This page discusses how to set up your account to track past the click, in order to truly understand the returns you are getting from your advertising efforts. For most of you, simply bringing visitors to your website will not be the end goal. You’ll likely want those visitors to purchase a product, fill out your lead form, sign up for a trial, or view a key page of your website. Google Ads allows you to track these actions via Google Ads’ conversion tracking and Google Analytics. Setting up your account to incorporate the visitor behavior you care about will be the key to optimizing Google Ads for the maximum performance.
Linking Google Ads to Google Analytics
Linking Google Ads and your Google Analytics accounts will help you better evaluate the results of your ad efforts and will arm you with the necessary information to maximize ROI. You’ll be able to see how many pages are visited by the people who click on your Google Ads ads, how long they stay on your website, how many leave immediately, what pages they browse, and a wealth of other useful information that will help you fine tune your ad campaigns.
After you link Google Ads and Google Analytics, you will also be able to compare Google Ads results to traffic from other sources. For example, you might want to compare how long visitors from Google Ads and Bing Ads stay on your website.
In order to link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts, you will need to be listed as an administrator on both accounts. You should also have the Google Analytics tracking code installed on your website. Make sure that the same e-mail address that you are using to log in to Google Ads is also an administrator user in your Google Analytics.
Of course, you’ll also need a Google Analytics account. If you do not have one already, you can create it at http://www.google.com/analytics/.
How to do it…
To link your Google Ads account to Google Analytics, perform the following steps:
- Sign in to your Google Ads account. You will not be able to link Google Ads and Google Analytics unless you sign in to Google Ads first.
- Go to the Tools and Analysis tab, and click on Google Analytics.
- Click on the Admin link at the top-right corner of the screen:
- Select the profile name that you’d like to link. If you are listed as a user on multiple domains, you might see multiple accounts:
- Click on the Data Sources tab. If you do not see Data Sources, you might need to navigate to the profile name right after the Account list heading.
- Follow the link account prompts.
- Select the profile(s) you’ll want to link and save:
Once you link Google Ads to Google Analytics, the two will communicate, and your Google Analytics account will reflect Google Ads data in the Google Analytics interface. What’s more, you’ll be able to customize data views in Google Ads to include Google Analytics metrics directly in your Google Ads account, so there’s less need for back-and-forth navigation. In order to see Google Analytics data in your Google Ads reports, go to My Account and click on Linked accounts. Choose the View details option in your Google Analytics section and follow the prompts to add your property.
Make sure that you have enabled auto tagging in your Google Ads account in order to see all of your Google Ads data in your Google Analytics reports.
You and other users listed on your account will receive an e-mail confirmation that you have linked your Google Analytics profile to Google Ads.
Creating a conversion goal in Google Ads to track leads or sales
I recommend setting up conversion tracking before you run any Google Ads campaigns so that you can properly measure them right from the start. Rather than optimizing for just clicks, you should optimize your campaigns for conversions or visitor actions that you care about, such as sales or leads.
First, decide what actions you’d like to track on your website. For many online businesses, sales is the end goal. However, you could track a variety of other behaviors that signify engagement, such as lead submissions, whitepaper downloads, sign ups, and views of key pages.
You can also track multiple conversions in Google Ads by creating separate conversion actions in your account.
To create a conversion in Google Ads and generate the code, perform the following steps:
- Navigate to the Tools and Analysis tab and click on Conversions.
- Click on New Conversion and name your conversion:
- Choose from the following three conversion location options: Webpage (most common)
- Call on-site
- App download
- Click on Save and continue. In the next step you will be able to choose your settings.
- Choose your Conversion category from one of the following:
- View of a key page
Choose your Markup Language. In most cases, you’ll choose HTML.
Conversion value is optional. If a conversion is worth a certain amount to you, say $20, you can assign that value to the conversion.
Click on Save and continue.
