalisation style to ensure the first letter of every word that I will be dynamically inserted will also be capitalised.  

Finally I have ensured that the keywords will fit within the character limits of the headline. All of the keywords are 23 characters long so they fit within the 30 character maximum for the headline.

Dynamic keyword insertion landing pages

What is dynamic keywords insertion for landing pages?

If you would like to take dynamic keywords insertion one step further you can then insert the keyword into your landing page which is more commonly known as dynamic text replacement. By doing this helps increase relevancy between your keyword, adverts and landing page which result in increases of conversion rates.

The tool is designed to help you create highly relevant landing pages for every one of your keywords. In an ideal world you would create separate landing pages however It is almost impossible to do so when you have thousands of keywords.

This is where this tool comes in as it allows you to create a single landing page and then customise it by dynamically inserting keywords from Adwords.

For example the headline of this landing page can be dynamically changed based on the type of boiler to make the landing page match the keyword and maximise landing page experience.

With this URL: http://compareboilers.net/?kw=Gas%20Boiler&kw2=Scotland the landing page will look like this to match the keyword “Gas Boilers”

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 00.18.30

However change the final URL of the advert to http://compareboilers.net/?kw=Combi%20Boiler&kw2=Scotland and the page will look like this to match the keyword “combi boilers”.

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 00.20.57

How to set-up dynamic keyword insertion for your landing pages

The first step to setting up this tool is to tag your destination URL of your Adwords adverts. You can  do this by adding ?kw={keyword} to the end of every one of your display URLs. Once you have done this Adwords and Microsoft ads centre will dynamically insert the keywords into the URL of the page.

Your display URLs should then look something like this www.domain.com/landing-page.php?kw={keyword}

Once you have set up your adverts you need to amend the code on the landing pages to insert the keyword into the page. PPC Hero have already set up a guide to doing this so I am borrowing their expertise.

 The first step here is to save your landing pages as PHP files or if you do not have the tools to do this then there is an alternative option for HTML files. For HTML files you should add the following line of code to your .htaccess file AddType application/x-httpd-php .htm .html this will allow you to use PHP coding within the HTML coding.

You can then use a simple line of code to dynamically insert your keywords anywhere in the page. <? echo $_GET[‘kw’] ?> so for example if your keyword was blue socks and you wanted you headline to read we have a large range of blue socks. Then your headline should read we have a large range of <? echo $_GET[‘kw’] ?> . which you will be able to see is very similar to dynamic keyword insertion for text ads.

There is however an issue if people come to your landing pages from a source other than PPC. As you will remember from DKI for text ads there was the provision to enter a default keyword if your keyword was not inserted, however there is no such provision for landing pages. Instead you will have to use the following text to utilize default text in the case of an error.

<?php

if ($_GET[‘kw’])
{echo ucwords($_GET[‘kw’]);}
else
{echo ucwords(“Default Text”);}
?>

Here you would replace default text with the words which you would like to appear if your visitors come from a non PPC source.

Another way that you can implement DKI if you are unfamiliar with PHP coding is to create your landing page with Unbounce as they have Dynamic keyword insertion built into the editor. Disruptive advertising have written a great article on how to use this tool.

If you run your landing pages using wordpress as your CMS then you can use the Speed PPC WordPress Plugin to avoid having to code yourself however this does incur a cost.

If you are optimising your landing pages for SEO then a good option would be to duplicate your landing page and have one specifically for PPC as adding the code to your headline can upset your SEO.

You should however note if you are going to do this that it is a smart idea to use your robot text file to stop Google crawling your PPC only landing pages to avoid any issues with duplicate content.

Best Practices

The best practices for DKI for landing pages are very similar to text ads. Make sure that you still avoid the same 5 mistakes. Don’t use single word keywords, only use phrase and exact match, don’t have misspellings or competitor keywords in your ad group and finally don’t mix singular and plural keywords in the same ad group.

Best Practice 1: Make Sure It Makes Sense

Similarly to DKI for text ads you need to make sure that when your keywords are dynamically inserted into your landing pages that it will make sense. Although you can use DKI anywhere in your landing page you need to ensure that it fits appropriately. You don’t want potential customers reading through your landing page to find a random keyword that has been stuffed there.

Best Practice 2: Utilise Hotspots

This is a great point that I have taken from PPC hero. When you are using DKI for your landign page focus on the hotspots on your page. The Headline and call to action are good places to start. You should look to test anywhere that is an action spot for your customers.

Best Practice 3: Don’t overstuff

This is another great tip from PPC Hero, Don’t stuff your landing pages with keywords, it lowers the user experience for the users and makes the landing pages harder to read. Too many dynamic keywords will appear spammy to google so avoid overusing dynamic keyword insertion in your landing pages.

Conclusion

Dynamic keyword insertion and dynamic landing page text insertion are two very powerful ways to increase your CTR and conversion rate by displaying more relevant adverts and landing pages to users. Not only this but they will help you save time and yield similar results to using SKAG’s when used effectively.

One key takeaway would be that you need to exercise caution when using this tool. You have to make sure that the advert will still make sense when any keyword in the ad group is inserted and you must watch out for misspellings and trademarks, otherwise you cold land yourself in hot water.

Thank you free reading and if you have enjoyed we would appreciate it if you would share this article with your audience and if you have any questions please feel free to comment below.

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Search Engine Journal, Econsultancy and Certified Knowledge. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

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