Improving Google Ads Results with Website Tracking and Analytics

What are website tracking and analytics and why are they important? If Google Ads is a football or soccer team, Analytics is the referee. He attributes points and penalties to specific players. A proper website tracking and analytics setup is the field, which defines the goals and playable area.

Let’s put that into more exact terms.

What is Website Tracking and Analytics?

'"Analytics" aims to extract useful information from data and use it to make decisions. Advertisers who use Google Ads often use Google Analytics or other analytics tools to derive that information. Google Analytics makes it easier to attribute performance to:

  • Keywords
  • Ads
  • Ad groups
  • Campaigns
  • Demographics

This attribution helps us achieve goals. The ultimate goal for advertisers is ROI and there’s no better way to increase it than by using analytics for decision making.

"Tracking" in Google Conversions Tracking usually refers to the use of a website code that allows you to monitor visitors’ activity on your website. Every page visit and button click can be logged. Advertisers pay close attention to “conversions” or “goals,” such as purchases, signups, or calls, which are the primary actions they want visitors to take.

Should you use google ads website tracking and analytics tags? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Without them, you won’t be able to improve your campaign’s performance and reduce your advertising costs.

How to Set Up Google Ads Website Tracking and Analytics

Start by Defining Your Goals

Setting up website tracking and analytics should always start with a brainstorming session. Determine the conversions (i.e. actions) you want visitors to take when they visit your website. The conversions that will most contribute to your top-level objectives (e.g. revenue, ROI, etc.) should be the ones you focus on. You’ll need to make sure they’re tracked properly.

What actions are important to your business?

  • E-commerce purchases?
  • Contact form submittal?
  • Digital product downloads?
  • App downloads?

Some of the above are directly related to revenue while others are indicative of top-of-funnel intention.

Set Up a Conversion Action

Once you’ve decided on the actions you want to track, set up your actions in Google Ads.

Go to tools>conversions. Then click on the “+” button.

There are four types of conversions you can choose from.choosing a conversion type in google ads

Website conversions are actions taken on your website, such as page views, button clicks, or contact form submittals.

Example: A sports apparel website logs a conversion each time a customer purchases an item.

App conversions are actions taken within your app or app installs.

Example: YogaRama is an app that gives its users yoga tips and advice. It’s free but users can start paying a monthly fee to get personalized advice from a real yoga expert. YogaRama would probably log a conversion each time someone signs up for the premium yoga expert service.

Phone calls include calls initiated from an ad and calls initiated while visiting a website. The setup is called phone call tracking and the metrics that reflect on Google Analytics depend on the option chosen at setup.

Example: Ticket Escape is an event ticketing website that focuses on concert tickets. The company does a lot of business over the phone. Their ads include a call extension which can be clicked to call and speak to a sales representative.

Additionally, their website displays their phone number prominently on every page. This can also be clicked. Every time someone clicks Ticket Escape’s phone number and stays on the line for more than 60 seconds, a conversion is logged.

You can import conversions that you’ve logged in Google Analytics, Salesforce, or manually.

Example: Ylona’s Tours is a Slovakian tour company. The marketing department uses Google Analytics to monitor all kinds of activity on their website. Instead of setting up conversion tracking with Google Ads code, they decide to define conversions in Analytics. They link the two accounts to automatically start importing the conversions to Ads.

Setting Up a Website Conversion Action

Let’s use an example to show how website conversions could be useful. Bob is a carpenter.

example on setting up conversion action

On Bob’s website, he has a button that links to his calendar. When visitors click the button, they can schedule a consultation with Bob. What Bob wants to do is log each time someone clicks the button, schedules a consultation, and then appears on a “thank you page” that thanks the user for scheduling the appointment.

Here’s how he would set that up.

Click on website conversion. You’ll see a category box at the top of the next page. There are several to choose from. The category you choose should describe the action you’re tracking. Bob could choose book appointment. If you don’t see a category that fits, choose other.

Choosing the right conversion action

Enter a name for the conversion. Make sure it differentiates this one from the rest of your conversion actions.

Naming convention

In the Value section, Bob can define the revenue generated by the conversion action. There are three options.

