Google Analytics & AdWords

The most common questions about integrating AdWords and Google Analytics are finally answered:

Why don’t Google Analytics AdWords clicks and analytics sessions match?

First of all, clicks and sessions are different metrics that typically do not match up.

There may be several scenarios that lead to discrepancy between sessions and clicks.

Google Analytics displays fewer sessions than clicks.

Here are some scenarios in which this may happen:

A user clicks on an ad, but the page does not load.

A user clicks on an ad, and the page starts to load, but the internet connection on the user’s side is disrupted.

A user clicks on an ad, and the page starts to load, but does not fully load. If the GA tracking code was embedded at the bottom of the page, it may not load.

A user clicks on an ad, but a JavaScript error prevents the GA tracking code from sending the hit to Google Analytics.

A user clicks on an ad, but there is no GA tracking code on the landing page.

A user clicks on an ad, but software to block tracking installed on the user’s device blocks the GA hit (e.g., AdBlock, AdGuard, etc.—here is a list of them.

Google Analytics displays more sessions than clicks.

Google Analytics uses the last non-direct attribution model by default. If a user clicks on an ad and gets to the landing page, the session is initiatied. If this session is disrupted for any reason and the user accesses the same site again directly, new sessions will be attributed to original traffic source (e.g., same AdWords campaign).

Here are some scenarios in which this happens:

A user clicks on an ad, and the first session begins. A user is inactive for more than 30 minutes (e.g., the user stepped away from his/her computer to have lunch). Then the user becomes active again (i.e., comes back to the computer). A new session begins. The second session is a direct access, but because of the last non-direct attribution model, it is attributed to the same AdWords campaign as the previous session. Google Analytics will count this user as having one click and two sessions.

This is especially common for mobile users. Session breaks due to inactivity may be caused by a variety of things: a phone call, a push notification from another application, a real-world distraction that causes the user to put his/her phone down for a bit.

A user clicks on an ad, and the first session begins. A user bookmarks the link, saves it to a text file or emails it to him/herself or someone else. Later on, the user reopens the saved link. This session will be attributed to the same AdWords campaign as the first one.

A user clicks on an ad, and the first session begins. A user starts to watch a video that is longer than 30 minutes on a website. After the user finishes watching the video, he/she continues to navigate the site. While the user was watching the video, the session dropped, and the second session began when he/she started navigating site again. Both sessions will be attributed to the same AdWords campaign.

To avoid a session break in the last scenario, you can either track the percentage of the video watched by the user using events or adjust the duration of a session in Google Analytics. By default, it is set to 30 minutes, but it can be adjusted by going to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Session Setting and set to a minimum of 1 minute and a maximum of 4 hours.

 

Why are Analytics campaigns coming from inactive AdWords campaigns?

Google Analytics uses the last non-direct click attribution model; therefore, sometimes sessions from inactive AdWords campaign may be reported in Google Analytics.

The scenario goes as follows:

  • A user clicks on an ad from an active AdWords campaign and gets to the site.
  • The next day, the advertiser stops the AdWords campaign.
  • Several days later, the user comes back to the site, this time directly.

Because of the last non-direct click attribution model, the second session will be reported in GA as coming from the same AdWords campaign from which the user got to the site originally, even though the campaign was not active on that day.

If the conversion path is long or there are a lot of returning users, there is a higher probability that users will be attributed to inactive AdWords campaigns.

 

Why are keywords not provided in Google Analytics?

After you have linked your Google Analytics property and Search Console, you will probably find that most search queries used to access your site are shown in the report as “(Other).” They are not shown due to Google Analytics’ privacy settings and high-cardinality dimension processing. Google explains this as follows: “To protect user privacy, Search Analytics doesn’t show all data. For example, we might not track some queries that are made a very small number of times or those that contain personal or sensitive information.

Making search more secure and changes in search query data collecting was announced in 2011 (https://analytics.googleblog.com/2011/10/making-search-more-secure-accessing.html), and since then, much less data on search queries is shown in Search Console and Google Analytics—in Search Console all hidden queries are simply not displayed, while in Google Analytics, you will see “(Other)” for hidden queries.

More information on how queries are sent from Google Search results can also be found here.

How do I track AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics?

The easiest way to track AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics is to link your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts and enable auto-tagging.

This link explains how to link Google Analytics and AdWords accounts.

This link explains how to add auto-tagging.

Auto-tagging will add the URL variable gclid to the final URL for all ads in your AdWords account, and if your accounts are linked to Google Analytics, it will attribute each of these clicks to the appropriate ad, ad group and campaign, as well as import impressions, clicks and costs data from AdWords to Google Analytics.

This way, you will be able to see all your AdWords data in your Google Analytics reports:

Some standard reports for AdWords campaigns are available in Google Analytics by going to: Acquisition > Adwords

If auto-tagging is not an option for you or you cannot link your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts for some reason, you can use utm-marks for each of your final urls, just as you do with other marketing platforms. In this case, the attribution will work based on utm-marks, but impressions, clicks and cost data will not be imported into your reports.

The topic of utm-marks and how to use them properly is explained in “How do I use the Google Analytics URL builder?”

 

We hope you find this article useful, and that it will help you get better results on AdWords. We would also like to welcome you to try Oribi for free and discover a new way to get killer marketing results.

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