Google Ads Conversion Showdown

Google Ads Conversion Showdown

When it comes to tracking Google Ads conversions from your website there are two options:

  1. Website: Insert code on a conversion page on your website, or
  2. Import: Set and import your goal from Google Analytics.

Let’s take a close look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Insert Code on Website Conversion Page

Google most likely names this conversion tracking option ‘Website’ because it requires you to post code on one of your website pages.

Copy and Paste Your Website Code

This conversion tracking methods requires you to place Google Ads code on your website conversion page. The ‘conversion page’ is the page where your conversion action is confirmed. On an e-commerce website for example, the conversion page would be the order confirmation page; on a lead generation website, the conversion page would be the thank you page.

This option of website tracking is very simple if you know and understand HTML. Without that HTML knowledge, this tracking method has several trap doors:

  • Code does not work because it’s in the wrong place on the page
  • The code is placed on too pages, so conversions are irrelevant
  • Limited to only tracking Google Ads conversions – no social media, SEO, or other conversion sources.

Only tracks Google Ads

This is a nice choice if you are generating website traffic solely from Google Ads. But let’s face it, you have more traffic sources than Google Ads: SEO, email, social media, etc. Tracking information from these traffic sources comes from Google Analytics. That means your Google Ads tracking is an island, not tracked in Google Analytics.

When to use Website Conversion Tracking

In my opinion… never.

This conversion tracking is restricted only to Google Ads, making it difficult to compare with other website traffic sources like social media, SEO, email blasts, etc. Furthermore, unless a knowledgeable technical person is loading the code, there’s a risk of it being improperly implemented, which results in meaningless conversion information.

While this Conversion Tracking option looks easy, there is a minefield of possible mistakes if you do not know HTML and exactly where the code should be placed on the specific page.

Table 1 Summary Google Ads Website Conversion Tracking

Pros Cons
Looks easy Tracks only Google Ads
Need to know HTML so code inserted properly
Code must be inserted in correct place on page
Doesn’t track other conversions made on your website (ex: email clicks, phone number clicks)

Import Goal from Google Analytics

Google Analytics is free website tracking software that tells you about your website audience—the pages they visit, the buttons they clicked and a lot more. Most significantly, Google Analytics will tell you if people did what you wanted them to do on your website—made a purchase, became a sales lead, signed up for your newsletter, etc.

Anything you want people to do on your website is called a goal in Google Analytics. So, whatever you want people to do should be set up as a goal.

The biggest advantage of using ‘Import goal from Google Analytics’ is you can compare Google Ads’ performance to your other traffic sources: SEO, direct, email, social media, etc. Just look at the screenshot below taken directly from Google Analytics. You can see the number of sessions and the number of times website users became sales leads by requesting contact with the company.

This is an instant website traffic source comparison, valuable to any business.

Even better, notice the drop-down arrows on ‘Sessions’ and ‘Request contact Goal 3 Completions’. Those dropdown arrows enable comparison by any metric!

The ability to compare traffic sources against each other is invaluable. So is the ability to compare many different metrics. This is the kind of data that provides significant insights into marketing campaigns.

The biggest challenge of ‘Importing’ conversions to Google Ads is that you need to set up ‘Goals’ in Google Analytics, but that only takes a few minutes and generally is a non-technical procedure.

Table 2 Summary Google Ads ‘Import’ Conversion Tracking

Pros Cons
Tracks all traffic sources (social media, SEO, email, etc.) in a single place Must setup goals in Google Analytics (which you should do anyway)
Google Ads easily imports goals from Analytics
Do not have to know HTML
Enables multiple conversions to be grouped together (‘contact’ via form completion, phone or email can be grouped together)

When to use the ‘Import Goals from Google Analytics’ for Google Ads Conversions

In my opinion… always.

Hopefully the reasons for importing goals from Google Analytics makes this your choice for conversion tracking. It will make your life a lot easier! Setting it up can be done in three easy steps:

  1. Set your goals in Google Analytics.
  2. Link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts.
  3. Import your goal(s) to Google Ads.

