There are very powerful reports available in Google Analytics when you link in your Google Ads account.  These will lead to better marketing decision making based on better data.

Google is Search

Google has managed to lead the search industry for several decades now.  In the early days of the Internet, there were plenty of arguments over what was the best search tool.  Alta Vista lead the way for a while.  Others preferred Yahoo. Some got into Ask Jeeves.  MSN Search had a good foothold for a while (later becoming Bing).  But, for as hard as many of these tried, none of them became a verb.  Now if you want to look up something on the internet, you “Google it”.  With somewhere around 90% market share, Google is simply the way we find information.  Largely that is due to two factors.  The have the largest database of information, and their ability to produce the most relevant results.  In practice, Google is search.

Why Linking Matters

For marketers, Google has been a resource for unbelievable amounts of performance data for our websites.  While Google was constructing the best search algorithm, they were also providing marketers with powerful ways to track performance.  In Google Analytics they have given us a free website statistics package.  Yes, free.  Just sign up for a free account, add the tracking code, and you have access to statistics on your website visitors.

Now consider why you use Google Ads.  To drive traffic from Google searches to your website.  Google Ads has it’s own performance date reports you can view on your campaign performance.

But these are two separate sets of data (Google Analytics and Google Ads), making it difficult to determine what your best marketing efforts actually are.  Well, actually not.  Just link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account and your data-driven decision making will get more obvious.

How To Link

Linking to your Google Ads account from your Google Analytics account should take you less than 10 minutes.  We are assuming that your Google account (the account you sign into) has administrator rights for both your Google Analytics account your Google Ad account.

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics and select the website account you want to link
  2. Click the Admin link, it’s that gear symbol in the lower left corner
  3. Using the middle column of choices, choose the property you want to link, normally this will be the default property already displayed.
  4. In that middle column, under PRODUCT LINKING, click Google Ads Linking.
  5. Click + NEW LINK GROUP (the red button)
  6. Select the Google Ads accounts you want to link, Google will display the Google Ads accounts you have permissions to access.  Click Continue.
  7. You can name the link group, easiest to remember if you just use the website name.

How to Use the Data

With Google Ads linked to your Google Analytics account, you have the data to help determine which sources of traffic are producing the results you want and the data is in one place, Google Analytics.  One of our favorite reports is the Source/Medium report.  To see this report, click Acquisition – All Traffic – Source/Medium.   This report will show you where your traffic is coming from and some key traffic behaviour stats for each Source/Medium combination of traffic.

Where this gets really powerful is if you have set up Goals in your Analytics account.  Goal tracking in Analytics is a way to report on the occurrence of the most important outcomes on your website, such a customers making a purchase, or filling out a form, consuming certain types of content, or other important performance criteria.  If you haven’t yet set up Goal tracking, don’t worry, we are going to cover that in an article in the not too far off future.

With Goals set up, you can quickly look at these report to see what traffic sources are leading to Goal completions.  Your Source/Medium combinations are likely to include referral traffic, social media referral traffic, direct traffic, organic search traffic and your Google Ads traffic.  It is these last two that will really tell you how your efforts invested and your dollars invested are producing the results you want.  If your organic traffic sources are driving half the traffic of your Google Ads traffic but are leading to more Goal conversions, then you need to address the Google Ads campaign performance.  You are likely wasting marketing dollars on ads that are not bringing the right traffic.  Conversely, if your Google Ads are far out performing your organic traffic sources then increasing your investment in Google Ads should result in more of the outcomes you are after.

Another very useful report is the Keywords report.  You can find it in Acquisition – Google Ads – Keywords.  Here you will see the traffic quality stats of your Google Ads keywords.  It is one of the best places to determine if your Google Ads campaign keywords are bringing you solid targeted traffic, or if you are just paying for traffic.  Low bounce rates and high pages per session are good indicators that the click through traffic is finding valuable information on your site.  Of course, if the keyword traffic is leading to Goal completions then this particular keyword is definitely bringing the type of traffic you want.

In conclusion, linking your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account requires less than 10 minutes of effort and the data that will be available in Google Analytics will be extremely valuable.  You will be able to compare the value of all your traffic sources, leading to your Goals, as well as more detailed comparisons to help identify the top quality keywords in your Google Ad campaigns.

Spend the 10 minutes today.  You will be glad you did.