How to Marry Google Analytics and PPC

Data is a bea-u-tiful thing, especially when you’re talking about marrying the power of Google Analytics (GA) with your PPC data.  With PPC data, you’re focused on the interactions potential customers have until they take the desired conversions you’ve neatly pointed them to.  What queries they searched on.  What queries they clicked on.  What ads they clicked on.  What ads they convert from.  You get the point.

But what happens before they take that action? After they take that action?  How long do they stay? What are they doing on your site? Are they new customers? What devices are they using to get to your site?

All great questions that analytics can help uncover and help you refine and improve your campaigns.

However, before you get too excited about the immense amount of data you can get out of GA for your PPC campaigns, you need to first ensure your PPC data is properly tagged.

While this is a fairly straightforward process as you’ll see below, I’ve found in hundreds of account audits over the years that it’s a process that is often forgotten or, has been done, but not properly.  The scary part is that in some instances, they had no idea the data was being brought in inaccurately and were making big business decisions off of inaccurate data.

To help you avoid this, I’ll be outlining how to ensure you’re properly tagging PPC URLs so that you can trust the data to make decisions.

To ensure AdWords data is brought into GA properly, it’s a simple check of the box:

google analytics check box

For other engines, like adCenter, 7Search, etc. that are not part of the Google family, you need to manually tag your destination URLS with “utm” parameters in order for your PPC data to properly come into GA.

The most important parameters to append are:

  1. utm_source= – This is the engine you’re ads are running on. For example, adCenter.
  2. utm_medium= – This is the type of advertising.  For PPC, you need to use cpc.
  3. utm_term= – This is to identify the keyword.  A bonus tip is to use {QueryString} in the Campaign Term filed to dynamically pull in your keywords.
  4. utm_campaign= – This is to identify the campaign your ads are part of.

I highly recommend using the handy ‘Analytics URL Builder’ to build the parameters.

Here is an example of how your final URL will look:

http://www.seerinteractive.com?utm_source=adcenter&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term={QueryString}&utm_campaign=TEST

Beyond tagging your ad destination URLs, if you are utilizing Sitelinks in AdWords, you more than likely want to know how they are performing for you. tagging adwords

While AdWords provides insight to overall performance of sitelinks by segmenting by Click Type and viewing the Ad Extensions tab the performance is an aggregate of all Sitelinks.

However, performance data at the aggregated level doesn’t tell me much.

I like to think of Sitelinks as “mini” ads.  I want to know which “ad” is performing best and even which keywords are driving performance of my sitelinks.

If you want to truly know WHICH Sitelinks are having the greatest impact on CTR and more importantly, conversions you can manually tag your Sitelink destination URLs.

adwords sitelinks

Similar to the example above for tagging destination URLs outside of AdWords, you can append specific Sitelink parameters to get performance by individual sitelink.  You can also get as granular as keyword and match type performance by each individual sitelink.

Here are the parameters you will need to append:

  • origin=sitelinkname – This is to identify the sitelink.

keyword={keyword} – This is to identify the keyword.
matchtype={matchtype}  – This is to identify the keyword match type.

(Note: Use a ? to append the first parameter if you have no other parameters in your URL. If there are other parameters use &.)

 Here is what your final URL will look like:
www.seerinteractive.com?origin=sitelinkA&keyword={keyword}&matchtype={matchtype}

Now that we’ve covered the critical step of ensuring the data you’re putting into GA is accurate so you can trust the data coming out of GA, stay tuned for my next post on the top ways to use GA for your PPC campaigns!

About Crystal Anderson

Crystal (Anderson) O’Neill (@Crystala) is the PPC division lead for SEER Interactive, a Philadelphia based Digital Marketing Agency.  Prior to joining SEER in 2007, she worked at an International Media Agency as the VP of Business development, where she focused on developing and managing international media and PPC campaigns.

As the PPC division lead, Crystal oversees a team of experienced PPC search professional to ensure they are strategically using search as a means to drive leads and sales for local, national and international businesses across industries, from B2B and Education, to E-commerce and Entertainment. Crystal has dedicated herself to ensuring the PPC division is at the forefront of the industry and is executing strategic tactics that drive a positive ROI for all clients.

Crystal has spoken at industry conferences including HeroConf and Acquisio User Summit, and has been featured in various industry blogs such as PPC Hero, WordStream and BoostCTR.

SEER has been working with Acquisio since 2008 and my favorite feature is the customized reporting.  It has saved our team countless hours over the years, allowing them to spend time on the strategy that drives results for our clients.

Comments

  1. Hi Crystal,
    Great basic tips. Is there a way I track the Sitelinks in Google Analytics once the glid parameter will overcome the utm parameters ? The insight you gave about tracking sitelink just work for the site log, correct ?
    thank you

  2. Crystal says:

    Hi Paulo,

    Thanks for checking out the post! The above tips on tracking sitelinks are for Google Analytics – if you append those parameters and use autotagging the data will still be brought into GA correctly.. You can filter your ‘Landing pages’ in GA for ‘origin’ then to quickly see just your Sitelink performance. Hope that helps!

  3. Crystal,

    Actually The Title Seems funny :) Without Google Analytics reports We can’t use Adword campaign Properly. Because Every PPC campaign Managers Getting Their Intelegince reports from GA stats. It’s really nice Tips.

  4. Javier says:

    Hi!

    Thank you for this guide. I just would like to know more about how I can properly setup GA with 7search. I’d like to be able to track 7search’s subid’s that are not converting using GA so I can block them.

    7search allows me to use the following parameters:

    ###AFFID###
    ###RID###
    ###KEYWORD###

    Where will I put these parameters in the url builder?

    How will my tracking url look like when it’s setup?

    Thank you so much.

  5. Jeff Gonzalez beauty schools says:

    When this is misunderstood it is a total recipe for disaster. How many would agree that these two need consistently be used transparently for Ppc to be successful?

  6. Derek says:

    Have you ever had an issue when it shows that the amount made and the number of conversions does not match between google analytics and AdWords?

  7. Hi Derek, this happens often. The reason is that, at the end of a 24-hour period, AdWords looks at the clicks you got and assesses those that might be fraudulent (bots and the like) or should not be counted in your account for some reason. The change is then made at that time, but the change is not reflected in Analytics. You’ll see a vast difference if you have a lot of traffic. This is a somewhat simplified answer, and you can get much better info from Google here: http://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1034383

  8. Ranjan Jena says:

    Thanks crystal for sharing the sitelinks tagging strategy outside of Adwords. It was very helpful. Yes, tagging or tracking is one of the most important need while running online marketing.

  9. Nice article Crystal, might start investing in some Adwords as well, to boost my marketing efforts.

    Cheers

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