February 15, 2019

Link Google Ads to Google Analytics: How and Why to Do It

As robust as a platform as Google Ads is, it doesn’t track everything, or give you the whole picture of your online marketing efforts. Google Analytics on the other hand, does.

Why Connect Google Ads to Google Analytics

With Google Analytics you can see how visitors are getting to your website and what they’re doing when they get there. Some of the things you’ll be able to identify are: the website pages that are the most popular, if they’re coming to your website via their computer or phone and where in the world they’re located.

While Google Ads will give you all the insight you need on how your ads are performing, Google Analytics will give you a more holistic view of your entire online marketing. Not only is this better for your marketing health, but it will also allow you to retarget site visitors with your paid Google Ads. That’s why it’s crucial that you integrate both platforms and use them both to track your marketing efforts.

It should now be clear that you should integrate Google Ads and Google Analytics, here’s how to do it.

How to Link Google Ads to Google Analytics

Before linking accounts you’ll want to make sure you have Admin access in Google Ads and Edit permissions in Google Analytics.

Verify Google Ads Access

  1. Login to your Google Ads Account
  2. Click on Tools
  3. Select Account Access
  4. Verify that your access level is Admin for your email address
google ads account access levels

Verify Google Analytics Access

  1. Login to your Google Analytics Account
  2. Click on Admin in the lower left hand corner
  3. Select your Account and your Property
  4. Select User Management
  5. Verify that your access level is Edit for your email address
google analytics user management

Finally, link Google Ads to Google Analytics

  1. Sign into your Google Analytics account
  2. Go to Admin in the lower left hand corner
  3. Find and Select the Analytics Account and Property you want to link Google Ads to
  4. Under property, choose Google Ads Linking
google ads linking in google analytics

5. Click New Link Group in the upper left hand corner of your screen

google ads linking add new link group

6. Select the Google Ads account you want to link and click Continue

selected linked google ads account

7. Create and enter a Link Group Title

8. Toggle on all websites that you want Google Ads data for

9. Select Link Accounts to complete the setup!

google ads link configuration in google analytics

Tag Your Google Ads Final URLs

For Google Analytics to share details about keywords and their costs from your linked Google Ad account, you must do some sort of tagging.

The easiest way to do this is with auto-tagging. Not only is this the recommended approach, but it will give you the most accurate data straight from Google Ads.

Enable Auto-Tagging

  1. Sign into your Google Ads Account
  2. Click Settings in the left hand menu
  3. Click the Account Settings tab
  4. Choose Auto-tagging
  5. Check the “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad” box.
  6. Click Save and you’re done!
auto tag urls in google ads

Manual Tagging

You also have the option to manually tag your Google Ads links in the advanced settings section of Google Analytics. Auto-tagging is the preferred method and the manual option should only be used if your website doesn’t allow arbitrary URL parameters. If you decide to use manual tagging, be sure to tag your final URLs with parameters (as opposed to anything that redirects). You’ll also want to disable the auto-tagging to ensure there are no data discrepancies. Google has a great introduction to Manually Tagging here.

Awesome Things You Can Do Now That You’re Integrated

Of course now that the platforms are integrated, the overall visibility you have into your marketing efforts will serve you well, but there are a few additional things that you can do to bring your metric tracking to the next level.

High-Performing Keywords

There is a quick and easy way to determine which keywords are attracting new customers. Just use the % new sessions data point. This will show you the percentage of new visitors that are visiting your website through that specific keyword. Logically, the higher this percentage is, the more visitors that keyword has brought. You’ll want to pay specific attention to the keywords with the highest and lowest percentages so you can adjust your campaigns accordingly.

Industry Benchmarks

Google Analytics welcomes all their participants to share their analytics data anonymously to benefit other business owners with their industry benchmarking tool. With over 1600 industries contributing their data, you can get a good idea of where you business is among your competition or among similar businesses in different markets. To explore this feature you can opt-in under Admin, go to Account Settings, check the box that says Benchmarking and click Save. You will then be able to choose what sort of benchmarks you want to see and how your business stacks up.