If someone else will be placing the code on your website, you have the option to e-mail them the code through Google Ads. Or, if you make changes to your website’s code, click the appropriate button to get the code.
Copy and paste the code between the tags of the pages you will be tracking (between the body tags of the page). The tracking pixel needs to show on your conversion confirmation page when a user reaches that page, in order for conversions to be recorded.
How it works…
It can take up to 24 hours before conversions appear in your Google Ads account, so do not worry if you do not see conversion data right away. Once you have enabled conversion tracking and have added the code to your website, Google Ads will start to attribute conversions to individual campaigns, keywords, and ads.
If you make any changes to the conversion Settings page, make sure that you update the tracking code on your website as well. Otherwise, conversions might no longer be tracked properly.
You might need to customize your data views in your Google Ads Campaign Management page to ensure you are seeing conversion data. I typically select the following conversion columns:
- Conv. (1-per-click)
- Conv. rate (1-per-click)
- View-through Conv.
Conversions (1-per-click) will count only one conversion per ad click. If more than one conversion occurs after a click, only the first one will be counted. Conversions (many-per-click) will count multiple conversions per click. View -through conversions are counted when someone views an ad and converts without clicking on that ad.
The Importing goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads recipe
The Setting advertising goals recipe in Chapter 1, Researching the Market and Competition and Setting Goals The Customizing columns to personalize data views recipe in Chapter 10, Reportingand Analysis
Importing goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads
Goals in Google Analytics are similar to conversions in Google Ads, in that they can help you track specific behaviors on your website, such as sign ups or sales. If you already have a goal (or multiple goals) created in your Google Analytics account, you can import them into Google Ads as conversions. This will enable you to see how your ad efforts relate to specific goals you already decided to track via Google Analytics, without needing to set up Google Ads’ conversion tracking and add an additional pixel to your website.
In order to be able to import Analytics’ goals into your Google Ads account, your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts will need to be linked first. You will need to enable auto tagging in Google Ads, and be opted into data sharing settings in your Google Analytics account under the Account settings page in your Admin section. Finally, your Google Ads ads will need to have resulted in a goal completion.
To import goals you created in Google Analytics to Google Ads, perform the following steps:
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- Go to Tools and Analysis and select Conversions.
- If your conversions are eligible to import from Google Analytics, you will see the following message:
- Click on Import from Google Analytics and select the goals you’d like to track via Google Ads:
- Choose your tracking purpose and click on Import when you’re done.How it works…
Google Ads conversion tracking and Google Analytics are calculated differently, so do not be surprised if you see some discrepancies between Google Ads conversion tracking data and goal completions in Google Analytics. The following are the three main reasons for the discrepancies you might notice:
Attribution: Google Ads conversion tracking attributes the conversion to the last Google Ads click, while Google Analytics will attribute the conversion to the source of the last visit. For example, if a visitor clicked on your Google Ads ad, but did not convert, and instead converted after finding your website via Google organic search the next day, Analytics will attribute this conversion to organic. Google Ads, on the other hand, would still attribute this conversion to the appropriate Google Ads keyword and ad, if you have conversion tracking enabled.
Cookie length: Google Ads cookies expire after 30 days while Google Analytics cookies last 6 months. This means that if a visitor converted 30 days after clicking on your Google Ads ad, Google Ads conversion tracking would not count it but Google Analytics would.
Date of conversion: Google Ads reports the conversion for the day the click that led to the conversion happened, rather than when the conversion occurred. Analytics, on the other hand, reports the conversion the day it actually occurred. For example, if a visitor clicked on your ad on October 15th but did not convert until October 17th, Google Ads would report this conversion under October 15th and Google Analytics under October 17th.
You can set up both Google Ads conversion tracking and import goals from Google Analytics. If you choose to do that, your Conv. (1-per-click) column in the reporting dashboard will de-duplicate any of the same conversions and only count one conversion. However, your Conv. (many -per-click) column will report both Google Ads conversions and imported Google Analytics goals. To see individual conversion metrics broken out further, go to Segment and choose conversion action name from the Conversions segment.
