AdWords Tips

Google Conversion Tracking: Complete Guide to Conversion Tracking in AdWords

By Erin Bell August 13, 2013 Posted In: AdWords Tips Comments: 21

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So you've got your AdWords campaign up and running, and your ads and keywords are starting to generate an impressive number of clicks. Great! But unless you've got conversion tracking installed, you won't be able to see how many of those clicks are actually resulting in sales.

Conversion tracking is a powerful tool in AdWords that lets you identify how well your ad campaign is generating leads, sales, downloads, email sign-ups, and other key actions for your business. The data recorded by conversion tracking allows you to identify which areas of your campaign are working and not working, so you can optimize your bids, ad text, and keywords accordingly.

Depending on your business, a conversion could be counted when a customer makes a purchase through your website, signs up for a newsletter, fills out an online survey or contact form, downloads an app or whitepaper, calls a phone number from a mobile phone, and so on. After you've identified what customer actions you want to track as conversions, it takes just a few simple and free steps to get conversion tracking up and running for your campaign.

RELATED: What Is a Good Conversion Rate?

AdWords Conversion Tracking: The Basic Setup

Setting up conversion tracking involves generating a bit of HTML code in AdWords that you paste into the webpage on your site that customers visit immediately after completing the conversion (such as an "Order Confirmation" or "Thanks for Your Email" page).

To get started, click on the Tools and Analysis tab in AdWords, and select Conversions from the drop-down menu, which brings up the All conversions page. Click on the Conversions tab, then click the +Conversion button to create your first conversion.

You'll be prompted to fill out a form that will help AdWords generate the appropriate HTML code for you to paste into your webpage.

Give the conversion a name, such as "Contact Form submissions" if you want to track how many times visitors fill out your site's Contact Us form.

Next, select the source of the conversion. Your choices are:

1) Webpage. (If you want customers to complete an action on your webpage, such as an online purchase, contact form submission, or page visit.)

2) Call on-site. (If you want customers to call the phone number on your site from a mobile device.)

3) App download. (If you want customers to download your app.)

New AdWords Conversion

Here's a more detailed walkthrough of each of the three conversion sources:

1) Webpage Conversions

Choose the most accurate conversion category from the drop-down menu: Purchase/Sale, Signup, Lead, View of a key page (i.e. the Contact Us page), or Other. (Click image to enlarge.)

conversion tracking settings guide

Select the Markup language. HTML is the standard choice, but check with your web developer if one of the other alternatives (CHTML, XHTML, WML) would be more appropriate – especially if you're running a mobile site.

Next, enter a value for the conversion. You can assign an amount manually, such as 10 if you're selling e-books for $10 each. If you're selling a lot of different products, you can also set up the conversion tracker to record shopping cart values that change dynamically on the site. (This feature is explained in more detail in the Advanced section below.)

Tracking indicator

Enabling the tracking indicator causes an unobtrusive message to appear on your site letting visitors know that their visits to your site are being tracked by Google. Displaying it is optional, and you can opt out of showing the message by selecting the "Don't add a notification to the code generated for my page" option. If you do select it (by default, the selection is "yes") you can replace the standard message with your own, and customize the message's appearance by changing the size (single line of text vs. two lines), page background color, and language.

On the next page, you'll receive an HTML code that you'll need to paste into the page on your site that you want to track the conversion for, such as the "Thanks for Visiting" page. If someone else is responsible for making changes to your website, you can email them the code along with personalized instructions.

conversion tracking code

2) Call On-Site Conversions

If your website allows customers to call your business phone number directly from their smartphones, you can use conversion tracking to track the number of times a call is made. Go through similar steps above to generate your code, and then you'll have to manually insert "onclick" HTML tags into the code provided by Google.

An onclick tag for a simple text phone number looks like this:

Google onclick tags

Replace the phone number with your company's phone number, and the Call Now text with whatever text you'd like to use.