View Benchmarking Reports by

  1. Signing in to your Google Analytics Account
  2. Go to your View
  3. Open your Reports
  4. Select Audience then Benchmarking


Probably the most popular and obvious reason to integrate your Google Ads account with your Google Analytics account is for remarketing (retargeting) campaigns. Remarketing ads allow you to target people with specific offers tailored to their behavior on your website. For example, if a visitor took a look at your selection of blue notebooks, you can set up remarketing ads to remind them of your blue notebooks and convince them to purchase.

To set up a Google Remarketing List, make sure that you already have a dynamic remarketing campaign created. You will then need to create a feed, setup your website tags and then actually create your dynamic display ads.

Google Display Network Impression Reporting

If you’re looking for even further data and analytics you can enable Google Display Network Impression Reporting to see your static display and rich media display ad impressions among other metrics.

Optimize Landing Pages

Ever wonder why people are clicking on your ad and then not converting? You’ll be able to determine this with a Google Analytics Landing Page Report. Some metrics you will want to pay attention to are high bounce rates, time on the page and of course transactions.

Now that you can see which pages are performing poorly, you can fix the issues and optimize them for success! You will want to pay attention to the pages’ page load speed and keyword relevancy to ensure the pages are the right fit for the campaigns you’ve created.

Importing Goals from Google Analytics

Since you’ve integrated both tools, you can not only see Google Analytics engagement data in your Google Ads account, but you can also import Google Analytics goals into Google Ads as your conversion tracking. Depending on the specific goals you are tracking, this can be used solo, or in addition to the other goals you’re tracking.

There are a few main time-saving benefits to using Google Analytics goals that Google Ad goals do not have.

  • Universal Pixel: Google Analytics tracks via a universal pixel, so you won’t have to make changes in Google Tag Manager everytime that you have a new conversion action.
  • Sophisticated Goals: Google Analytics gives you the opportunity to create sophisticated goals within the platform, whereas with Google Ads you would have to create custom tagging using Tag Manager.

After linked Google Ads to Google Analytics and you’ve enabled auto-tagging you can import your goals.

How to Import Goals from Google Analytics

  1. Sign into your Google Ads Account
  2. Click on Tools
  3. Choose Conversions under Measurement
  4. Click the +
  5. Choose Import
  6. Select Google Analytics and Click Continue
  7. Select the goals you want to add and click Import and Continue
  8. Click Done

Data Discrepancies

Both Google Ads and Google Analytics are reliable sources for accurate data, but they do track data points (especially conversions) differently, so it’s important to note their tracking differences.

To clarify, with the Google Ads platform, you’re only tracking paid Google Ads whereas with the Google Analytics platform, you’re tracking all of your online marketing efforts. This comes into play when looking at conversion attribution. For example, if someone was to click on an ad, not make a purchase at that time, but then visit your website directly a day later and purchase, Google Ads would say that sale was a result of the ads, but Google Analytics would attribute the sale to the direct channel.

As a rule, Google Analytics will attribute conversions to whatever marketing channel started the session that resulted in a conversion. Google Ads on the other hand will attribute it to itself if a conversion takes place during the attribution window.

The other discrepancy you might see is with timing. Google Ads attributes conversion to the time someone clicked on the ad, while Google Analytics attributes the conversion time to when someone was to actually make the purchase.

When looking at your data, keep these different tracking methods in mind to ensure that you’re reporting correctly!

There is so much that you can do with Google Ads and Google Analytics separately, and even more once you combine their powers with an integration. If you’re tired of spending the time trying to DIY your Google Ads and are seeing mediocre results, give our Google Ads experts at The Kaanen Group a call for a consultation today. We specialize in ppc management and are sure to improve your traffic and bottom line with our integrated strategies.

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