The Creating a conversion goal in Google Ads to track leads or sales recipe The Importing goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads recipe
Verifying that conversion tracking is working
After setting up Google Ads conversion tracking, I recommend making sure that it’s working properly so you can start acting on your data as soon as possible.
You will need access to your Google Ads account, your conversion actions in Google Ads, as well as the URL for your confirmation page.
How to do it…
There are a few steps you can take to verify conversions are being tracked.
Check the source code
First, I recommend checking that the code is indeed on the appropriate page and that the code matches the tracking code in your Google Ads account:
- In your browser, go to your confirmation page URL, such as yourwebsite.com/ thank_you.
- Click to view the source code. The following table entails the view page source shortcuts for the Chrome and Firefox:
|Chrome||Ctrl + U||Command + Option + U|
|Firefox||Ctrl + U||Command + U|
- In your Google Ads account, go to Tools and Analysis and select Conversions.
- Click on the conversion action you created and go to the Code tab. Choose the
I make changes to the code option to view the code you created.
- Look for var google_conversion_id in your code and search for the value you see in your account on your confirmation page’s source code.
- If you do not see it, the code was not added to the right page and will need to be installed.
Wait for conversions to occur
Once you are confident that the conversion tracking code is on the proper pages, you can simply wait for conversions to occur. I recommend checking back 24 hours after implementing conversion tracking to see if any conversions have been attributed to your campaigns.
You should see them in your Campaign Management tab next to other performance data. If you do not see any conversion columns in your Google Ads Campaign Management page, you may need to customize your views and columns to show conversion data.
Another place where you should see conversions in Google Ads is under Conversions in Tools and Analysis:
Complete a test conversion
If you prefer testing conversion tracking on your end, you can do so by clicking on your own ad and completing a fake conversion, as follows:
- Do a Google search for one of your keywords.
- Click on your ad. You will need to click on your Google Ads own ad to do this.
- Complete a test conversion.
- Check your Google Ads account to see if it’s reporting conversions. Allow up to 24 hours for a conversion to appear in your Google Ads account.
How it works…
Please note that Google Ads reporting is not real time and is delayed by at least a few hours. It can take up to 24 hours for Google Ads to reflect a conversion in your account, so make sure to allow for some time for reporting to sync.
If you are importing your goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads, it can take up to 48 hours to see the conversion data in the Google Ads interface. However, you can still see Google Analytics goals in the Analytics interface, even though they may take longer to sync to Google Ads.
One common mistake when it comes to conversion tracking includes the code being pasted on the wrong pages, such as on the landing page instead of on the confirmation page. A good hint that you may have made this mistake is if you see an over-inflated number of conversions in your Google Ads account. In such an instance, you would be counting each visit as a conversion and you would need to move the code from your landing page to your confirmation page.
Conversions are also not tracked properly if the tracking code is modified in any way, such as with an extra space. To confirm that the code has been pasted exactly as it appears in your Google Ads account, copy the entire block of code in Google Ads and search for it on your confirmation page.
Analyzing how long it takes to convert customers
Have you ever wondered how long it takes for your typical customer to convert after clicking on your ad and browsing through your website? You likely have assumptions about this process, but luckily Google Ads has hard data that can help you better understand the time lag between a click and a conversion.
You will need to have Google Ads conversions enabled and tracking in your account. If you do, Google Ads automatically tracks the time lag for you, and you just need to dig up the data.
How to do it…
To see how users convert and analyze conversion paths, perform the following steps:
- Click on Conversions under the Tools and Analysis tab.