Onclick tags can also be used with buttons (again, replace the sample phone numbers with your own):

conversion tracking tags

And when your Call Now link is a custom GIF image (replaced "call_now_button.gif" with the name of your gif file, and replace the example phone numbers with your own):

onclick tag for gifs

3) App Conversions

AdWords is able to track downloads of Android app through the Google Play store, and, to a limited degree, iOS apps through the Apple App Store. (Click to enlarge.)

Conversion Tracking Mobile Apps

NOTE: iOS app tracking is not available for Google Search or Google Display Network campaigns -- only for the ads that are served in mobile apps through the Display Network.

To set up conversion tracking for an Android app, you will be asked for the app's "Package Name." To find it, go to the app's page in the Google Play store. Copy the URL. The package number is the information after the details?id= string, and before the &feature= string. For example, the text highlighted in yellow in the example URL below is the Package Name:

play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.manodio.android.dartsworldcup.free&feature=more_from_developer

Cut and paste that text into the Package Name box. To test that it's working correctly, click on the "View in Android Market" link, and you should link through to the app's page on Google Play. If you get an error or page not found, you've entered it wrong.

There is no further code to copy or paste for this one.  Android app conversions should start tracking in about 24 hours.

Analyzing Your AdWords Conversion Data

You can see information about your conversions from the Campaigns tab at the ad group, ads, and keywords levels. Click the Columns tab, then Conversions, to customize which columns appear. (Click image to enlarge.)

conversion tracking in adwords

Some of the basic columns include:

Conv. (1-per-click): Counts each time you receive one or more conversions from a single ad-click. You can use this number to approximate the number of new customers you're getting.

Cost / conv. (1-per-click): Displays your cost (how much you spent on clicks) divided by your total conversions. This helps you measure your return on investment (ROI). Ideally, you should be spending less on clicks than you're earning on conversions.

Conv. rate (1-per-click): Shows the percentage of clicks that resulted in conversions. The higher the percentage, the more effectively the ads or keywords are performing.

View-through conv.: Measures the number of times a customer viewed, but did not click on, your ad and later went through with a conversion.

AdWords Conversion Tracking: Advanced Options

Tracking Conversions from website shopping cart

Tracking purchases whose values you don't set yourself manually involves taking the basic tracking code provided by AdWords and modifying it with additional code unique to your particular e-commerce platform, such as eBay or PayPal. Each site does things a little differently, so it's best to read specific help files for your e-commerce site. It's best not to attempt this unless you have a working knowledge of web programming and HTML.

When this is set up properly, any conversion value statistic, such as total conversion value and cost per click, will reflect the actual revenue of the products you've sold, as opposed to a static value.

Advanced Conversion Settings: View-Through Conversions & Search De-Duplication

Available through the Advanced Settings when you're setting up Website or Call On-Site conversions, the View-through conversion window option tracks when a person sees your ad but doesn't click it, then visits your site at a later time and completes a conversion – in other words, they might have been influenced by your ad to return and convert at a later time. You can set this to track for a specific amount of time in between the view and the conversion, from 1 to 30 days, or a custom amount.

Enabling Search de-duplication means that a single conversion won't be counted twice, both as a view-through conversion and a click-through conversion if, for example, a customer first sees a Display Network ad then clicks on a text ad before making the conversion. When this is enabled, the conversion will only be counted as a click-through conversion.

Setting Up the Conversion Optimizer

By default, your ad rotation setting is set to optimize for clicks, meaning that AdWords will serve the ads it feels are most likely to result in a click-through. If you're tracking conversions, you can change this setting to optimize for conversions, meaning that the ads deemed most likely to result in conversions will be served in the auction more frequently.

To change the setting, go to the Settings tab and scroll down to the Advanced settings section. Open the Ad delivery: Ad rotation, frequency capping drop-down menu, click Optimize for conversions, and click Save.

Back in the Conversions tab, you can click Settings and then Edit Settings to change the conversion bid metric, which tells the Conversion Optimizer whether to focus on 1-per-click conversions or many-per-click conversions.

