How to figure out what actions people are taking when they click your ad.
It’s not enough to spend money and see more money coming back. We can only improve what we can measure. When we run a Google Ads campaign for a client, we don’t leave anything to chance. We count everything — especially what actions get taken by the people who click on our ads.
After all, when they click those ads, it costs our clients money. We keep track of conversions to make sure clients know exactly what they are getting when they pay for that click.
For some reason though, there are many advertisers out there who get lazy with this step. It’s mission critical and you shouldn’t run any ads without proper tracking in place.
Here’s how you can do the same — use Google Analytics to track the conversions of your Google Ads, in seven easy steps …
Step 1 – Establish Your Goals
What is a “conversion” anyway? A form submission on the page that creates a lead? A strategy call booked or a live chat initiated? An actual sale?
Before we start counting, we have to know what we want to count. Decide on the primary action that you want to count on a conversion before you start tinkering in analytics. You might also have a secondary conversion you want to track — downloading an asset, engaging with a video, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
Step 2 – Configure Google Analytics to Track Those Goals
Once you install the Google Analytics tracking code on your website, you can set a “goal” to track for each page view. Select Admin > View > Goals and pick the goal you want from that particular view. You can create up to 20 goals per view. Your conversion goal will probably be an “event.”
Step 3 – Test Your Goals
Don’t just assume Analytics is working properly. Go to the page view for which you just created a goal and run a test event — filling out the form, making the purchase, etc. — that should cause Google Analytics to record the event. Switch from the website to Google Analytics and see if it recorded the event.
Step 4 – Link Your Google Analytics Account to your Google Ads Account
Remember, we’re not just counting what events happen on this page view — we’re counting how many of these actions are taken as a result of the ads. To do that, we need to link your Google Ads account. Go to Admin > Properties > New Property > Google Ads Linking and follow the instructions.
Step 5 – Import Your Goals into Google Ads
Now that your Google Ads account is linked to Google Analytics, import those goals from Google Analytics to Google Ads. From your Ads account, select Tools & Settings > Conversions. Hit the “+” button and choose to import data from Google Analytics. Select the goals you want to track and import them.
Step 6 – Optimize Your Ad Conversion Settings
By default, Google Ads tracks “last-click” conversions — an action is only attributed to the ad if the click on the ad was the last, most immediate action taken by the visitor. This isn’t the best way to track it, though — if they clicked on your ad, left the page, and came back later and converted, you would have no way of knowing that your ad was the deciding factor.
We usually set up position-based attribution instead, which gives variable credit to each click made before the action — in other words, the ad would get at least partial credit. To do this, click any conversion goal, choose Edit Settings > Attribution Model and choose the attribution model you want to use.
Step 7 – Test Your Ads
Now that everything is set up, run a new test. Click on your ad, execute the action you want to track, and see if Google Analytics attributes the action to your ad. You probably want to open up an Incognito tab to do this. If you choose position-based attribution, click the ad and then take a few more actions — navigate around the website and go back, find the site in organic search, etc. — and then simulate the conversion. See if Google Analytics assigns the appropriate amount of credit to your ad.
This might sound a little complicated, but it’s actually easier than it sounds. Take your time, execute one step at a time, and you will never be in the dark about how many conversions come from the ads you pay good money for.