We're hiring

Call 03332 207 677


Essential Paid Search Reporting

Paid Search 25th Jun 2014

Hi, I’m Sam and today I want to talk to you a little bit about paid search
reporting and the platforms that you can use in order to make your PPC
reporting better. So to start with I’m going to go a bit back to basics
because of the amount of AdWords campaigns that I see and that aren’t
actually set up for reporting properly is crazy. So I thought we’d go
through some of the basics first before we look at the kind of useful
reports that I use on a day-to-day basis.

So the first thing is making sure that your AdWords account is tagged and
linked correctly, and these are the four things that we need to look at. So
Google Analytics is the first thing. If you haven’t got your Analytics
account linked to your AdWords account, you’re missing out on so much
valuable data. So make sure that that one is linked as a kind of priority.

Next up is Webmaster Tools. Now this is a relatively new feature that
allows you to incorporate some of the organic data that you get with the
paid data. I have got a bit more on that report a little bit later on, but
make sure that you’re linking the two together. One tip here is that I
would always link the www version and the non www version of your website
so that you can get the maximum amount of data as you can within your
AdWords account.

Next up is auto-tagging. Now this is something that should automatically be
switched on by default, but I do see some accounts that don’t have this
switched on. This is a setting within your AdWords account that basically
tells AdWords to tag each of your destination URLs automatically so that
the data can be pulled into your Analytics account properly. If you don’t
have this done, you kind of still get data within Analytics, but you don’t
get the amount of data that you kind of really need. So make sure that that
one’s gone and switched on.

And then finally, if you’re running any other paid search campaigns,
whether it’s in Bing or Facebook for example, you can use the Campaign URL
Builder so that you can tag each of those campaigns with specific metrics
so that you can actually see that data within Google Analytics. Otherwise,
if you don’t do this, a lot of the time it gets lumped under the core
referrer, so whether it’s Bing, Facebook, whatever. So using this will
actually allow you to tag them up properly and see the data.

Next up is conversion tracking. Now there’s four types of conversion
tracking that AdWords allow for you. The first being the standard web
tracking, which the majority of the time you’ll kind of want to have some
form of web tracking in place. Simply need a piece of code on the thank you
page of your website that renders every time somebody either clicks on one
of your PPC ads and then completes the desired goal or action, and then
that pings as a conversion within your AdWords account.

Next up is call tracking. So this can be useful if you’re running like a
call centre or something where you get most of your conversions actually
happen when people pick up the phone. Having the call tracking in place,
every time somebody clicks on the ad and then calls the number that’s on
your website, it will ping and tell AdWords that you actually had a
conversion so that you can actually see how many calls are being generated
off the back of your AdWords account.

Next up is the app tracking. So if you’ve got a mobile or a tablet app that
you’re wanting to push via your AdWords campaign, you can use this form of
tracking so that you can see how many downloads of that particular app you
get. One cool thing is if you’ve got an app in the Google Play Store, it’s
really, really easy to set up. You’ve just got to take the URL for the app,
ping that into your conversion tracking, and it will automatically start
tracking it for you. If you’ve got an app registered somewhere else,
whether it’s like an iPhone app or whatever, it does take a little bit more
work to set it up, but the functionality is there if you need it.

And then finally is offline tracking. Now this is again something that’s
quite new from AdWords, but it’s a brilliant piece of kit if you’ve kind of
got a need for that. So if you’ve got people that come onto your website
and then convert offline, so whether it’s via a phone call or whether they
come into a physical shop location, or whatever it is they do, you can pull
that data and import that back into your AdWords account so that you can
see the customer journey from start to finish, from when they’ve clicked on
an ad to when they’ve actually converted. So really useful, piece of
conversion tracking there.

The conversion window is something that AdWords set up — I’m not sure how
many months ago now — but it’s relatively new. Previously, when somebody
converted on your AdWords campaign, if they hadn’t visited the site within
30 days after the first time they clicked before they converted, it would
be registered as a new conversion. So let’s say, for example, you visit an
ad on the second of the month and then you come back on the 15th of the
following month. The ad that triggered that conversion would not be shown
as the first one because of the 30 day conversion window that was there

Now what AdWords allow you to do now is actually increase that to 90 days.
So you’ve got a 90 day conversion window. So whenever you’re setting up a
new campaign, I’d always recommend that you set it up with a 90 conversion
window. After 90 days, I’d go into the Time Lag Report, which is in Search
Funnels Reporting, so that you can actually see how long it’s taking people
from the minute they click on your ad to the minute they convert. However
long it is, you can then go in and change your conversion window to match
what your typical customer journey looks like and how long they typically
take to convert.

And then finally I want to look at some useful reports. There is a whole
world of reports out there on AdWords and Analytics that you really need to
get to kind of grips with, but here’s some of my favourites. So we’ve got
the Paid and Organic Report, which comes off the back of linking your
Webmaster Tools account. So if you don’t see this report, make sure this is
linked and then it will start to appear. You do need some time to kind of
accrue the data in there, so the sooner you can get that linked, the

What this basically allows you to do is see how your PPC ads are being
shown in the search listings and whether you’ve got organic listings in
that same page. So it’s really useful for two things really.