  • Select use the same value for each conversion if every time the action occurs, the revenue generated is the same. For example, if you sell a product with a fixed price.
  • Select use different value for each conversion if the revenue is variable. For example, if you sell a variety of products and each transaction is worth a different amount. This requires some website code and it may be helpful to consult a developer. Click here to learn more.
  • Since Bob’s consultations are free, his advertiser can choose don’t use a value for this conversion action.

giving conversions a value in google ads

The count section defines the transactions you want to count per ad click. In Bob’s case, no matter how many times a potential customer (i.e. lead) fills out the contact form, it’s still just one lead. Therefore, Bob’s advertiser chooses one.

If your business sells a variety of training courses, for example, you might choose every. That will mean you’ll get one conversion counted each time a course is booked, even if two bookings result from the same ad click.

The next four sections can be left as is or configured as necessary. Click on any of them to change the settings.

Conversion settings

Click-through conversion window defines the time frame during which a conversion will count after an ad is clicked.

View-through conversion window defines the time frame during which a conversion will count after an ad is viewed. Yes, you can count conversions that result from impressions!

Include in “conversions” allows you to log the conversion action without counting it as a conversion with the rest of your conversion actions. To do that, set it to no.

The attribution model defines the clicks and ads that get credit for (i.e. are attributed to) conversions.

  • The default is last click, which means the last click that happened before the conversion gets the ad and keyword that triggered it logged under the conversion in Ads. If only one click occurred, that one gets the attribution.
  • First click means only the first click and corresponding keywords and ads (if multiple clicks occurred) get credit.
  • Linear gives equal credit to all clicks that occurred leading up to a conversion.
  • Position-based gives 40% of the credit to the first and last clicks and the remaining 20% gets split up between the rest of the clicks.
  • Data-driven attribution identifies the patterns that are the most likely to result in a conversion and gives them credit. This model only works if your account has enough data.

Once you’ve configured your conversion, click create and continue. Skip to the Three Tracking Tag Options section to continue your setup.

Setting Up Phone Call Tracking

Selecting phone calls as your conversion type gives you three options.

call tracking

Calls from ads using call extensions or call-only ads tracks phone calls that originate from ads themselves. Phone numbers can be included in ads by using extensions or by using call-only ads. They are clickable in mobile formats.

a call extension in full browser format

Calls to a phone number on your website logs a conversion when someone clicks an ad to visit a website and then calls a number that is published on the website. The number is usually a Google forwarding number.

Google forwarding numbers are available in many countries and are dynamically generated numbers that forward to your business number. The downside of this tracking method is that you can’t use your actual phone number on your landing page without a workaround (.e.g. CallRail).

Clicks on your number on your mobile website works like calls to a phone number on your website except it doesn’t require a forwarding number and it’s specifically for mobile sites, as the name suggests.

Here’s an example of call analytics implementation. Hammond Corps is a private security company that likes to take phone calls and rely on its salespeople to close deals. The company has a website that loads separate versions on mobile and full browsers.

Denny, Hammond’s advertising specialist, decides to set up calls to a phone number on your website tracking. This will track calls on both website versions (i.e. mobile and full browser) and he can come back to set up mobile-site call tracking later if necessary.

setting up call tracking

After clicking continue, Denny enters a name for his call conversions.

naming convention for google analytics web tracking

He selects don’t use a value for this conversion action because the callers may not become clients.

website tracking and analytics

Denny recognises that when someone clicks an ad, calls once, and then calls back again later, the person is still the same lead. He chooses one to count just one conversion per caller.

conversion count in google ads

He enters 90 seconds in call length, which means any calls that don’t last at least that long will not be counted as conversions. He knows that people who aren’t likely to become clients will usually hang up before reaching that point.

call length

30 days is a good window during which conversions should count. The action should be counted along with other conversion actions. Denny leaves these settings alone.

conversion window for google ads website tracking

When multiple calls occur before a conversion, Denny wants every call to get some credit. He selects linear as the attribution model. For example, Geoff calls Hammond twice but only the second call surpasses the 90-second threshold Denny has set. Under Denny’s attribution model, the first call will receive 0.5 conversions and the second will also receive 0.5 conversions, totalling 1 full conversion.

selecting an attribution model for call analytics in google ads

Denny clicks save and continue to move on to the next step. He needs to place a tag on his website before he can start receiving call analytics.

3 Website Tracking and Analytics Tag Options

A tag is a snippet of code that is placed in the head section of your website. It gives Google instructions to track visitors who have clicked your ads or interacted with your website. The code can be customised in case you need only to track a specific kind of action.