This is a much more comprehensive way to track your Google Ads conversions. You will be glad you did it!

Marketing Tracking Rescues a Bad Website

Marketing Tracking Rescues a Bad Website

This customer had received some State funding for digital marketing, and they were anxious to strut their stuff on Google AdWords. But before they started spending their advertising grant money, I recommended multiple changes to their site. Their response was, “that’s what the other two guys (my competitors) said too.”
The business owner claimed the website was “good enough” and just wanted to get started before the State withdrew the grant money (which had no chance of expiring for six months).

The budget was $2,000 per month, so away we went with advertising on Google AdWords.

After the first month, there were no leads, and the dashboard showed these indicators:

Key Indicators from the Dashboard

  • 83% bounce rate (ideal bounce rate is between 40% and 60%)
  • 2 pages/session (ideal is 2–5 pages/session)
  • 48 seconds/session (ideal is 120–240 seconds/session, or 2–4 minutes)
  • 0 sales leads

I recommended we stop advertising and fix the site.  The “The site’s good enough” argument persisted.

Each week after the first month, the data was showing no indication of improvement. After four more weeks (2 full months and $4,000 spent) the owner agreed to stop.

We spent the next month rewriting many pages and restructuring some of the top navigation items. When we resumed the advertising after that month, the dashboard indicators changed dramatically:

  • 53% bounce rate (eventually the bounce rate came under 48%)
  • 7 pages/session
  • 189 seconds/session (3:15 minutes)


Getting traffic to your website is one thing, but your website has to be able to generate sales leads (or direct sales for ecommerce sites). If it’s not able to do that, fix the site before advertising.

This post is part of the Dashboard Discoveries Series where customers learn from the Bird’s Eye Marketing’s AdWords and Website reporting dashboard.

How to Plan For Google Analytics Events

How to Plan For Google Analytics Events

In a previous post, (The Clicks Google Analytics Does Not Report) we introduced Google Analytics events. Events happen when there is a website click that does not change the page; for example clicking a video, a link to another website, a file download, or even a button.

Event Requirements

Each, event must have a category and an action, and there’s an option to add a label.

Planning Website Events with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics

Let’s look at ways you can ‘plan’ your website events, and provide your website developer clear instructions so that click data is transferred to Google Analytics in a way you will understand.

What to Track as an Event

Here are some events I always track:

  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Form completions
  • Email subscriptions
  • Purchases (ecommerce)
  • Video starts

Some or all of the items listed above may apply to you. Just remember, when it comes to event tracking, the possibilities are endless. But that doesn’t mean you have to track inconsequential things like a file download.

Once you’ve identified everything you want to track, the next step is to decide how you want each event to appear in Google Analytics. Each item must have a category and action, so it’s important to name them in such a way that you will know what they mean when you see them in your Google Analytics reports.

Here’s an example. There are three ways people can contact us through a website: Completing a contact form, clicking on a phone number, or clicking the email address. For all three, the category is contact.

Event Appearance in Google Analytics Reports

Google Analytics reports Categories, Actions and Labels in the “Behaviour” reports on the left navigation:

Behavior > Events > Top Events

This allows for grouping when doing analysis; for example, tracking when people contact you via the phone, completing a form, or email. A click on any of these three items has the category ‘contact.’

Naming Convention Matters

The naming convention used for Category, Action, and Label is important because that impacts how information appears in your Google Analytics Reports. The reports need to be easily understood by anyone looking at them. There should be no guesswork involved.

