Responsive Search Ads: Everything You Need to Know

A computer on a desk with plants and a lamp and notebook. On the computer someone is going to create a new responsive search ad.
Have this post read to you in a natural voice:

The Biggest Change to Google Search Ads in 2022

Starting June 30th, 2022 you’ll no longer be able to create or edit expanded text ads. Leaving responsive search ads as the only form for creating new ads inside a standard search campaign. While this change will help simplify the way you create ads and make it easier for you to drive performance with Google’s automated tools, it’s crucial to understand how they will work.

It’s important to note that existing expanded text ads will continue to run alongside responsive search ads, and you’ll still see reports on their performance going forward. You will also still be able to pause, resume, or remove expanded text ads if needed.

In this blog post, we’ll cover: 

  • What Responsive Search Ads Are
  • The Anatomy of a Responsive Search Ad
  • Best Practices
  • How to Run Tests
  • And How to Prepare for This Change 

Let’s get to it!

What Are Responsive Search Ads?

Responsive search ads are very similar to how expanded text ads appear on the search engine results page (SERP) and in how you create them. However, responsive search ads allow you to input 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, whereas expanded text ads only allowed for 3 headlines and 2 descriptions.

Google is then able to run more on-the-go testing for you to figure out which combination works the best. By entering in the max 15 headlines and 4 descriptions Google is able to create 43,680 different combinations! This is really great for Google's automated bidding strategies as it will allow it to test out different combinations to get you closer to your goal by locating the combinations that work best for each situation.

The Anatomy Of A Responsive Search Ad

From a user's point of view from the SERP, a responsive search ad(RSA) isn’t going to look any different than your typical expanded text ad. Inside Google Ads though? It has a bit of a different look with some new features you don’t see inside an expanded text ad. So let’s break it down.

Want a refresher on what text ads look like to a user on the SERP? Check out our blog on The Anatomy of a Google Search Ad.

A stylized graphic of what a responsive search ad looks like in Google Ads.

Responsive Search Ad Creation

Above is a full mock-up of what you can expect to see inside Google Ads when you click on ‘Create a new responsive search ad’. The biggest difference you’ll see is lines for creating your 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. The more headlines and descriptions you can fill in the more combinations Google will have to work with and try out. 

A stylized graphic explaining what a final url is inside a responsive search ad while showing what it looks like.

Final URL

Just as expanded text ads used a Final URL in their ad creation, responsive search ads do as well. Final URLs are the landing page that a user will be redirected to upon clicking on your advertisement.

A graphic depicting what display paths are inside a google ad and explain what the different parts of it are.

Display Paths

Display paths behave just like they did inside of expanded text ads as well. They are how you customize the URL that is displayed to users when your ad appears on the SERP. So be sure to add in informational keywords about what the user can expect to see when they click on your ad.

A graphic showing what a pin looks like inside a responsive search ad and explaining what it does


Pins are one of the main differences between responsive search ads and expanded text ads (aside from additional headlines and descriptions). Pins allow you to lock a headline or description to a specific location inside the final advertisement. They allow you to have more control over what combinations Google is able to make.

Pinned Position

The number next to the pin correlates with the location you have locked the headline or description. For example, if you see a pin with a 1 next to it, as pictured above. That means if it’s next to a headline, it can only show up in the first headline spot. If it’s next to a description it can only show up in the first description spot.

Best Practices For Responsive Search Ads


  • Input Max Headlines
  • Use All 30 Characters
  • Include Call-To-Actions (CTAs) inside your headlines
  • Include Top Performing Keywords in Your Headlines
    • By including your top-performing keywords inside your headlines you can increase ad strength and improve ad relevancy


  • Input Max Descriptions
  • Include CTAs Inside Your Descriptions
  • Use All 90 Characters

Call-To-Action (CTAs)

  • Use Clear and Specific CTAs 
    • Call Now VS. Call Now to Schedule Your Consultation
    • Schedule Your Consult VS. Schedule Your Consult on Our website

Pinned & Unpinned

  • Try Pinned & Unpinned Headlines & Descriptions 
    • Pinned headlines and descriptions will limit your reach but you will gain more control over how your ad looks.
    • When a headline is pinned to a position, only other headlines also pinned to that position can show up there. 
    • Unpinned headlines and descriptions will show up in unlocked or available positions
    • If you have ad copy that you want to show up in every ad, pin it to headline 1, headline 2, or description 1 it will show up in EVERY ad.

Ad Copy

  • Make Sure All Your Headlines & Descriptions Make Sense Together
    • Headlines and descriptions can be shown in any order.
    • Use the display examples that show up next to your ad during creation to assist you with this.
  • Write Ad Copy that Focuses on User Needs and Benefits
    • How can you solve their problems?
    • What does a user get by clicking on your ad?
  • Create the Max Number of Responsive Search Ads Per Ad Group
    • You can only have 3 responsive search ads per ad group.

How To Run Tests

Previously, when you had responsive search ads and expanded text ads, you would use responsive search ads to run tests to find the best performing headlines and descriptions and expanded text ads would be your best combinations. So how do you test things out now that you only have responsive search ads? Our suggestion? Put the max number of responsive search ads and pinned headlines and descriptions to use.

Example #1

Create 2 responsive search ads that have the exact same ad copy but pin all the headlines and descriptions in one ad and leave the other unpinned. This will help you to identify whether pinning ads can be good for you or not.

Example #2

Try pinning only the call to action. Does pinning the call to action increase clicks?

Example #3

Try pinning your headlines that include the best performing keywords of that ad group to position headline 1 or 2 and see how that performs.

How To Prepare

So now that you know all about the ins and outs of Responsive Search Ads, how do you start preparing for this change on June 30th?

  1. Figure out what search campaigns you have & identify what ad groups are going to need new ads written.
  2. Brainstorm new ad copy or try new versions of existing successful ad copy.
  3. Start testing out responsive search ads before the change. Writing and testing ad copy takes time, so be sure to get a jump start on it.
  4. Make sure you have at least one responsive search ad inside every ad group in your search campaigns by June 30th and plan to add up to the max 3 after that.
  5. Expanded text ads aren’t being deleted. You’ll still be able to have them running, so go through all your expanded text ads and make sure they have evergreen content and are well optimized so you can continue to run them for as long as possible.

We hope this breakdown helps you to feel more prepared and ready to tackle this new change coming to Google Ads this year.

For easy reference, here’s the downloadable link to the ‘Anatomy of a Responsive Search Ad’ infographic. As well as the link to our blog ‘The Anatomy of a Google Search Ad’ for a nice refresher on how text ads are displayed to users on the SERP.

As always feel free to reach out if you have any questions we’re always happy to help!