Analyzing Conversion Data with Search Funnels

Once conversion tracking has been up and running for a couple of weeks, you can use the Search Funnels analytics to track detailed data about your conversions such as how much time elapsed between when customers clicked on your ad for the first time to when they completed the conversion, and how many times they saw your ad before converting.

Access Search Funnels by clicking Tools and Analysis, then Conversions, then clicking the Search Funnels link at the lower left of the Conversions window.

Analyzing this data can help you gain insights about how customers behave on your website, such as how much time elapsed between when they clicked on your ad for the first time to when they completed the conversion, and how many times they saw your ads before converting. (Click to enlarge.)

AdWords Search Funnels

AdWords Conversion Tracking Troubleshooting

Conversion columns aren't showing any data

It can take up to 24 hours for conversion data to start appearing in AdWords. If after 24 hours conversions still aren't showing up, it's possible that no customers have converted yet. One way to test this is by going through the motions of a conversion yourself by clicking on your ad when it appears, and doing whatever action is required to trigger the conversion on your site. If after another 24 hours your conversion isn't registering, double-check that the HTML code was installed correctly. You might have to install additional plug-ins or move the code to a different part of the page.

Data Isn't 100% Accurate

If customers don't have cookies enabled in their browser when they click on your ad and complete the conversion, Conversion Tracking won't work. Most people browse the web with cookies turned on, but if you choose to display the Tracking Indicator link on your website, visitors can opt out of conversion tracking by disabling the conversion tracker cookie.

NOTE: If you change any of a conversion's settings in AdWords, this alters its code and you'll have to paste the new code into the webpage.

Campaign Receives Many Clicks, But Few Conversions

Campaigns receiving many clicks and few conversions might represent a weak return on investment (ROI) if the ads cost more to run than the business is earning back through conversions. Examining Search Funnels data and reviewing ad text and keywords might help you understand why customers are failing to convert once they reach your website.

Is the landing page unappealing? Does the website make it difficult for customers to navigate through to the conversion page? Do the ads and keywords set up expectations about a product that the website does not deliver (for example, do your ads appear when a customer searches for "cheap handbags" but take them to a website that sells expensive designer handbags?). Try to put yourself in the customer's shoes to figure out why customers who click on your ads aren't going all the way.

Got more questions about AdWords conversion tracking? Leave them in the comments!

This is a guest post by Erin Bell, an SEM and SEO copywriter with Performics Canada, the Search division of ZenithOptimedia (Publicis Groupe). Erin has been writing about consumer technology and interactive entertainment for the past decade, and her articles have been featured on Globetechnology.com, PC World Canada, Mac World Canada, Microsoft Home Magazine, Gamezebo.com, CommonSenseMedia.org, Graphite.org, and others.

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Comments

Tuesday August 13, 2013

Randall Magwood (not verified) Said:

Posts like these are the main reasons why this is my go-to site for learning about Google Adwords and how to optimize my campaigns. I dont do alot of testing with conversion tracking (never been a real "tester"), but you've shown why it's important and why i should do it. Thanks alot.

Wednesday August 14, 2013

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Awesome, thanks Randall!

Wednesday August 14, 2013

Rob Burns (not verified) Said:

I am constantly surprised at how few people leverage conversion tracking even at its most basic level. The key to great Adwords campaigns and SEO is simply knowing which keywords convert customers and which don't. The intelligence you can gather from conversion tracking is just priceless - and it's also very easy to set up as you show here.

Wednesday August 14, 2013

Elisa Gabbert Said:

We're always amazed how many people don't bother to set up conversion tracking too!

Wednesday August 14, 2013

Idan Cohen (not verified) Said:

Great post Elisa, I've bookmarked it and will include it a must read learning material for my next PPC student.

I'm having a weird problem with conversion tracking myself and maybe you can suggest a solution.

My problem is that Adwords is counting about 20% more conversions than what actually happened and I have no idea how this can happen.

Any ideas?

Thanks again for the great post.
 