The table below is an example of tag naming convention:

Table 1 Google Analytics Event Naming Convention

Item Number Item to Track Location on the website Category Action Label
1 Email subscription form submission Contact Us Page FormCompletion EmailSubscribe
2 Email Clicks (user clicks on an email) Across website Contact Email {send to email address}
3 Phone Number Clicks Header and Contact page Contact Phone Phone number clicked
4 File downloads Across website Download File type File Name
5 Outbound  Links Across website OutboundLink WebsiteName DestinationURL
6 Linked In Icon Header Social Media Linked In
7 Video starts Across website Video Start Title & Link

Role of Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a free product that collects click data (category, action and label) on your website and sends it to Google Analytics.

In Google Tag Manager, you will set your event naming as identified in the table above. However, although Google presents GTM as “easy to use,” it’s not always so. In short, that some HTML and Java Script knowledge is required, which is why I often recommend working with a website developer to make your tags are correctly configured in Google Tag Manager.

Working with Your Website Developer

You should be able to give your website developer a table similar to the one in this post. From there, they should be able to create the tags in a few hours if they have worked with Google Tag Manager before. If they have not, it may take them a bit longer, but for technical people I’ve heard it’s pretty easy.

Find Your Event Data

Your event data will be in Google Analytics under Behavior > Events.

Now it’s your turn. Let me know how your event tagging goes for your website.

Segmented Google Analytics Audiences: Your Pandora’s Box to Remarketing

What are your customers doing on your website the first time they visit? Are they looking at specific pages? Putting items into a cart, but not following through with the purchase? Maybe they’re reading your Contact page, but not getting in touch.

That’s ok. Most website visitors don’t become customers right out of the ‘Pandora’s Box,’ so to speak. To convert their interest into a sale, they will need to return to your site.

Remarketing is a very effective and inexpensive way to remind them to return to your site through Google Adwords. But targeting every visitor who lands on any page on your site may not be the most effective way to increase sales.

A better use of your advertising dollars is to set up Segmented Audiences. By targeting only visitors who meet a certain criteria, you are increasing the chances they’ll return and ultimately become a customer.

The more you segment your audiences in Google Analytics, the more targeted your advertising can be. When it comes to remarketing, Google Analytics provides plenty of audience creation options.

Audiences are created using the Audience Builder in your Google Analytics. Navigate from Admin (lower left side navigation panel) > Property > Audience Definitions.

The first audience is always ‘All Users.’ If your All User audience is not set up, follow these instructions.  

Once you have your ‘All Users’ audience, go to the ‘Audiences’ home page.

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Opening Pandora’s Box of Remarketing

There are multiple combinations of audiences you can choose from. The more targeted your audience, the more precise your remarketing campaign will be.

Google Analytics’ ‘Audience Builder’ lets you go deep with segmentation. Let’s take a look at some remarketing audiences you can choose from:

Custom Audience Targeting

If you don’t like any of the standard choices below, you can always just build a custom audience to suit your needs by using the ‘Conditions’ on the Audience Builder home page. You will be amazed at the options available.

I have built many custom audiences to remarket to visitors who:

  • Abandoned their shopping cart;
  • Abandoned the Contact Us page without completing the form; or
  • Visited a group of product or service pages.
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This is a powerful audience option because it’s based on what people actually did on your website.

You can target website visitors by:

  • Number of sessions – Visitors coming to your site a lot are likely considering a purchase, but something is ‘holding them back.’ This is the perfect time to give them an offer they can’t refuse.
  • Session Duration (per user or per session) — An indication of website engagement. The longer they are on your site, the more engaged they are with your brand.
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Date of First Session

This targets people who visited your website during a specific time period (holiday period, special promotion period, etc.).  Simply select your desired start and end dates.

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Traffic Sources

Traffic sources are based on Campaign, Medium, Source or Keyword (taken from UTM Parameters) from previous marketing programs.

Using these traffic sources allows you to retarget people who have visited your website from other campaigns run in the past.

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Technology-Based Audiences

This is a great option if you need to reach website visitors who have visited your website with specific technology types. As you can see, it gets quite detailed, from operating systems to browsers (even browser versions), screen resolutions, mobile device brand, and a lot more.