There are a few ways to implement a website tracking and analytics code. If you’re a novice coder and you want to track anything other than a thank you page visit, you might need help from a developer.

The Global Site Tag (Gtag)

Gtag, or global site tag, is a code snippet that can send data to Google Analytics, Google Ads, or other Google tools. It comes in handy when you want to start running remarketing ads, in addition.

Gtag works fine in almost every case but it is limited to interacting with Google applications and relies on manual code implementation.

Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Google Tag Manager is useful if you need to implement advanced tracking parameters using a graphical user interface. Although, manual code placement is still required in many cases. GTM is also great for managing Google’s various tags as well as Facebook pixels, Linkedin tags, and code for other social media analytics tools.

In GTM, you can set up various kinds of conversion actions and decide when to log a conversion. You do this by defining triggers and variables.

Triggers tell GTM when to fire a tag. You can fire them on a page load, a link click, or another custom action. Variables are kind of like filters, giving GTM extra info about whether a tag should be fired or not.

GTM uses a “conversion linker” tag to log conversions. You can use it to track across multiple domains when necessary.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a platform used to track all kinds of user interactions on websites, whether from organic or paid traffic. For example, it can be used to measure the percentage of users who complete a funnel or to find out the percentage of converting website visitors who are female. It’s very common to use Google Analytics in addition to Tag Manager or other tools.

Because website interactions are often counted as conversions, they can be defined in Analytics and then automatically imported into Google Ads. You can even create funnels and only count a conversion when users complete the entire thing.

Which Tag Implementation to Use

While you can use any solution to track your conversions, there are some cases in which a particular one would be a better fit than the others.

SolutionUse If
Global Site Tag (Gtag)● You’re a javascript pro and you want to use it to customize your tracking setup.

● You know exactly what you need to track and you don’t think you’ll need to make lots of periodic changes.
Google Tag Manager (GTM)● You need to track conversions across multiple domains.

● You have a set of parameters that define when a conversion should be counted and you don’t want to use code to set it up.

● You want to track conversions more accurately by using unique identifiers.

● You want to manage lots of tags (e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, and others) with one tool.
Google Analytics (GA)● You want lots of website interaction data, including that of organic traffic.

● You want to create remarketing lists but don’t need to manage lots of tags.

How to Set Up and Use Gtag

You’ll need to place the Gtag between the <head> and </head> tags of your website pages. The way you’ll do this depends on the website solution you’re using. Many CMS applications, such as WordPress and Wix, have custom code editors that allow you to do it easily.

Placing the Gtag on Your Website

Start by retrieving your tag code from Google Analytics. You’ll need to set up a property for your website if you haven’t already.

Click admin in the left-hand column.

placing gtag on website

Select the appropriate account and property.

website tracking and analytics

Under property, click tracking info and then tracking code.

tracking info

Scroll down to your site tag code and copy it.

the Gtag for website tracking and analytics

Next, paste the code in the <head> section of your website, making sure it loads on all pages. The way you do this varies depending on how you built your website. Do a Google search to find out, or get help from your webmaster.

Setting Up the Event Snippet

If you want to track events by placing additional code on your website, you can place event snippets for each event you want to count as a conversion. Nowadays, most advertisers prefer using Tag Manager or Google Analytics “goals” for tracking, which we’ll explain later. However, manually placing event snippets is a completely viable method.

To set up your snippet, you’ll start by going through the steps in Set Up a Conversion Action, above. If you’re here after completing those steps, great. You’ve chosen the kind of event you want to track. Now let’s place the snippet

Once you’ve chosen your parameters, you can choose between three installation options. Since we explain Google Tag Manager in another section, we’ll choose install the tag yourself here. This is the way it was done before Tag Manager’s debut.

tag setup

For the next step, you’ll need to know a little bit about your website. Select the scenario that describes it. If you’re not sure, Google Tag Assistant will shed some light on it. See Method B, below.

You’ll see customised instructions based on the selection you make. Follow them carefully to complete the setup.

selecting your tag configuration before placing the event snippet

Verifying Gtag is Working Properly

There are a few ways to verify if Gtag is working.

Method A: Realtime Reports

Open Google Analytics and navigate to the correct account, property, and view.

verifying gtag verifying gtag

Click on realtime.

google ads website tracking and analytics

Navigate to your website. In a few moments, you should see the pages you’re visiting under top active pages. A page that is listed as “/” is most likely the homepage.

verifying gtag with a realtime report in google analytics

You should also see your location in the top locations section.

top locations

Method B: Google Tag Assistant (GTA)

To quickly check to see if the tag is set up properly, you can use Google Tag Assistant. Install the extension onto the Chrome browser and load a webpage.

