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What is Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)?

Dynamic Keyword Insertion, or DKI, is an advanced form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that changes ad content to match a search query. In ecommerce, this technique is most useful when creating ads that are grouped around a single subject, since the ads can be automatically tailored to be more relevant to the exact search term.

How Does Dynamic Keyword Insertion Work?

Effective search marketing for ecommerce generates visibility for consumers with an intent to purchase. For example, a merchant specializing in cat food wants to increase visibility on SERPs for queries which denote a user's intent to buy cat food rather than searching for, say, ingredients to make his or her own cat food -- which doesn’t do the merchant much good as he or she would be serving up their ad to a potential competitor vs a potential customer.

If they have an ad with copy: "Need Cat Food?", the merchant could use Dynamic Keyword Insertion to further appeal to a user's related, specific query.

This could include:

  • Need Premium Cat Food?

  • Need Cheap Cat Food?

  • Need Organic Cat Food?

Even better, given that the above copy may be redundant, since the searcher typed in a query that hints her or she has an interest in (or need for) cat food already, you can have ad copy with a clear solution right off the bat:

  • [Name of Brand] Cheap Cat Food

Tip: Watch your word choice. For instance, “cheap” has a negative connotation attached, so “inexpensive” might work better. That being said, there’s a character/word count limit, so you want to make sure whatever switch out happens does not go over that limit.

Note: You get 25 characters for headline, 35 characters for Line 1, Line 2 and Display URL and then 1024 characters for Destination URL.

Each of these keywords appeals to a different value point for customers. Individually, each may not bring in a great number of customers, but advertising to all of them can help bring in enough sales to make the advertising campaign worthwhile. Please note that this doesn’t mean you advertise to all in the same ad group within that campaign -- just overall across your account. More on this in a bit.

By necessity, the landing pages for Dynamic Keyword Insertion campaigns can't be overly targeted, unless you want to put in the time and energy to develop tons of landing pages -- which let’s be honest, most of us are looking to get more while investing less. Users could arrive from multiple different keywords, so the page needs to have the flexibility to remain relevant for all of them (other than the DKI variable you’re changing out) to maintain or increase conversion rates. In this case, a landing page showcasing the company's varieties of cat food would probably be the most appropriate choice.

This may sound contradictory to DKI’s purpose which is better personalization. But simply put, you can’t personalize everything if you’re limited on time and resources. What you can personalize are DKI variables like location (Orange County vs Los Angeles), value proposition (cheap vs quality), or product in general (cat food vs dog food).

Getting the Most Out of DKI

To work well, Dynamic Keyword Insertion requires that every keyword in the campaign fits with the ad. This is usually accomplished with a straightforward [Adjective] + [Noun] format, especially because the character limitations on pay-per-click ads tend to make long-tail keywords too difficult to use.

If the keywords are too different to reconcile with a single landing page, Dynamic Keyword Insertion should not be used. Similarly, if there's a keyword that doesn't work well with the rest of the ad, it shouldn't be used there at all — it would be better to run that as its own separate advertisement.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion is easy to set up once a company knows how to format it, but the overall quality of the ad and the landing page message match is more important than how quickly a campaign can be set up.

The Drawbacks of DKI

The primary drawback of using DKI is that your landing pages must be generalized to be relevant to all possible search queries that trigger your ad. If you’re looking to improve your click-through-rate alone, DKI is a great way to go. At least, it’s a good starting point.

But if you want to maintain that same level of granularity through to your landing page, you’ll end up running into trouble.

This is because DKI relies on inserting keywords, as opposed to search terms.

Keywords are what you bid on in your PPC, where Google will trigger your ad to show if a user’s search term is relevant enough. Search terms, on the other hand, are what users actually type into the search bar.

Search terms denote the actual intent of the searcher, as opposed to keywords which can be overly generic. There are often multiple search terms that trigger an ad for a single keyword, which can lead to a large discrepancy in relevance.

In the above example, you can see how there are countless different search terms (or search queries) that trigger only two different keywords. Keeping your ads relevant to all these different search terms is possible with DKI, but keeping your landing pages relevant to each is rather tough. This is because there’s a lot more content on your landing pages than in your ads.

Even so, I would say that DKI can only go so far with granularity of relevancy if you have too many keywords in one ad group.

Taking Relevance One Step Further With SKAGs

This is where Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) can take the same logic as DKI to the next level -- to supercharge your ads’ relevance, your ad copy’s relevance, and even your landing pages’ relevance.

And yes, that does mean a drastic increase in CTR and Quality Score, which will also drop your CPC and lead to more conversions from more qualified searchers.

Single Keyword Ad Groups are just what they sound like: ad groups that target only a single keyword. The reason behind this is so you can pare down your keyword:search term ratio to be closer to a 1:1 correlation.

With this, you can monopolize your ads and landing page to be hyper relevant to a single search term instead of a keyword that may have multiple search terms you need to adapt to via DKI.

So, for the original example of “Need Cat Food?”, you could create SKAGs for each of the hypothetical DKI instances. To do so, you need to use all three types of keyword match types in your PPC platform to ensure that your SKAGs each target only their singular search term. So your SKAGs would look a bit like this:

Need Premium Cat Food

  1. +need+premium+cat+food (broad match modifier)

  2. [need premium cat food] (exact match)

  3. “need premium cat food” (phrase match)

Need Cheap Cat Food

  1. +need+cheap+cat+food

  2. [need cheap cat food]

  3. “need cheap cat food”

Need Organic Cat Food

  1. +need+organic+cat+food

  2. [need organic cat food]

  3. “need organic cat food”

You’ll use all the match types possible except for broad match, which is far too general and is primarily responsible for such high keyword:search term ratios to begin with.

After that, you can insert the exact search term into your ad headlines, ad copy, and landing page header/copy to make each hyper relevant to users.

Again, this should bring a huge boost to your CTR and Quality Score, which will drop your CPC. Not only that, it should also improve your conversion percentage (barring that you don’t have a completely appropriate offer), because only qualified, purchase-intent users will be clicking on your ads.

If you’re looking for more in-depth explanations of how to cut down your keyword:search term ratio, or how to set up your SKAGs, you can read up on the topics in the posts below:


Whether you’re employing Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) or Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), the end goal is the same: the creation of hyper relevant ads that generate traffic with a high intent to convert.

These PPC strategies can require some due diligence and some granularity, and can even be daunting to set up at times. But the improvements they bring to key, needle pushing metrics, is always worth the effort.

Our Expert

Johnathan Dane is the Founder of KlientBoost, a PPC agency focusing on CRO and aggressive testing. He has grown two separate agencies to more than $5M in annual revenue in less than three years. If you liked what you read, check out out our free proposal to learn more.

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