Pay-per-click advertising is a key revenue driver for many e-commerce businesses. But click costs can be expensive. Ensuring that all clicks are correctly reported in Google Analytics will help you make informed decisions. I introduced this topic last year.

In this article, I will describe a process for auditing PPC traffic reports in Google Analytics. I will offer tips on identifying issues with PPC reports, along with information on how to troubleshoot issues and correct reporting errors.

PPC in Google Analytics

To view AdWords traffic in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition> AdWords> Campaigns . If the name of a campaign is “(undefined),” AdWords tracking is not configured correctly. Google provides instructions for an appropriate link on its Google Analytics help portal.

If the name of a campaign is” (undefined) “, AdWords tracking is not configured correctly.

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The biggest problem is when a campaign reports clicks and sessions, but the numbers are far away. (Clicks and sessions should be the same or very close.) Generally, I set a trigger of a 20% difference between clicks and sessions to review, regardless of what is highest. For example, the following campaign reports about 50% fewer sessions than clicks.

This campaign reports approximately 50% fewer sessions than clicks.

To resolve the difference, the first step is to click on the campaign to see the ad groups with apparent tracking issues.

These ad groups report a difference of more than 20% between Sessions and clicks.

If necessary, continue to click on the keyword level. For ad group and keyword levels, tracking issues are likely due to errors in one or more destination URLs in ads or keywords.

Common URL errors are:

  • A keyword-level destination URL was entered a long time ago and forgotten. The URL is no longer valid.
  • An ad destination URL is out of date and needs to be changed.

The computer versions of Google AdWords Editor and Bing Ads Editor are useful resources for quickly inspecting keyword destination URLs or viewing ad destination URLs. In AdWords Editor, navigate to the “Keywords” reports to display “Final URL” to determine the keywords that the destination URLs have set and if they are correct.

Display destination URLs for keywords in AdWords Editor to identify URLs that need to be removed or changed.

This same audit process can be applied to Bing Ads, Facebook ads, and other sources of advertising and affiliate traffic. However, these audits can be difficult because the click data for other sources does not usually appear in Google Analytics. The workaround for this is to import click and cost data, which I discussed in “Using Google Analytics to Optimize Bing Ads, Other Channels.”

Why take breaks

For PPC traffic to be tracked in Google Analytics, query parameters that identify traffic as a PPC must be included in the landing pages. The common query parameters are:

  • UTM parameters. Bing Ads automatically adds UTM settings to destination URLs when auto-tagging is enabled. For other advertising and affiliate platforms, you may need to manually add the UTM settings to the destination URLs.

Destination URLs can create tracking issues in Google Analytics for the following reasons:

  • Landing page redirects remove the AdWords query parameter gclid or UTM settings. This is a common snafu tracking. Test your website to see if it removes the settings gclid or UTM. To test, type a URL in your browser bar for your site and add sample settings. If the page loads and deletes the settings, it will not be tracked in Google Analytics. Share the test with your developer, to correct.
  • 404 or other error pages that strip the parameters. If the destination URL does not exist and a 301 or other redirection has not been added to the .htaccess file (or equivalent), the new page may delete the settings.
  • Destination URLs for product pages must be updated. Make sure these URLs have been correctly defined. If a product page is not available, make sure that the redirection includes the gclid and UTM parameters.
  • Fatal errors that do not trigger the display of a page in Google Analytics. Some error pages may not trigger the Google Analytics tracking code. Make sure that all 404, 500, and other error pages contain (a) query parameters from PPC ads and (b) Google Analytics tracking code.
  • Slowly loaded destination URL. If a destination URL is slow to load, the user can click on another page of the site before the Google Analytics tags are triggered. This can lead to tracking issues. Make sure your site is optimized to load pages quickly.

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