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Demographic Audience Targeting

Despite being, well… boring, demographics are a staple in many advertising programs. This audience builder lets you pick through your standard demographic criteria:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Location (city, province / state, city)

The remaining criteria pull their designations for Google AdWords.

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Just Remember: Minimum Audience Size for Google Remarketing

Google likes big audiences. It takes a minimum of 100 users over 30 days to make presenting ads economical for you and them. So as you set up your remarketing audiences, check to see how many of your website users meet your criteria).  If it’s too small, don’t bother.

Keyword Strategies for Attracting Buyers at Different Buying Stages

Keyword Strategies for Attracting Buyers at Different Buying Stages

With all the options and information available online nowadays, few people purchase a product or service immediately after finding it. Instead, they will go through several Buying Stages: Information Search, Evaluation of Alternatives, and Ready to Buy.

Each of these buying stages results in a different ‘Moment of Search,’ which is the moment when someone Googles their problem.

Obviously, showing up in these searches gives you a better chance of turning a visitor into a customer, but targeting them at the right buying stage increases your chances of getting the sale that much more.

Google searches are driven by keywords, but what keywords are used will change depending on where the buyer is in the buying cycle. A buyer just starting out, who has little knowledge of the product or service they need, will use general keywords to describe their problem. A more educated buyer will use more specific keywords that match their needs or desired features.

Where your website gets listed on Google is driven by your keyword strategy. Understanding buyer stages and keyword use will not only make it easier for your website to get found, but can help determine at which buying stage your website is listed in the search results:

  • Beginning: Information Search — How big is this problem? Do I really need to buy something?
  • Middle: Evaluation of Alternatives — Yes, I need to buy something, but what? What’s the right service/product for my needs?
  • End: Ready to buy — A purchase will be made, but need to determine the best deal for my needs.

A keyword strategy focused on at least one of these buyer stages is vital to being found on Google during the ‘Moment of Search.’  After all, your keyword strategy determines who and when will see your website in the Google listings.

What’s the best stage for your business to attract buyers?

Attract them too early, at the start of their buying process, and they may forget about you by the time they’re ready to make a purchase. Attract them too late, when they are anxious to make their purchase, and they may not engage with your website.

It’s important to build your keyword and Google AdWords campaigns around buying stages so you attract buyers at the right time for both of you.

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Information-seeking buyers are usually at the beginning of their buying process. They are trying to learn more about their specific problem, what products or services are available, and determine whether or not they need to make a purchase. Their Google searches will use more general keywords.

In this first Buying Stage, keywords focus on the problem’s symptoms, rather than the products or services specifically.

For example, the buyer may Google “how to fix a leaky pipe” instead of looking for a plumber, or “what kind of flooring is best for basements” instead of looking for ceramic tile or vinyl flooring.

A good blog can help you educate these buyers and build your reputation as a credible supplier, which can help convert their visit into a sale. However, because these are early-stage buyers, your business needs mechanisms to coax them to return to your website as they move closer to making a purchase. For example:

  • Content marketing: This includes regular blogging, active social media
  • Email marketing list: A great way to distribute your content
  • Remarketing: Keeps you in front of the buyer while they’re on other websites and social media

It would be a shame to have invested in buyer education, only for someone else to scoop up the sale because you didn’t have the content or commitment to follow the buyer to the end of the buying cycle.

If your business has the content marketing volume and systems in place to distribute that content throughout the buying cycle, you will benefit from keywords that focus on educating buyers. Otherwise, it may be wise to use a keyword strategy that attracts buyers further down the sales funnel.

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Buyers who are evaluating alternatives have made a decision to purchase a service/product to fix their problem. They are examining what is available from you and your competitors. They are doing a feature benefit comparison.

This is one of the most ideal times to be attracting attention to your website, because:

  • You can still influence the buyer with education
  • Purchase decision is likely coming
  • You will not need a content intensive marketing strategy because the decision is imminent

These buyers will use more specific keywords in their Google searches than buyers seeking information. At this stage in the Buying Cycle, buyers are using keywords that are more descriptive of the product/service they need, and what specific benefits or features they would like.

