Optimizing Google Ads with Google Analytics: Google Best Practices
Analyze Google Ads campaigns with insights from Google Analytics
You’ll get high-performance insights into your ads and your website when you integrate your Google Analytics account with Google Ads.
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 Google Ads 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 Google Ads 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.)
Here’s an example: How do users coming from Google Ads 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 Google Ads traffic.
You can also learn helpful Google Ads 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 Google Ads-specific reports
Want to know where your most profitable customers come from? Try layering GA’s flexible secondary dimensions onto your Google Ads-specific GA reports.
Secondary dimensions in GA work like Google Ads segments, except that there are more of them and they’re more flexible.
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.
GA reports can also help you determine the right Google Ads 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 Google Ads.
Use Google Ads secondary dimensions in Google Analytics reports
Now let’s put your Google Ads account performance into perspective by layering Google Ads secondary dimensions on a Google Analytics report.
No matter which report you run in Analytics, you can add Google Ads dimensions onto that report for a deeper level of understanding of your Google Ads traffic. These reports will not only be insightful—they’ll help show you what to do directly in Google Ads. 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 Google Ads account.
What you learn from those secondary dimensions will show you how to message Google Ads users and where to send them to on your site.
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.
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.
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 Google Ads.
|Analysis to Run
(Links are case sensitive)
|Are any of my non-converting keywords still driving high quality traffic?||Acquisition > Google Ads > Keywords
|Search for ‘Goal Conversion Rate’ equals zero|
|Should I add more exact-match keywords to my campaigns to better manage that traffic?||Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaigns
|Query Match Type dimension|
|Are there certain keywords that perform really well for mobile users?||Acquisition > Google Ads > Keywords
|Device category dimension|
|Is there behavior beyond on-site conversions that I should factor in as I set my Google Ads bid adjustments?||Acquisition > Google Ads > Bid Adjustments
|Choose between Device/ Location/ Ad Schedule|
|How do first-time users from Google Ads react to my site?||Acquisition > Google Ads > Destination URLs
|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 Google Ads traffic?||Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
|Organic or Referral Traffic segment. (You could also create a custom segment with a collection of non-paid channels)|
|Are my users from Google Ads fundamentally different from the rest of my traffic? Should that change my messaging?||Audience > Demographics > Age
|Ad Slot secondary dimension|
|How does my site handle mobile users compared to my peers?||Audience > Benchmarking > Devices
|How do my mobile users from Google Ads compare to the rest of my mobile users?||Audience > Mobile > Overview
|Default Channel Grouping dimension|
We mentioned dogs and tennis balls at the start of this guide. But let’s be clear: linking Google Ads 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 Google Ads 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.
Google Ads and Google Analytics really are better together. Best of all, it’s easy to link them. You can do it right now, right here.