If the tag is set up correctly, tag assistant will display a little green smiley face symbol. If something’s wrong, you can click on a tag to get advice about how to fix it.

Verifying gtag with google tag assistant

How to Use Google Tag Manager (GTM) and the Conversion Linker Tag

The most advantageous thing about GTM is that it bypasses the process of manually editing tags in many cases. You get to use a GUI interface to set most of your tracking up from within the app.

Create a Container

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a Tag Manager account.

Then, create a container to organise your tags and rules into. You can create a container for a domain if you wish.

Next to your account, click the dropdown menu and then click create container.

creating a container for GTM

Enter a name for your container and select a platform. We’ll demonstrate a container for a website, for which we’ll select web.

selecting container for GTM

Follow the instructions and place the two codes in their respective places on your website. You may need help from a developer with this.

a google tag manager web tracking and analytics code

Create Conversion Linker Tags

Conversion linker tags help Google measure events effectively, especially when you use Tag Manager for products that aren’t part of Google’s suite, such as Facebook Ads or Linkedin Ads. In Google’s words, it “automatically detects the ad click information in your conversion page URLs and stores this information in first-party cookies on your domain.”

On the left-hand side of your container page, click on tags.

creating conversion linked tracker

Click new.

creating tags

Name your tag and then click in the tag configuration box.

tag configuration for website tracking and analytics

Click conversion linker (search for it if you don’t see it).

Finding conversion linker

The following three selections and advanced settings are for advanced use cases.

linking options

Enable linking on all page URLs allows you to essentially store tracking information across URLs until a user has consented to allow cookies.

If you need to track across multiple domains, select enable linking across domains and enter your domains as instructed here.

Override cookie settings is for rare cases when default cookie settings won’t work.

Under advanced settings, you can change the order that tags fire, set timeframes during which they can fire, or add metadata to them.

Click anywhere inside the triggering box.

Triggers fire when a specified event, such as a button click or a page view, occurs. Set triggers for important actions that you want to track.

trigger events

Click the “+” button in the upper-right corner.

setting up tracking trigger

Name your trigger. Then click anywhere inside the trigger configuration box to select a trigger that describes the kind of action you want to track.

the trigger configuration

There are numerous types of triggers, each of which is set up a little differently. We’ll set up the page view trigger as an example. If you have trouble setting up your trigger, try searching google for help pages or find an expert.

Let’s say your website has a contact form and when a visitor fills it out, they’re directed to a thank you page. You want to track when people reach that thank you page. Here’s how you would do that. First, click page view.

choosing trigger type

Select some page views, then page URL, contains, and then enter the URL path of your thank you page (assuming only that page contains it).

configuring a trigger in google tag manager

Click save, then submit.

submitting trigger

Give your workspace a version name. If you create a new version later, you can revert to this one if you find that the new version isn’t working out.

Lastly, click publish.

publishing changes

Linking Google Analytics and Google Ads

As with Tag Manager, with Google Analytics you can set up a variety of conversion actions to track. They’re called “goals” in Analytics and they can be imported to your Google Ads account so you can keep track of the ads, keywords, and other campaign elements that drive conversions.

Start by setting up Analytics on your website if you haven’t already. Place the Gtag on your site. Follow the instructions in the How to Set Up and Use Gtag section above.

Once you have an Analytics account for your website, link it to your Ads account.

In Analytics, click admin.

linking analytics and ads

Select the account and property you want to link.

google ads linking

Scroll down and under property, click Google Ads linking.

linking google ads and google analytics

Select the Ads accounts to link to. With the email address you’re signed into, you’ll need to have “edit” permissions for the Analytics property and “admin” access to the Google Ads account to which it will link.

Click continue.

website tracking

If you’ve chosen more than one account, you can give a name to the group under link group title.

Switch on the all website data view or whatever view applies to your website tracking and analytics goals. Select share my Analytics data with linked Google Ads accounts as well. Then click link accounts.

how to link google analytics to google ads

Setting Up Analytics Goals and Importing Them (as Conversions) to Google Ads

Now that you’ve linked Analytics to Google Ads, you can use Analytics goals as conversion events. When someone clicks a button that is tagged as a goal after clicking your ad, for example, you’ll see it under the corresponding targeting and demographics in Ads.

