Do I have a technical problem with Clicks and Sessions?

In this article:

How can I verify a clicks / sessions technical issue exists?

To see which campaigns are potentially responsible:

  1. Open the Google Ads Campaigns report (Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaigns).
  2. At the top of the Explorer tab, click Clicks.
  3. Above the graph, click Select a metric, expand Clicks, then select the Clicks metric. The graph gives you timelines for both Sessions and Clicks. Use the graph to explore the duration of the issue.
  4. Use the table in the report to compare Sessions and Clicks for each campaign.

Tracking code incorrectly configured or missing from landing pages

If the Analytics tracking code is incorrectly configured or missing on a landing page, then Analytics counts a click but no corresponding session.

You can use Google Tag Assistant to verify that the correct Analytics account is installed on your landing pages).

Redirects that remove or modify the auto-tagging parameter

Auto-tagging is strongly recommended. You can use the instructions here to determine if auto-tagging works with your Destination URLs.

Mobile Targeting

A common cause of the auto-tagging parameter being removed from URLs is due to mobile-device targeting (or mobile-based websites). For example, if you direct all Google Ads traffic to:

www.example.com,

you may redirect all mobile traffic to:

m.example.com

We have seen many cases where this redirect causes the gclid parameter to get dropped.

Best Practices

If there are no obvious technical issues e.g., redirects or missing tracking code from landing pages, and you have verified the tracking code is working using Tag Assistant or Chrome Developer Tools, the next things to look at are some best practices around tracking code setup.

We have often found that the ratio of clicks-to-sessions can be greatly improved by making sure the Analytics tracking code is located within the <head></head> section of the HTML document.

If you refer back to Figure 1a in (Why Clicks and Sessions won't match), you’ll notice that several processes must take place between the click and the session, and that this latency (time delay) can mean that users who bounce (click the browser's back button) before Analytics can create sessions that lead to what’s referred to as a short-click, i.e., a valid click, but no registered corresponding session.

We strongly encourage you to migrate to Universal Analytics and upgrade your tracking code from the traditional (ga.js) to the newer universal (analytics.js) tracking script for web-based tracking. The newest analytics.js script has a lighter footprint thanks to it's modular framework as well as many other new features and improvements. We also strongly recommend that you explore ways to decrease your page-load times as this may also lead to improved click-to-session ratios.

Mobile

We have also come across instances where due to slower 3G Mobile Networks, clicks from Mobile devices may result in a lower-than-Desktop session ratio. In particular, developing nations and their mobile networks often have more pronounced latency issues that can lead to lower tracked session rates.

Tracking Code Customizations

We have noticed a common pattern when users report clicks-and-sessions discrepancies. Upon investigating the tracking-code configuration on their websites, we often find Analytics implemented in a non-standard fashion.

Support for customizations, especially heavily customized ones, is very limited. If you are experiencing issues with clicks and sessions when using a customized implementation, we may recommend reverting to a standard implementation.

Troubleshoot clicks and sessions issues

To identify and solve issues with discrepancies between Google Ads clicks and Analytics sessions, try this troubleshooter.

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?