How to set up RLSA Retargeting in Adwords

With Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) you can retarget visitors with search ads. This means you can serve different ads to your visitors and you can add keywords just for your visitors.

Basically, you set up ad groups specifically for people who have visited your site before. Or if you want to get specific: a part of your site.

This is how RLSA could work:


In this example a previous visitor of a soap store is searching for soap again a week later. Because he is in your RLSA list, he will be served with the ad you have chosen for that list.

Setting up an RLSA list

First you’ll need to place the Adwords remarketing tag on your site. To find the tag go to Shared library and Audiences. Follow the instructions to receive your remarketing code.

Tip! Myself I like to use Google Tag Manager for my remarketing tags. With Google Tag Manager you only have to place a tag in your site once. All tags from there on are added through GTM.

Add the Adwords remarketing tag to all pages of your site.

From now on all visitors of your site are added to the standard ‘All visitors’ list. You can create new lists. By all means, experiment.

For now, we’ll stick with the ‘All visitors’ list.

Now go to your campaign tab and add a new campaign. You can also use RLSA for ad groups. In my scenario I choose to have control over the RLSA budget at this point. Tip: copy the settings from your standard campaign.

Give your new campaign a name with ‘RLSA’ in it. This will make it easier to recognize in reporting.

In the ad group go to Audiences. Click Remarketing and in the dropdown under Targeting click Remarketing.


Now add the remarketing list to the ad group.

Important: there are two options: ‘Target and bid’ and ‘Bid only’. If you choose ‘Bid only’, your ads won’t exclusively be triggered by the RLSA list. You probably don’t want that.

Most default settings in Adwords are focussed on you spending more. Be aware of this. I’m not hating on Google here, but I’m just saying that you need to be aware that not all default options are necessarily the right ones for you.

What I do want is to increase my CPC for my RLSA list. Since I’m retargeting visitors, they are probably more likely to convert. So I’d like to have better positions.


And that’s it. If you’ve followed my steps, you now have created a campaign that retargets your visitors with 30% increase in CPC.

What you could do now is also add an ad group with broader keywords. Since you are targeting visitors of your site, you could target less specific with your keywords.

  • andreas

    hi Edwin.

    thanks for the article
    what kind of campaign do i have to make? search only with all feature?

    can i just left the keyword tab empty?

    thank you,

  • EdwinDijkstra

    If you want to add RLSA to a regular search campaign, create a search campaign as you would normally. You still are targeting search terms, so you need to add keywords. Good luck!