The Google Ads & Analytics Guide You’ve Always Needed

There are endless guides for creating and optimizing Google Ads campaigns. There are also copious articles for implementing and navigating Google Analytics. Yet guides for adjusting Google Analytics in order to optimize Google Ads campaigns are in short supply—so we made one! Read our comprehensive guide on Ads and Analytics today.

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What is it for?

No matter how complex or structurally sound your Ads campaigns may be, if you aren’t using the wealth of information offered to you with Google Analytics, then you are leaving diamonds in the rough. A great SEM Manager needs to do more than read that information—they need to be able customize it to find the trends and hidden nuggets that can spell big payoffs for your campaigns.

The google ads and analytics guide you've always needed

Sneak Preview: The Google Ads & Analytics Guide You’ve Always Needed


Whether it is the first day of your paid search campaign or you are a proficient SEM Manager, having an understanding beyond just the advertising platform is what makes someone a fully formed marketing professional. One tool that should be in every marketer’s toolkit is a strong foundation for Google Analytics.

When training new SEM Managers, we have found there to be a dearth of information regarding how to use Analytics data for more than just tracking, but using it to improve your Ads campaigns. This guide aims to rectify that scarcity. Regardless if you are advertising on Google, YouTube, or Microsoft, having a solid understanding of how to properly segment and analyze your advertising data will help you make better optimizations to your campaigns and, ultimately, make your clients more successful!

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In case you haven’t already, connecting Google Ads and Analytics accounts should be the first move with any and all Ads campaigns. Many of the key features and metrics you’ll learn in this guide can be tracked and measured in Google Ads—but in Analytics, additional context can be gleaned from onsite behavior. Let’s get started!


Key Takeaways:

  • Make sure that you are looking at conversions in Analytics, not just Ads.
  • Making your conversions in Analytics makes them easier to import into the Ads account. Remember, not every goal you create in Analytics needs to be imported into Ads. Importing too many conversions without conversion action sets in the campaigns can mean that any automated bidding strategy isn’t optimizing for the most critical conversions.


Conversions and Goals IconNow that you understand how traffic is arriving at the site, it’s time to start examining what that traffic is doing in the Conversions and Goals sections of Analytics. Tracking conversions is arguably the most important aspect of any online advertising (especially in your client’s mind). This is what sets digital marketing apart from traditional—irrefutable data that can be tied directly to a particular campaign or strategy.

Analytics goals mean different things for different advertisers. Generally, you want to track each step in the purchase/lead capture funnel. But not all conversions are created equal—you would certainly value an Add to Cart conversion less than a finalized purchase.

If you’re selling products online, be sure to enable the Ecommerce features within Analytics. These can allow you to track the exact dollar value from each transaction. This can be compared to total campaign spend to determine ROI. However, within Google Ads, you can create different conversion action sets to assign your most valuable conversions. This allows you to separate purchase conversions from pageview or event conversions, preventing your conversion data from becoming skewed.


An often overlooked conversion metric in Analytics is Assisted Conversions. When comparison shopping, users will often find their way to a site via one source, then drop off and come back later through a different source and convert. For example, a user might find the product or service they’re looking for via a paid search ad. They’ll browse on the site and compare pricing. Remembering the site name, they’ll go directly back to the site later and convert.

In this case, the paid search ad would receive an assisted conversion. Assisted conversions can be assigned a dollar value for ecommerce campaigns, giving you a more complete picture of the attribution of ROI to different channels. For example, if your paid search campaign has a small portion of overall conversion value, you could look at assisted conversions to see if this traffic has led to more conversions via other sources.

Screenshot of Assisted Conversions Setup in Google Analytics

Assisted conversions can show how your Ads campaigns have contributed to a user’s overall conversion journey.


Key Takeaways:

  • Proper segmentation knowledge in Analytics is one of the most underrepresented skills found in Ads Managers.
  • Don’t just rely on Added Segments to properly report specific data. Create your own to always be sure.

Outside of the Google Ads tab in the Acquisition section, it is important that you are able to properly segment Ads data in Analytics. What does this mean?

When you are looking at any part of Analytics, you can segment the kind of traffic that you want to examine in that subset. When managing Google Ads, or any kind of digital marketing method, you need to be able to separate your work from other campaigns in order to examine it effectively.

