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Optimizing AdWords with Google Analytics: Google Best Practices

Analyze AdWords performance in Google Analytics

You’ll get high-performance insights into your ads and your website when you integrate your Google Analytics account with AdWords.

The Importance of Linking AdWords and Google Analytics Accounts

This video references the previous version of AdWords. Learn how to check which version you're using.

Analyze AdWords Performance in Google Analytics - Google Best Practices

Google Analytics offers limitless insight, but we’ll talk about some highlights when it comes to AdWords analysis. In other videos we’ve covered what to do with GA metrics within AdWords. Now we’re covering what AdWords analyses to run within Google Analytics itself.

Auto-tag your ads

Before we get into the reporting details, let’s start with one piece of technical advice: plan to use auto-tagging on your ads. Save manual tagging for special cases. This will simplify your life and create more reporting flexibility. There are more benefits to auto-tagging than we can get into here, but you should plan on using it.

Analyzing your data directly in Google Analytics will add more dimensions to your AdWords visits. Something as simple as finding non-converting keywords that still bring in above-average quality traffic (low bounce rate, high time-on-site, etc.) can lead to big optimizations for your account. The analyses and reports we’ll look at here are just scratching the surface of what’s possible. We hope they’ll inspire your own unique custom insights as you work with your linked accounts.

 

Segment behavior to understand your AdWords target audience

Google Analytics has a powerful segmentation engine. Instead of looking at your audience in large bunches, you can break it down into its component parts and understand how each part interacts with your site—then bid, message and direct traffic accordingly. (You can even build them for yourself with the Segment builder.)

Tip

Create your own custom segments for even deeper analysis. Or, import additional segments (here are some for Paid Search) to your account from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.

Here’s an example: How do users coming from AdWords react to your site on their first visit? To find out, run a Final URL report in Google Analytics, then segment it by New and Returning Users.

In this case you may also learn which pages on your site could double as good landing pages for AdWords traffic.

You can also learn helpful AdWords lessons from the rest of your traffic. Check out some suggested segments and analyses below that you could run in your account.

Layer Google Analytics' secondary dimensions onto your AdWords-specific reports

Want to know where your most profitable customers come from? Try layering GA’s flexible secondary dimensions onto your AdWords-specific GA reports.

Secondary dimensions in GA work like AdWords segments, except that there are more of them and they’re more flexible.

Tip

Try creating your own custom dimensions if you have information about your logged-in users from outside of Google Analytics, such as from your internal systems. You’ll see how distinct sets of those existing customers perform.

First, pick a question—any question. Then investigate the right dimensions to find the answer. For instance:

Question: Do users behave differently on my site if they came there by clicking an ad from the top of a page?
To find the answer: Add an Ad Slot dimension on your campaign/ad group reports.

Question: Should I add more exact match keywords to my campaigns?
To find the answer: Try Query Match Type layered onto your campaign reports.

Question: Are there certain keywords that perform better on mobile?
To find the answer: Try Device Category layered onto your keyword reports.

Tip

GA reports can also help you determine the right AdWords bid adjustments for location, device and time of day. GA will show you details about acquisition, behavior and conversions to layer on to what you’ll see in AdWords.

Use AdWords secondary dimensions in Google Analytics reports

Now let’s put your AdWords account performance into perspective by layering AdWords secondary dimensions on a Google Analytics report.

No matter which report you run in Analytics, you can add AdWords dimensions onto that report for a deeper level of understanding of your AdWords traffic. These reports will not only be insightful—they’ll help show you what to do directly in AdWords. Determining bid adjustments through a Geographic report is just one example. Think about the reports that you value most in GA and then see what that report can teach you about your AdWords account.

What you learn from those secondary dimensions will show how you how to message to AdWords users and where to send them to on your site.

Note

This report may require you to update your Analytics tracking code.

Use Benchmarking to see how your site stacks up to the competition

Benchmarking reports show how your site stacks up against aggregated industry data from other companies who anonymously share their data. Benchmarks put your performance into context. They help you set meaningful targets, learn about trends in your industry, and see how you compare to the competition.

For example, try benchmarking your Channels to see if you’re driving less paid search traffic than your peers. There may be interested users out there that others are drawing in, but that you haven’t discovered yet.

Tip

Enhanced Ecommerce can help you dig even deeper into your on-site transactions. You’ll learn more about what users view and add to their carts, and what happens when they abandon a purchase.

Recapping the Ideas

We’ve mentioned many different analyses to run in this guide. Here’s a complete list of the ideas we’ve discussed. It’s just a start: use these as inspiration as you think about looking for insights in your own account.

Note

The links in the second column will lead you to the relevant Google Analytics report, so make sure you are signed in when you click them.

Italicized items in this table indicate reports that can also be run within AdWords.

Insight from
Google Analytics
Analysis to Run
(Links are case sensitive)
Dimension or
Segment Added
Are any of my non-converting keywords still driving high quality traffic? Acquisition > AdWords > Keywords
http://goo.gl/4KxIlR
Search for ‘Goal Conversion Rate’ equals zero
Should I add more exact-match keywords to my campaigns to better manage that traffic? Acquisition > AdWords > Campaigns
http://goo.gl/OBHrVX
Query Match Type dimension
Are there certain keywords that perform really well for mobile users? Acquisition > AdWords > Keywords
http://goo.gl/4KxIlR
Device category dimension
Is there behavior beyond on-site conversions that I should factor in as I set my AdWords bid adjustments? Acquisition > AdWords > Bid Adjustments
http://goo.gl/4AVDfa
Choose between Device/ Location/ Ad Schedule
How do first-time users from AdWords react to my site? Acquisition > AdWords > Destination URLs
http://goo.gl/r1lt1F
New and Returning Users segments
Which pages deliver strong Page Values or low bounce rates for my organic traffic? Could they be used as landing pages for AdWords traffic? Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
http://goo.gl/szQs77
Organic or Referral Traffic segment. (You could also create a custom segment with a collection of non-paid channels)
Are my users from AdWords fundamentally different from the rest of my traffic? Should that change my messaging? Audience > Demographics > Age
http://goo.gl/vljc5w
Ad Slot secondary dimension
How does my site handle mobile users compared to my peers? Audience > Benchmarking > Devices
http://goo.gl/x3XMQQ
 
How do my mobile users from AdWords compare to the rest of my mobile users? Audience > Mobile > Overview
http://goo.gl/jZyEGT
Default Channel Grouping dimension
 

Conclusion

We mentioned dogs and tennis balls at the start of this guide. But let’s be clear: linking AdWords with Google Analytics is about a lot more than chasing data back and forth. It’s about finding insights that will give you an edge in the marketplace.

Those insights come from people who don’t convert on your site as much as from those who do. That’s where Google Analytics really shines. It helps you see how your AdWords account does and doesn’t reach the customers you want most. That will help you change your bids, ad copy, even the time and place you run your ads to reach the people who will convert for you.

AdWords and Google Analytics really are better together. Best of all, it’s easy to link them. You can do it right now, right here.

 

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