- Click on Search Funnels to see how users convert. The main screen summary will show you total conversions, as well as the average number of days it takes to convert:
- Click on Time Lag to see additional details, including conversions and percentage of conversions completed by day:
- Choose from Days to conversion or Hours to conversion to see the percentage of total conversions completed by day or by hour:
How it works…
Google Ads analyzes impressions, clicks, and conversions your ads accrue over time and aggregates this data for a snapshot of a search path. In addition to finding out how many days your customers take to convert, you can also analyze average impressions and clicks before a conversion. In other words, you’ll learn how many times users will see your ads and how many times they will click on it before finally taking the desired action.
The default history window in Search Funnels is 30 days. You have the option to change this to 60 or 90 days at the top-right corner of the Search Funnels screen.
You can also choose to analyze time lag from one of the following options:
- From first impression
- From first click
- From last click
If you have multiple conversions, you can analyze them separately by selecting the conversion of interest from the All Conversions drop-down menu at the top-right corner of your Search Funnels screen:
The Creating a conversion goal in Google Ads to track leads or sales recipe The Analyzing assist clicks and impressions recipe
Analyzing assist clicks and impressions
Most of your customers will do a bit of research online before they finally settle on a product they’d like to purchase or choose a service to commit to. In fact, many of your visitors will likely see your ad multiple times and may even click on it more than once before finally converting, and they’ll probably use slightly different keywords to research during this process. Search Funnels in Google Ads, including assist click and impression reports help you analyze this search path that leads up to a conversion.
You will need to have conversion tracking enabled in your account, and your campaigns will need to have generated some conversions.
How to do it…
To analyze which keywords help guide your customers toward a conversion, perform the following steps:
- Log in to your Google Ads account. If you prefer the Google Analytics interface, Multi Channel Funnels in your Google Analytics account will provide similar data.
- In Google Ads, select Conversions from the Tools and Analysis tab.
- Click on Search Funnels.
4. Take a look at the following reports:
- Sort by Assist Clicks and Impressions or Last Click Analysis. The larger the number, the more often this campaign, ad group, or keyword contributes as an assist. If the number is less than 1, then it’s mostly a last click contributor.
How it works…
Google Ads relies on last click data to attribute conversions. This means that when someone converts via Google Ads, the conversion will be attributed to the keyword, which generated the last click, even though that person may have originally clicked on your ad via a completely different keyword. Here is an example:
Mary searches Google for contact lenses on Tuesday and clicks on your ad. She does not convert.
Mary searches Google again on Wednesday, but this time types in buy contacts online and converts via your ad.
Keyword buy contacts online is attributed a conversion in Google Ads. You might conclude that keyword contact lenses is too costly and does not convert, but you are not taking into consideration that keyword contact lenses is in fact a team player keyword, which helps generate sales through assist impressions and clicks.
This information can help you understand which keywords are good team players, and while they may not show conversions, are worth advertising on.
You can adjust your history window up to 90 days to include more data in your analysis. You can also choose to analyze by path by a specific conversion or the length of your conversion path:
The Creating a conversion goal in Google Ads to track leads or sales recipe The Analyzing how long it takes to convert customers recipe
Analyzing Google Ads data in Google Analytics
Once you link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts, you’ll be able to easily analyze Google Ads data in your Analytics reports. For example, you’ll be able to compare bounce rates (percentage of visitors who view only a single page) or time spent on site by campaign. This will help you better optimize your ad efforts based on user engagement.
The following are a few key Google Analytics definitions you’ll need to know as you analyze reports:
- Visits: The number of visits to your website.
- Pages / Visit: The average number of pages a user visits per session.
- Avg. Visit Duration: This specifies the length of time a visitor stays on your website.
- New Visits: The percentage of visits from the first-time visitors who have never been to your website before.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors who view only a single page. For example, a visitor who clicks on your ad and leaves after a few seconds without viewing any other page but the landing page.
