Graeme Benge

How To Track PPC Engagement By Making Analytics Work With AdWords

19th Mar 2013 PPC Blog, Google AdWords, PPC Blog 5 minutes to read

British pound and american dollar symbol on keyboardOur week long focus on PPC continues today as Graeme looks at how to make Google Analytics and Google AdWords work together for essential engagement tracking and report analysis. Plus, keep reading till the end for a little Analytics freebie.

It’s 2013 and it’s time to get serious about advertising online, especially with more and more competition across so many niches, it means you need to know your stuff. In some respects though, we have access to some pretty effective tools, two of which are Google AdWords and Google Analytics. So this post is going to look at using Analytics metrics to enhance your AdWords campaigns. I’ve even included a Custom Report you can download to your Google Analytics account to better make sense of your AdWords performance and inform your ongoing strategy.

Linking Analytics Data To The AdWords Interface

First things first, we need to hook the two up, so light a candle, pour a glass of vino and go through these two posts, one from Anna and one from Google themselves:

Uncover Your Fans In Analytics

Companies can tend to take distinct approaches to SEO and PPC; using SEO for the long game and PPC as a blunt tool to buy traffic that might pay off. In these testing times the two need to dovetail and when used correctly Analytics can be used to make informed decisions for the strategy of your AdWords account.

So the first set of actions is to establish a baseline for how your site is consumed by your user base.

Create the following two goals in Analytics:

The Engaged Visitor:

Engaged Visitor
This goal will be triggered every time a user stays on site longer than the 12 month average of 4 minutes but you can tailor your time frame as you see fit. A year may not be appropriate if your site has a much more volatile user base.

Whichever time frame you choose this goal will start to filter out the more promiscuous visitor and offer up insight into your fans, or most engaged visitors.

Secondly, create this goal:

The Reader:

The Reader


This goal will be triggered when a user has visited more than 4 pages, again a stat based on a 12 month average. This should then follow up the first goal to pick up on a slightly different user type that may not stay on your site as long but does still show signs of being actively engaged with the content your site provides.

Hat tip to Problogger for their post that made me think these goals could be useful not just for bloggers but for AdWords optimisation too.

Once set up and data has started to be collected, apply the Paid Search Traffic Segment in Google Analytics (by choosing from the Advanced Segments on the grey bar at the top of your Analytics interface) to drill down to instances of these goals being triggered by traffic from your PPC campaign. Cross reference it against All visits and also Non Paid Search Traffic to understand how the different audiences interact. You may find Paid traffic are more predisposed to transact and that Non Paid traffic is still in the research or discovery mode.

At this point you should have an idea of some of the key characteristics of these most valuable of visitors to your site. Now it’s time to see how we can leverage this to make our AdWords campaigns drive more of this qualified traffic to your site.

So into AdWords we go….

Next, customise AdWords columns within the console to incorporate Analytics metrics. You can do this on the AdGroups, Ads and Keyword tabs. If you don’t mind a crowded interface, I’d drop them all in but it is optional so do what best fits.

You might get a tool bar similar to the below:

Column Headings

Bounce Rate

In this example I’ve placed Bounce rate right next to Click through rate as I’ve a feeling about why my high performing ad is not converting very well. If you’re seeing a high CTR and high Bounce Rate it’s probably a good time to time to analyse the page you’re driving traffic to. It could appear your ad is compelling enough to entice the click however once on site there is little to retain that visitor.

Or it may be that you feel the landing page is spot on and that your ad text may need amending to better reflect the landing page content. Exceptions to this rule will be where your landing page is set up to collect data directly and no further need to explore the site is required. For sites that transact, there are likely to be several pages as part of the shopping cart journey as well as the original landing page, therefore a high bounce rate suggests a review of the landing page is in order.

Conversely you could find that Click through Rate is high but bounce rate is high also. Bearing in mind what we’ve said about transactions or signs up having multiple stages, this indicates the ad text or offer is not signposting the content the user is about to be presented with. Therefore landing page needs to reinforce the key signals seen in your advert in order to turn that around.

For an excellent post on landing page optimisation tips, this one from the Unbounce blog is tough to beat.


There’s any number of ways of pulling apart the data you now have at your finger tips. To start with I might apply a filter in AdWords that sorts Average Visit Duration by Conversion Rate I should be able to see the Ad groups that are engaging but may need an increase in bid in order to direct more traffic and increase total conversions.

Conversions by AdGroup


Whilst writing this it occurred to me it would be great to have a handy way of viewing the relevant user behaviour and AdWords data into one handy report. With that in mind I put this PPC Engagement Metrics Custom Report together so that when downloaded, you can and start to interrogate your data in a much easier manner.


The data we have at our disposal (for free) is pretty vast. Whilst some may question the reliability however for free resources, the insight and options they present online marketers  means they can really help you come up with an effective marketing strategy.

Let me know how you put Analytics to work in AdWords. Are there any other ways of leveraging the information for better decision making? Are there other Custom Reports that can give actionable insights to improve AdWords performance? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit:
Big Stock Pound and Dollar by BigStock

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Graeme Benge

Graeme is a self-confessed chocolate addict and his carefully curated physique reflects this. His beard is better than yours and if you ever want to see such a majestic creature you can find him in the ‘room of doom’ listening to rock and heavy metal.


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