Setting up goals is much like setting triggers in Tag Manager. It can be a bit complicated. Take your time or ask for help.

Start by clicking admin in the left-hand menu of Analytics. Then, select the appropriate account, property, and view.

importing goals as conversions into google ads

Under view, click goals.

tracking and analytics

On the goal setup page, you can choose from several goal types. If none describe the event you want to track, select custom. Then, click continue.

selecting goal type

Next, name your goal and select a goal slot ID. If you plan on creating a bunch of goals, you can categorise them by goal set, but you don’t have to.

categorising goal set

There are four goal types available in Analytics.

  • A destination is a URL or range of URLs that when visited, are counted as a goal completion. This is commonly used to count a conversion each time someone is directed to a thank you page after submitting a contact form. Note that you don’t include the domain in the URLs you want to track. For example, if you’re tracking when users load www.yoursite.com/about, you need only enter “/about” in your goal details.
  • Duration is a measure of time spent on the website. For example, you can count a goal completion each time a visitor remains on your website for more than 8 minutes.
  • You could count a goal completion each time a visitor loads more than 3 pages in one session by using the Pages/screens per session
  • Event goals could be any actions that aren’t listed above, such as button clicks, downloads, or scrolling. This is the most advanced goal type in terms of configuration. See this resource for instructions.

Select a goal type and click continue.

Enter your parameters. You can set a monetary value if a goal has one.

For destination goals, you can create a funnel. A funnel is a URL sequence. If you want to count a goal completion only when multiple URLs are loaded in sequence, you can define the funnel and toggle the required? switch to yes.

goal settings and parameters in Analytics

Click save.

Importing Analytics Goals into Google Ads

Now you can import your goals into Google Ads and start keeping track of the ads and targeting that generate them.

In your Ads account, go to tools>measurement>conversions.

importing analytics goals into google ads

Click the big, blue “+” button and then click the import box.

Select Google Analytics (UA) and click continue.

selecting goals to import

If you don’t see any goals that you created in your linked Analytics account, reload the page again in a few minutes or make sure you’ve linked the correct accounts.

If your goals are listed, select those you want to import and click import and continue.

finalising goals to import

Now you’re tracking!

Troubleshooting Google Ads Website Tracking and Analytics

Now you know a few different ways to implement website tracking for Google Ads. What you may not know is what to do if it doesn’t work. Don’t get frustrated if you have to resort to troubleshooting. Often, there are easy solutions to your website tracking and analytics issues.

Why Am I Not Getting Any Conversions?

There are several reasons this could be the case.

Maybe It’s too Early to See Conversions

It might be too early to see the conversions in your Google Ads campaigns. It takes up to 24 hours for them to show up. If your campaign hasn’t been active for that long yet, give it some time.

Maybe the Targeting Is Off

The second possible cause is poor keyword research or targeting. Your keywords or other targeting might not be reaching consumers who really want your product or service.

For example, a bike rental company is using the keyword “e-bike rentals Melbourne” but doesn’t have e-bikes. It only has the old pedal bikes! This keyword is no good at all. It’s spending money that could be used for good keywords.

Your problem could be far less obvious than our example and still cause lots of trouble. Try to put yourself into your target audience’s shoes. Evaluate your targeting and make adjustments as necessary.

Bad Landing Pages Could Be The Problem

Your landing pages might be failing to give visitors that “aha” feeling. Sometimes advertisers overlook this extremely important element of a campaign.

Take your time to make your landing pages just right. Here’s a checklist to help you increase your conversion rate.

Are You Prepared?

If you’re still just getting started, remember that your campaign is only as good as the website tracking and analytics that you put in place. ROI and other important metrics can’t easily be measured, much less improved, without sufficient data from tracking.

Make sure you’re set up to get the insights you need before you activate your campaigns. That way, you’ll know which campaign elements (i.e. ads, targeting, etc.) are helping you achieve your goals and which may be hindering you.

We are rated as one of the best SEM agencies in Singapore when it comes to SEM Singapore. Heroes of Digital’s experienced marketers have helped countless businesses get their campaigns dialled in. Need help with your website tracking and analytics, or just looking to improve your ROI? Get a quote today.

 

Xavier Tan
Co-Founder
Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.

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