Wednesday August 14, 2013

Elisa Gabbert Said:

According to Erin Sagin, one of our in-house reps, it’s likely that the conversion tracking code was placed on an incorrect page. Oftentimes, clients will place the same set of tracking code on multiple pages where they intend to track conversions. If they place it on one incorrect page, their conversion numbers will be off.

Hope that helps!

Tuesday August 20, 2013

Idan Cohen (not verified) Said:

Hi, thanks for checking it out.

I thought of that possiblity myself but if they had put it on the landing page instead of the thank you page I'd see 100% conversion rate and that's not the case.

I've also double checked the LP and the TP and the code is where it should be, still can't figure out why Adwords is counting 20% more conversions....

Thursday August 15, 2013

Peter (not verified) Said:

Thanks for this nice tutorial,

here is really all you need for the Setup

Thursday August 15, 2013

Los (not verified) Said:

Thank you for a tutorial.

I have a question. When a visitor click on "Send Message" in my contact form, the event doesn't open a new web page. I suppose this is because the contact form is made in jQuery.

I can manage in Google Analytics setting up a goal on "Event" but... how can I do it in Adwords?

How can I track events from Adwords?

Friday August 16, 2013

PPC Specialist (not verified) Said:

Although i know the basic about conversion tracking on web page, i never try 'call on site" conversion. These easy to follow guides are the reason why so many people are running sucesful PPC campaigns. 

Monday August 19, 2013

Sylviarays (not verified) Said:

Thanks for this very relevant post! I really wanted to learn bout this conversion tracking. A big help,thumbs up! : )

Wednesday September 04, 2013

Cheryl (not verified) Said:

With Google now bringing over any goals from analytics into our Adwords accounts, do we still have to insert this tracking code?

Wednesday November 06, 2013

Hamza Afridi (not verified) Said:

I've implemented a dynamic AdWords conversion tracking code on a clients website and it is working and shows me which keywords the transactions are coming from but when I dig deeper and try to figure out what the exact search term the customer entered was, it's blank, is this normal?

I'm pretty sure that if I implement the Google Analytics eCommerce code and import it into AdWords I can get this data back but then there are other issues that come with that so I'd rather the AdWords conversion tracking works.

Would appreciate some advice :)

Hamza

Saturday November 23, 2013

Craig (not verified) Said:

What if a user doesnt convert right when they land on your page but comes back say a day later or a week after they have decided to convert. How is this tracked?

 

Thanks for the useful post!

Monday November 25, 2013

Andre Hospidales (not verified) Said:

Great post. Just wanted to mention the difference bewteen 1-per-click and many-per-click. 1-per-click counts all conversions by the same visitor as one single conversion. This means that conversions are counted if an ad click results in a conversion action anytime within 30 days of that ad click happening. But no matter how many times someone converts after that click, they will only be counted as one conversion here. If one user visited your site and downloaded a free chapter, bought an e-book, and then downloaded a bonus report, that would count as 3 many-per-click conversions, but only a single 1-per-click conversion. This means you might need to look at other metrics if you are looking to analyze each conversion as a separate action.

Friday January 10, 2014

Richard J D'Souza (not verified) Said:

Thanks, I'll keep this in mind for when I do my PPC campaign.

Wednesday January 15, 2014

Chris (not verified) Said:

Very helpful article, thanks smiley

Wednesday March 12, 2014

Betty Wilhelm (not verified) Said:

Great post Elisa. This would be a big help!

Thursday March 27, 2014

Richard (not verified) Said:

What is the situation looking like for Adwords tracking of *sales* conversions made on a mobile website from a mobile device?

Tuesday June 10, 2014

Brad (not verified) Said:

I really like your step by step approach.  Has this information been updated since the latest Google Adwords release? 

For example, 1-per-click conversions are now known as Converted Clicks and many-per-click conversions are called Conversions.

Monday July 14, 2014

Jed (not verified) Said:

can I track both leads and sales from the same click? because my visitors land on a lead capture page, followed by a sales page, thanks

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