How to Distinguish Between Search Retargeting & Site Retargeting


As an online marketer you may have seen the phrases “search retargeting” and “site retargeting” bandied about quite often. If you’re more toward the expert side of the spectrum when it comes to digital marketing then you are probably well versed in exactly what these phrases mean. But if this is your first foray into digital marketing or display advertising, you may think these terms to be interchangeable – but they are not. Let’s compare them to see how they are different.

Search Retargeting

Search retargeting essentially enables you to target individuals, based on the searches they perform across major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo & Bing. You can target users based on keywords that you deem important or relevant to your campaign.

Now because the same keyword may be relevant to many different types of businesses (e.g., the word “coffee” would be applicable to both restaurants and cafes, but it would also be relevant to fair trade practices in Latin America), the person doing the search could be searching for another type of business than the one you have. Keep their intent mind when doing this type of retargeting as you don’t want to flood non-interested searchers with advertisements or special offers. Thus comes in the importance of being able to see performance on a keyword level. Using a DSP that offers the ability to look at each keyword to see performance on an individual level quickly allows the restaurant to see that the keyword “coffee”, although a relevant keyword, doesn’t perform as well for them as the keyword “to go food” for example. The restaurant can now allocate budget to “to go food” and away from “coffee” to maximize ROI.

Site Retargeting

Site retargeting  (also referred to just as retargeting) allows you to target individuals who have already visited your website. This is a critical distinction, because in essence, whereas you are targeting potential customers with search retargeting – site retargeting allows you to target users who already know about you.  After the user leaves your site without converting (buying, filling out a contact form etc.) they can be targeted with your advertisement as they search other places and navigate the web. Some of the most common campaign types we see on the platform are:

– Landing page retargeting

– Category site retargeting

– Product level site retargeting

– Cart abandonment

– Affinity retargeting

– Loyalty campaigns

These targeting options are powerful on their own, but even more powerful when used in conjunction. Shoot us an email at to get more info or start the conversation about a campaign that fits your needs.