If you are a Google Ads Manager, you might think the pre-made segment “Paid Traffic” will cover everything that you are doing—and it might. Be wary, though. That segment will include any kind of paid advertising that you are doing, whether it be Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Apple Store Ads, the list goes on.

So how do you properly segment your Google Ads campaigns? Make your own custom Source/Medium segment!

Audience Source and Audience Definition in Google Analytics


First, select the +New Segment button, the Traffic Sources menu option, and then input Google into Source and Medium is CPC. Whenever you are doing custom segments, the traffic summary to the left will give you a percentage of the overall traffic that you are segmenting. This will help you understand if you are correctly identifying your segment.

Traffic Sources Menu on Google Analytics

Want to see a specific SEM campaign traffic segment? Under the Advanced menu, select the Conditions option from the dropdown menu, select Campaign, and then fill in the rest of your parameters.

Remember, segments can be anything you want to see: people that spent a certain amount of time on your site, those that visited certain pages, those that arrive to your site using a certain kind of browser, and so on. Segments allow you to see your website visitors in different parts of Analytics, so you can compare segments and make better decisions regarding your campaigns.


Key Takeaways:

  • You can create more robust and specific audiences in Analytics, which can then be imported into Google Ads easily.
  • If you are having issues with remarketing code for dynamic remarketing in Google Ads, you can still use dynamic attributes to remarket in Google Analytics.


Let’s head back to the Admin interface in Analytics. Under the Property settings for your Analytics accounts, you’ll find Audience Definitions. Within this section are Audiences and Custom Definitions. If you are doing any sort of advertising without creating audiences to remarket to, then you are only reaching people at the bottom of the funnel. While that is important, it is also a competitive and expensive strategy.

But you can create audiences in the Audience Manager of Google Ads, right? Yes, but there are limits to the type of audiences you can make. If you are having issues with your Google Remarketing code or want to create an audience that is not available in the Audience Manager of Google Ads, then Audience Definitions is a great option for you.

In Google Analytics, select the Audience Definitions in order to begin defining the audience of your choice. This is why it is important to create your segments first, because you can just select them when you are creating Audiences in Google Analytics and then import your Audiences in Google Ads to start targeting!

Audience Source and Audience Definition in Google Analytics


Dynamic Attributes is a section that is dependent on the type of business that you’re working with and the kind of dynamic remarketing options that are available to you. For most Google Ads Managers, you’re likely using the Retail function for ecommerce dynamic remarketing. Once you coordinate the View and Google Ads account that the information should be going to, you can select the correct attributes. For most retail accounts, the product ID will be ecomm_prodid or Product SKU, and for optional attributes, Page Type will be ecomm_pagevalue and Total Value will be ecom_totalvalue.

Implementing dynamic remarketing audiences in Analytics does require more set-up than just placing code. If you go into this section of Analytics and realize that you don’t have these features, follow the Prerequisite Steps in order to get them set up so you can finish making your dynamic attributes.

Dynamic Attribute Linking on Google Analytics


Key Takeaways:

  • Cross-Device Audience Reports will help you select the best attribution model for your client.
  • Looking at Cross-Device Audience Reports will help your Ads campaigns receive all the proper credit as a touchpoint in the customer journey.


The Cross-Device Channels section is currently a Beta option in Google Analytics, so check to see if it is available in your Analytics account first. To begin, you have to enable the option, then sufficient traffic has to flow through your Analytics so that the audience can build.

This facet of Google Analytics will illustrate cross- device information about site traffic, allowing you to make more informed device decisions in Google Ads for features such as device bid adjustments and extensions. For this section of Analytics, don’t just look at the Google Ads segment you’ve created—look at the behavior of other traffic sources and see what is working best.

For example, a lot of a site’s audience may enter your site through a mobile device but complete your conversion on a desktop device. This is typical if you have a longer conversion cycle or higher price point products. You can see the device overlap rates and what is your acquisition device, and examine this information by channel.

Cross Device Channels Icon

We recommend looking at the Acquisition Device Report for other channels than Paid Search in order to see how people outside advertising methods are accessing the site. This could be indicative of a larger trend that you could be implementing into your campaigns.

User Device Graph on Google Analytics