It’s great when your website shows up in these searches because the buyer is more likely to make a purchase than an ‘information seeking’ buyer because they’ve already done their research.

On the other hand, since these buyers have done their research by visiting many other websites, they probably have higher expectations, including that your website match or better the experience of competitive websites. If they like what they see on your site, you can expect a store visit, phone call or email.

Feature/benefit keywords will be attractive to these buyers, so focusing on those will help pull your website up the search rankings.

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This buyer is in the final Buying Stage and is ready to make a purchase. If they’ve been contemplating this purchase for a while, or it’s been difficult to filter through information and come to a decision, they will likely be impatient to close the deal.

At this stage, the buyer’s Google searches will reflect a high level of knowledge and a desire to find the best possible supplier.

These buyers are looking for the best deal — price, features, delivery and service reputation.

For your website to show up at this very late buying stage, your keyword strategy needs to emphasise the reasons to buy from you and not from someone else. Focus what makes you better and different: Discounts, sales, free delivery, service, etc. Those are the things these buyers are looking for.

Google AdWords is one of the best vehicles to advertise and promote your business’s features and benefits at the top of the search page. Your ad and website need to be compelling enough to get you a chance to interact with this impatient buyer.

A Fine Balance: Google’s Remarketing Rules

A Fine Balance: Google’s Remarketing Rules

Remarketing can be a powerful incentive to get web users to return to your website or Facebook page after they have visited. Often times, a return visit results in a sale or contact. It’s pretty exciting tool.

But at the risk of being a ‘killjoy’, Google has certain governing rules that need to be followed, or your ads may not show at all. Being aware of these rules before you embark on your remarketing campaign can save you time and money.

Remarketing Governing Rules for All Businesses

There are two main rules governing AdWords: Audience Size and Protecting Privacy:

Audience Size

When you create an audience in Google Analytics, <link to Audience Creation> it must have a minimum of 100 active users in the last 30 days. When you create your audience, Analytics will tell you your audience size.

If you are making a Remarketing List Search Ad (RLSA) campaign, you must have a minimum of 1,000 active users in the last 30 days.

Learn more about audience lists, size, membership, etc.

Your Policy on Audience Privacy

Remarketing ‘follows’ people around the web, and that raises obvious privacy issues that Google takes seriously. If you don’t have a privacy policy, it’s a good idea to create one. Web users are more apt to trust sites that are clear about their data use.

In terms of setting your remarketing privacy policy, yours should basically inform people you are using cookies for Google’s (and other platforms) marketing. Some of the details about this can be found on the ‘Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features’ page.

Check Before You Build

If you want to avoid having Google stop showing your ads and start sending you warning letters, review the governing rules before you begin your remarketing campaign.

A Case Study in Google’s Remarketing Rules—Personally Identifiable Information

Here’s a policy I wish I had understood before I created the campaign for a client:

MyLiberty.life is an ecommerce business selling incontinence products (diapers, pads, etc.) across Canada. We set up a remarketing audience to get people back on the website after their initial visit, just like I had done for other clients.

However, when MyLiberty’s ads were not being seen by anyone (we had zero impressions), I knew Google was not showing the ads at all and investigated why.

Personally Identifiable Information is a No–No!

It turns out, Google placed MyLiberty Life’s products in the health category, and clicks on remarketing ads may reveal personally identifiable information, or PII (incontinence, special needs children, etc.) about the person clicking. Essentially, ‘when using certain personalized advertising features, additional requirements apply.’

There are several product categories that Google considers revealing PII, including alcohol, gambling, restricted drugs, health, and more. While remarketing is a no-no with these products, you can still actively advertise them on Google.

Look before you create

If you think your product falls into Google’s PII category, check before your start creating remarketing campaigns.