You can either use it for discovering new keywords. So it might be
that you’ve got a listing on page one for a particular term
and you’re only appearing organically in say position eight for that term.
You might look at that and think, okay, well, let’s give it a go. Let’s try
and put that particular keyword in your AdWords campaign. Let’s bid it up
and let’s see what it does in a higher position. It might be that it works
really well, and you can get some extra business from it. If not, then you
can switch it back off and just rely on your organic listings that’s
already currently set there.

You can also use it for testing. So if you’re currently in position one for
a keyword organically and you’re in position one in terms of the paid
listing as well, you could try and bid down on the paid listing to see
whether you would then capture the traffic that you were previously getting
from your PPC listing and see whether it goes into organic. So really
useful set of reporting there.

Next up are the days of the week and the hour of the day reports. Now, I use
both of these. I use the day of the week report within Google Analytics,
because the interface allows you to kind of look at the data a lot better,
and I use hour of the day within AdWords

So you want to use the day of the week to see which campaigns are
performing on which days of the week. Quite obvious really. You could have
a day of the week, let’s say your Saturday was performing really, really
well and you’re getting lots of conversions at a low CPA versus a Wednesday
isn’t performing well for you at all. It’s costing you a lot of money and
it’s not converting. You may then take the decision to either pause that
AdWords campaign on a Wednesday or reduce the budget on a Wednesday and
then push the rest of that budget into the Saturday that you know is
converting well for you.

You can then switch over to the hour of the day report within AdWords and
look at that particular campaign on that particular day of the week, and
see whether there is any particular time periods that are either converting
well for you or not converting. Then you can use the bid adjustments to
either bid higher or bid lower, pause it, whatever you want to do in the
times that aren’t converting well for you so that you’re spending the
money, the core bit of your budget on the areas and the times that are
actually converting for you.

Next up is the location report. So if you’re targeting the entire UK for
example or the US, whatever country it is you’re targeting, you can look at
the location report to see which parts of that country are performing well
for you and which parts aren’t. You can then either exclude the ones that
aren’t necessarily working for you so that you’re really using your budget
on the locations in that country that are working well for you.

Next up is device. So we’ve obviously got desktop, we’ve got mobile, we’ve
got tablet, and Google will automatically try and show your ads on all
three of those platforms. But it might be that your website doesn’t
necessarily convert very well like people are coming in from a mobile. So
you can use this report to see how your conversions are taking place and
whether you want to actually stop bidding on mobile traffic altogether and
just purely focus on desktop and tablet. So this is a report that I
definitely recommend that you look at, particularly if you haven’t got a
mobile version or a mobile friendly website. There’s not a huge amount of
point in kind of bidding so that your ads are being shown on mobile because
you’re going to be wasting a lot of money on that.

The next one is the search network. Now again, Google will automatically
set up your ads to show on the Google search engine plus its search
partners, so people like Ask and so on. Now, you can use the search
networks report so that you can see how your AdWords account is actually
performing on Google versus the search partners. It might be they’re
working both really, really well. It might be that the search partners is
not working well for you and you’re wasting so much budget on that. By
simply switching it off if it’s not converting, you can save lots and lots
of money and actually spend that within the areas that are converting for

The second to last one I want to talk about is the Top Paths Report, which
is in the Search Funnels Reporting. Now, you might be looking at a keyword
and thinking I’ve been bidding on this for a few months now. I have spent X
amount. It’s just not converting for me. You could be completely wrong
there, and you could be switching off a keyword that’s actually an
introducer or kind of an assisting keyword to that kind of conversion path.
If you use the Top Paths Report, you can actually see how many times that
particular keyword is assisting a conversion.

So it might not be that it was the kind of first click that somebody came
in at. It might be the second, third, fourth, fifth click, whatever. But if
you switch that off and then you realise that that particular keyword is
assisting a lot of conversions, you could see your overall conversions for
that account start to kind of drop down. So before you make that decision
over pausing a keyword that isn’t converting for you, make sure you’re
using that Top Paths Report to see whether it’s assisting any conversions
for you.

And then finally, custom reports within Google Analytics. If you are not
using these, please, please, please go ahead and kind of have a play around
and use them. The Google Analytics reporting functionality is absolutely
awesome. But if you’re not using custom reports, you’re only seeing a kind
of minute bit of data. So custom reports you can set up to, say, measure
different metrics for different sessions. So if you’re looking at a
standard report and thinking that’s not quite showing me what I want to
see, switch over to a custom report, and nine times out of ten you will be
able to create a report that’s customised specifically for the reporting
that you need.

So I did actually present something similar on this topic at SES London
earlier this year. So I’ve got the slides. I’ve got a write-up of this post
as well. So if you want to go to http://kooz.ai/seslondon, you’ll be able
to get a copy of the slides I presented at SES along with the blog post.
Any questions, please do get in touch. Thank you very much for listening.

Samantha Noble
About the author

Samantha Noble

Sam is a talented multi-tasker, a dedicated mother to the gorgeous Theo and a big fan of cooking – word on the street is that she’s pretty good in the kitchen but we’re yet to know if this is true or not. Hint hint, we like cake, Sam.

AdWords Whitepaper Cover

Free Whitepaper AdWords PPC Beginner’s Guide

What do you think?

Digital Ideas Monthly

Sign up now and get our free monthly email. It’s filled with our favourite pieces of the news from the industry, SEO, PPC, Social Media and more. And, don’t forget - it’s free, so why haven’t you signed up already?