[UA] Tag your Google Ads final URLs [Legacy]

You are viewing a legacy article about Universal Analytics. Learn more about Google Analytics 4 replacing Universal Analytics.
This article is about tagging your Google Ads final URLs in Universal Analytics. For information about tagging your Google Ads final URLs in Google Analytics 4, go to [GA4] Tag your Google Ads final URLs.

In order for Analytics to display details about keywords and costs from your linked Google Ads account, you must do one of the following:

  • Enable auto-tagging. This is the recommended approach and ensures that you get the most detailed Google Ads data.
  • Manually tag all your keyword final URLs with tracking variables. You should only do this in the special cases outlined below.

We strongly recommend that you use auto-tagging.

In this article:

How auto-tagging works

Auto-tagging automatically imports Google Ads data into Analytics. Combining Google Ads data with the rich post-click information provided by Analytics allows you to see what happened on your site after people clicked on your ads.

When you enable auto-tagging, a parameter called gclid is added to your landing page URL when a user clicks over to your site from an ad. For example, if your site is www.example.com, when a user clicks on your ad it appears in the address bar as:


Enable auto-tagging

To enable/disable auto-tagging:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Settings.
  3. Click the Account settings tab above the table.
  4. Click the Auto-tagging section.
  5. To enable auto-tagging, select Tag the URL that people click through from my ad.
    To disable auto-tagging, clear the selection.
  6. Click Save.
Learn more about the benefits of auto-tagging.

Special cases

Your website doesn't allow arbitrary URL parameters

A small percentage of websites do not allow arbitrary URL parameters and serve an error page when auto-tagging is turned on. Consult with your webmaster to find out if this is the case, or you can perform a brief test to see if your website allows arbitrary parameters. If you get an error, you may need to ask your webmaster to allow arbitrary URL parameters.

To check if an arbitrary URL parameter can be persisted to your landing page, follow these instructions:

  1. Copy the landing page URL from your Google Ads Landing pages page and paste into your browser.
  2. Add a test URL parameter manually.
  3. Navigate to the page by pressing enter.
  4. Check to see if the parameter you entered is still present in the URL box and the page loads successfully.
Let’s say your landing page is: example.com/foo
Paste this into your URL box and add a test URL parameter (e.g., "bar"). Note that you need to prepend the parameter with a question mark (?), if there are no preceding question marks in the URL:

If there is a preceding question mark, you need to preprend the parameter with an ampersand:

When you navigate to this URL, take a look and make sure you see "bar=Tester123" in the URL box. Note that your "bar" parameter is case-sensitive and should appear the same across all pages on your site.
Note: If you have other URL parameters, the "bar” should come after those parameters but before any fragments (also called "named anchors" and indicated by the presence of a #). It should look something like this:

If allowing URL parameters is not a workable solution, you can tag your links manually. However, manual tagging can be time consuming and will only allow you to see a subset of Google Ads data.

Use caution when manually tagging your links:

  • Tag your actual final URLs with parameters. If you try to use a redirect from a final URL to another URL + parameters, your Google Ads data won't be transmitted to Analytics.
  • Remember to disable auto-tagging. If you unintentionally mix manual and auto-tagging, you're likely to encounter data discrepancies.

You need to use auto-tagging for non-Analytics purposes

If you need to (1) turn on auto-tagging in your Google Ads account for purposes other than Analytics tracking and (2) you want to use manual tagging for Analytics, then you must enable the auto-tagging override setting to avoid data discrepancies:

  1. Sign in to your Analytics account.
  2. Click Admin and navigate to the relevant property.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click Property Settings.
  4. Under Advanced Settings, select Allow manual tagging (UTM values) to override auto-tagging (GCLID values).
  5. Click Save.
  • Enabling the auto-tagging override option is necessary only when your Google Ads and Analytics accounts are linked.
  • If you have a standard (free) Analytics account, enabling this setting can result in sampling for some of your Google Ads reports.
  • If you have linked your Search Ads 360 account to your Analytics account, then this setting will also apply to all clicks coming from search campaigns managed in Search Ads 360.
  • Manual tags with UTM override are not supported in Multi-Channel Funnels or Multi-Channel Funnels Attribution reports.
  • The utm_term parameter is not compatible with Dynamic Search Ads. If you include utm_term in your manually tagged URLs, then the related search term / keyword that appears in Analytics reports is "Dynamic Search Ads".
  • If you have enabled auto-tagging in your Google Ads account without linking that Google Ads account to your Analytics account, then Analytics reports use UTM values when they're available. If neither Source nor Medium is set, then Analytics defaults to google/cpc.
  • If you rename a campaign in Google Ads after you've enabled the auto-tagging override option, your Analytics reports will show multiple entries for the same campaign (both the old and new campaign names). This is because Analytics records the campaign name at the time of the Google Ads click and attributes traffic to that campaign name regardless of what the campaign is currently named. 

This setting enables Analytics reports to use the UTM values for Source, Campaign, Term, and Content that you've specified via manual tagging. You must specify utm_source for the override to take effect. If utm_source is empty, then Analytics will still auto-tag and not respect any of the UTM values specified in the URL.

Once you've enabled the override feature, Analytics will give preference to values provided in UTM parameters over auto-tagged values. If a parameter is not specified in the URL, then Analytics will use the auto-tagged value.


You specify:

  • utm_source=google
  • utm_campaign=foo

Analytics reports use:

  • Campaign = "foo"
  • Auto-tagged values for all other parameters:
    • medium = "cpc"
    • term = [auto-tagged value from Google Ads]
    • content = [auto-tagged value from Google Ads]

In addition, Analytics also continues to join these click through sessions with Google Ads Clicks, as long as Source and Medium are not changed from google and cpc, respectively. As a result, you can:

  • Access richer data in some Analytics reports, such as Final URL, Shopping Campaigns, and Video Campaigns.
  • Import Analytics goals and transactions into Google Ads conversion tracking.
  • Import Analytics data to Google Ads reports.
Note: Google Ads metrics (Impressions, Clicks, and Cost) will be reported as 0 for the manual UTM values, and will instead be reported under the auto-tagged values.

For example, consider a campaign ("GoogleAds_C") in Google Ads, which has 100 clicks and a cost of 10.


Campaign Clicks Cost
GoogleAds_C 100 10


If you've overriden "GoogleAds_C" to "Foo", you'll see the following in Analytics: "GoogleAds_C" will have 0 sessions but will have 100 clicks and a cost of 10. "Foo" will have 80 sessions but will show 0 clicks and a cost of 0.


Campaign Sessions Clicks Cost
GoogleAds_C 0 100 10
Foo 80 0 0

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