Common Issues

Data discrepancies between AdWords and Analytics

Overview

All of the AdWords reports in Google Analytics import data directly from the AdWords system, and they usually match the data in your AdWords account exactly. There are, however, circumstances under which the data can differ:

  • Comparing long date ranges may include periods during which your accounts were not linked.
  • Linking multiple AdWords accounts to the same Analytics view complicates the information in your reports.
  • Filters may remove some of the data from your Analytics reports. Check that there are no filters editing your campaign destination URLs.
  • AdWords data is imported into Analytics at the time you view your report, so data is current as of the most recent hour.
Discrepancies in Clicks and Sessions

There are a number of reasons why AdWords and Analytics may report different numbers of clicks and sessions:

  • Clicks are not the same as Sessions
    Google AdWords tracks clicks, while Google Analytics tracks sessions. If a user clicks on your ad twice within thirty minutes without closing his or her browser, this is registered by Analytics as one session, even if the user left your site and then returned shortly after. For example, if a user clicks on your ad once, clicks the back button, and then clicks your ad again, AdWords registers two clicks while Analytics registers one session.
  • AdWords filters invalid clicks from your report, while Analytics shows all data
    AdWords automatically filters certain clicks from your reports, while Analytics reports on all the resulting sessions. The clicks we filter from your AdWords reports are the occasional instances of someone clicking repeatedly on your ad in order to increase your costs or to increase your clickthrough rate. AdWords considers these clicks to be invalid and automatically filters them from your AdWords reports. You are not charged for these potentially invalid clicks.
  • You turned off auto-tagging for your URLs in your AdWords account
    If auto-tagging is turned off, and you did not manually tag the destination URLs with campaign tracking variables, the traffic is not marked as Google CPC (clicks that came through from AdWords ads), but instead may be attributed to Google Organic (clicks from natural search results on Google.com). Ensure that your AdWords account either has auto-tagging turned on or has campaign tracking variables appended to the end of every destination URL.

    To enable auto-tagging again:
    1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
    2. Click the My account tab, and select Preferences.
    3. In the Tracking section, click Edit.
    4. Select the Destination URL Auto-tagging checkbox.
    5. Click Save changes.
  • Make sure your AdWords Import & Export Settings are correct
    If you are sure the accounts are linked and you still do not see click or cost data, check to make sure that you have selected the option to import the data from the linked account to the view in question. Learn how to edit your AdWords Import & Export Settings.
  • Your site has a server side URL rewrite
    Adding additional parameters to your URL may cause your rewrite rule to break. A small percentage of websites do not allow arbitrary parameters in the URL and consequently serve error pages when you include those parameters. We suggest that you lobby your webmaster to allow arbitrary URL parameters.
  • Your landing page might redirect to a different page
    Redirects in landing pages can often keep the Google Analytics code from launching and properly identifying the traffic as having come from a paid search campaign. For example, if your ad leads to http://www.mydomain.com/index.html, but you've created a 301, 302, or JavaScript redirect from that URL to http://www.mydomain.com/page2.html, the campaign information that was originally appended to the landing page is lost upon redirection. Learn how to track redirecting pages.
  • Make sure the landing page for your ads is being tracked
    If the landing page for your ads is not being tracked, your campaign information is not passed to Analytics. Ensure that you are tracking all landing pages for your AdWords ads.
  • Users might have set their browser preferences in ways that prevent Google Analytics used on websites from collecting data
    Users entering your website through AdWords might have JavaScript or images turned off, or might use other technologies preventing Google Analytics from reporting about your website users (such as by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on). In some cases, Google Analytics might not be able to report these users, but they are reported through AdWords.
  • Make sure your landing page is able to load the code properly
    Clicks reported on Google AdWords but not on Google Analytics may be the result of an obstruction between the Google AdWords click event and the ability to load the tracking code on the landing page. If this is the case, ensure that your web hosting servers are functioning properly, the page is loading for all possible users and IPs, and the tracking code is installed correctly on your web pages. Learn how to check that you've installed the Analytics code properly. 
  • Users return during the lifetime of a campaign
    During the lifetime of a given campaign, a returning user to your site is attributed to that one campaign. In such cases, you can expect to see more sessions than clicks. To see the number sessions from returning users, cross-segment the campaign by User Type.
  • Users return to your site via bookmarks
    Analytics uses the gclid parameter in your Destination URLs to identify traffic from AdWords ads. The gclid parameter shows up in your landing page URL when a user arrives at your site from your ad. For example, if your site is www.example.com, when a user clicks on your ad, it appears in the address bar as:

    www.example.com/?gclid=123xyz

    If users bookmark your website along with the gclid parameter, Analytics records traffic from these bookmarks arriving from your AdWords ads. However, AdWords doesn't record the clicks (and advertisers are not charged for these sessions since they're actual clicks on the ads).
  • Server latency
    If a user comes to your site from an ad, and then leaves the landing page before the tracking code executes, then the gclid parameter is never passed to the Google servers, and that click is not associated with the session. The result is a clicks vs. sessions discrepancy.
Discrepancies in the Conversion Rate

In Analytics, the Conversion Rate indicates the percentage of users that convert on at least one of the Goals you have defined for that view. This rate, shown in the Goals reports, is different than the AdWords Conversion Rate you see in your AdWords account. In AdWords, the Conversion Rate refers to the percent of clicks that end in an AdWords conversion, defined by the AdWords Conversion Tracking code. Please refer to the following article for more information on the differences between these two types of conversion tracking.

Read Comparing Analytics and AdWords conversions metrics to get the perspective from the Google Analytics Technical Support and Premium sales team.