Google AdWords advertisers – have you ever wanted to get back in front of potential customers who visited your website, left your website, and then later searched Google for phrases relevant to your products and services?

Thanks to RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads), now you can. Despite its overly-complex name, RLSA is actually very simple, and almost identical to the Google AdWords campaigns we’re all used to. The only difference – you’re simply adding an audience to your AdWords campaign targeting settings, so that your ads only appear to people who have previously visited your website.

Think of this ‘audience’ as a fictional tropical island, with all your previous website visitors located on that island. You’re Google AdWords campaign is simply targeting people on that island, so only people who have previously visited your website will see your ads. Everything else is exactly the same as a standard Google AdWords campaign – easy! And the great news? You’re only 60 minutes away from your first RLSA campaign, so let’s get started!

1. Install The Code

Open Google AdWords and navigate to Shared Library > Audiences. If you haven’t yet installed the remarketing code on your website, follow the instructions to install the code.

Total Time Taken: 10 Minutes

2. Check Your Traffic

Due to privacy issues, the minimum audience size required for an RLSA campaign is 1,000 people, so you’ll need to ensure you have at least 1,000 (and ideally 1,500) people in your remarketing list. Open Google Analytics, and check how many people visited your website in the last 30 days. Significantly more than 1,500? Great, less than 1,500? Extend the date range until you have at least 1,500 visits and make a note of the time period (e.g. 60 days).

Total Time Taken: 15 Minutes

 3. Define Your Audiences

Click on the red +Remarketing List button, name your list (e.g. All Website Visitors – 30 Days), define the list as anyone who visited a page with the character / (to capture all website visitors), and set the membership duration to 30 days or whatever time period is needed to be confident you’ll receive at least 1,500 website visitors. Once you’ve defined your audience, it will be begin to grow in size as people visit your website


Total Time Taken: 20 Minutes

4. Choose Your Keywords

Next, research 10-20 keyword themes which very broadly relate to your products or services. If you sell Fiji holidays, for example, you might want to have keywords such as ‘holidays’ ‘fiji’, and ‘flights’. If you sell bathrooms, you might want to have keywords such as ‘taps’, ‘shower screens’, and ’tiles’. And if you sell weight loss retreats, you might want to have keywords such as ‘lose weight, ‘dieting’, and ‘healthy eating’. Remember – because your ads will only appear on Google to people who have previously visited your website, you are significantly cutting down the number of people who will see your ads, so in order to receive a meaningful volume of clicks, you’ll need to be far broader with your keywords than your existing campaigns which target everyone.


Total Time Taken: 30 Minutes

5. Write Your Ads

Once you have a list of 10-20 keywords, the next step is to write your ads. Since you can assume that anyone who will see your RLSA ads will already be aware of your website, try offering something different. If you sell Fiji holidays, for example, perhaps mention your free package inclusions. If you sell bathrooms, perhaps take visitors to your photo gallery page. And if you sell weight loss retreats, perhaps encourage visitors to browse your excellent customer reviews and testimonials. Don’t just use RLSA to shout the same generic message as your existing Google AdWords campaigns – use RLSA as an opportunity to connect with an already engaged audience (your engaged audience) in a slightly different way.


Total Time Taken: 45 Minutes

6. Apply Your Audience

Import your keywords and ads into a new campaign, set the audience to ‘All Website Visitors’, and apply any other relevant campaign settings such as geographical location and daily budget.

Total Time Taken: 60 Minutes

Where To From Here

So long as 1) your audience contains at least 1,000 people, 2) your keywords are broad enough to capture people in your audience who are marking searches vaguely related to your products and services, and 3) your bids are high enough (you may need to have 100-200% higher bids than your existing AdWords campaigns to achieve a high Impression Share), then your RLSA campaign should begin receiving impressions and clicks.

When you’ve collected some initial data, take a look at your search query report. What kind of searches are being made by people clicking on your RLSA ads? Are your messages encouraging searchers to revisit your website and re-engage with your business? Are you getting the desired goal completions from your RLSA campaigns? Play around with different keywords, bids, and messages, and draw as many findings as possible to build your experience.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re now in a great position to stand out from the competition and profitably reconnect with a relevant target audience on Google. Keep experimenting, testing, developing your own best practices, and let your RLSA campaigns evolve with your experience. We’re still a long way from RLSA becoming a mainstream strategy within the PPC industry, but the opportunities are there for those who choose to get in early.

Alan Mitchell

Alan Mitchell is a Google AdWords PPC specialist, based in Melbourne, Australia, with a proven track record at improving return on investment (ROI) from Google AdWords. Find out how Alan can help your business.