Please note that a visit is not the same as a click in Google Ads and you will likely see some discrepancies between the two metrics. Clicks in Google Ads are counted when a user clicks on your ad, even if that person doesn’t reach your site, such as if they bounce and change their mind or if your site is temporarily down. Visits in Analytics indicates the number of unique sessions initiated by your visitors. For example, if auser clicks on your ad twice, Google Analytics will count that as one visit. For a detailed breakdown of the key differences between clicks and visits, refer to the following article:
How to do it…
To view Google Ads reports in your Google Analytics account, perform the following steps:
- Go to Tools and Analysis and click on the Google Analytics tab.
- Click on your website profile.
- Click to expand Traffic Sources.
- Go to the Advertising section, and then click on Google Ads:
- Here you will see a list of the numerous options you’ll be able to drill down and analyze further. I recommend starting with the Campaigns tab, which will give you a summary of all your Google Ads efforts combined:
6. Make sure to see if and how the data differs based on what device visitors use:
- Browse through the various Google Ads options to see other levels of information available to you, such as Keywords, Placements, or Destination URLs.
- Go to the Conversions section and click on Multi-Channel Funnels to review how paid search contributes to your total conversions. Click further into Top Conversion Paths to explore how the various traffic channels interact together along a conversion path.
- Adjust the date range to note trends over time and note the various graph options that Analytics provides based on your selection:
How it works…
Google Analytics imports click and cost data from your Google Ads account and displays it in Google Analytics reports, layering on additional information about visitor behavior. For example, you can see how long Google Ads visitors stay on your website, how many pages they visit, and what pages they go on to peruse on your website among other useful statistics.
In addition to analyzing Google Ads data, research where the rest of your traffic is coming from and how the various sources of traffic compare. To check out the top drivers of traffic to your website, go to tab Traffic Sources and click on All Traffic within Sources:
Your top 10 traffic sources will appear in this view, though you can choose to show additional rows. Make sure to find google / cpc to understand how much of your total traffic comes from Google Ads and how it compares to other sources of traffic, such as organic, which is web traffic that comes from unpaid search listings.
Analyzing time on site data and bounce rates
Understanding how visitors who have clicked on your ads interact with your products and services is vital to optimizing to your marketing campaigns. Some of your campaigns might generate low quality visits and bring users that immediately leave your site. You have an opportunity to analyze this behavior and optimize to ensure that you are focusing your spend on visitors that are interested in your website.
You can analyze Google Ads visitor engagement either in Google Analytics directly, or by customizing your column views in Google Ads to include Google Analytics data. In order to see Google Ads data in Google Analytics, you will need to have first linked your accounts.
How to do it…
To analyze time on site data and bounce rates:
- Log in to your Google Analytics account.
- Navigate to the Advertising section.
- Click on Google Ads.
Start by reviewing campaign-level data first. I recommend initially analyzing the following pieces of information:
- Bounce Rates
- Avg. Visit Duration
- Pages / Visit
- Goal Completions (if you set up goals)
Are you seeing differences in user engagement by campaign? If some of your campaigns are bringing visitors who spend a lot less time on your website and are more likely to bounce, you might want to revisit and optimize these campaigns. Similarly, if some of your campaigns are showing really low bounce rates and engaged visitors, you might want to focus more of your budget there.
Keep in mind that high bounce rates are not necessarily always a negative. Perhaps a visitor is comparing shopping options and will return to your website after exploring other options. Before turning off high bounce rate keywords or lowering your budgets and bids, review the conversion data to ensure you are not de-prioritizing high bounce rate campaigns that are actually converting.
Tracking beyond the Click
In the following example, Campaign Example 6 is showing higher bounce rates and less time on site than other campaigns and should be further investigated:
Clicking on any of your campaigns will take you to the ad group level view, so you can pin-point any particular problem ad groups.
Within the Google Ads tab in Google Analytics, you can analyze user engagement by the following levels of detail:
- Matched Search Queries
- Day Parts
- Destination URL
- Keyword Positions
You can also drill down further and analyze additional dimensions within each category. The idea is to identify your low performers, so you can eliminate or optimize them and focus your budget on your top performers.