Our paid search experts offer their advice on how and when to use Dynamic Keyword Insertion in your ad text and headlines, and what it can achieve for your ad campaigns.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion, or DKI, is an advanced feature of AdWords that lets you incorporate users’ search queries into your ad text, headline or display URL.

An ad that uses dynamic keyword insertion in its ad text and headline will look something like this:

DKI examples

To use dynamic keyword insertion, you need to include a special keyword insertion code when you write your headline or ad text.

This is the basic version of the code, which displays the user’s search query in Title Case.

{KeyWord:default text}

You should replace default text with some ‘backup’ text that will appear if the user’s search query can’t be incorporated into the ad.

You can also vary the capitalisation of KeyWord to render the user’s search query differently. For example, Keyword displays it as Sentence case, while KEYword renders it with the FIRST word capitalised.

There are a number of reasons why the user’s search query might not appear in the ad. The most common is that it causes the ad text to overrun Google’s character limits.

Why Dynamic Keyword Insertion Is Important

Dynamic keyword insertion should be used with caution. Used indiscriminately, and it can easily result in nonsensical or misleading ads. Take this ‘classic’ from eBay:

Loneliness DKI

However, with careful implementation, DKI can be a time-saving and effective way to improve CTR and ad relevancy.

It’s particularly useful for retailers who sell lots of product variations. For example, a clothing retailer that sells items in many colours and sizes would find it difficult to manage all the possible keyword variations for these items. As long as they were careful with match types, DKI could work wonders for a business like this.

However, we recommend that everyone tries DKI. You might find it works for you too.

Try running it on one ad within an ad group, and test whether it performs better. But remember: Less is (definitely) more when it comes to DKI!

Best-Practice Tips for DKI

Here are a few best-practice ‘DOs and DON’Ts’ to bear in mind:

  • DON’T use broad match with DKI

Ideally, you should use exact match keywords with DKI, built out with negatives from your search query reports. Careful use of phrase match and modified broad match may be OK, but broad match should be avoided.

The reason for this is that broad match tends to bring in irrelevant search queries. This is not so much a problem when your ads have clear headlines signifying their subject matter, but a DKI headline will appear relevant, even if your ads and landing pages are not.

  • DON’T use DKI in your ad text

Or rather, be very careful about using DKI in your ad text.

Using DKI in your headline simply shows that the landing page you’re linking to will be relevant to customers’ needs. But using it in your ad text can make it look spammy, especially if it’s overused.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re adamant about using DKI in your ad text, never use it more than once

  • DON’T use DKI when bidding on misspelt keywords

Bidding on misspellings can be a good idea for non-DKI ad groups – they may have lower costs per click than the correctly spelt keywords. However, in DKI ads, the keyword will appear in the ad. This looks very unprofessional – to the user, it’s like you’ve misspelt your own headline.

  • DON’T use DKI when bidding on competitors’ branded keywords

You shouldn’t use competitor’s brand keywords, for similar reasons to the above – they’ll appear in your ad copy. It’s against best practice to include direct competitors in ad text or headlines.

  • DO test, test and test again!

In the world of paid search, it’s important to run tests whenever you try anything new or make changes to your campaigns. DKI is no exception!

This post is adapted and abridged from our FREE eBook – The Best-Practice Guide to AdWords Audits: Part One.

Download your copy now to learn best practice recommendations to help you audit your AdWords account.

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