5 Important Reasons to Link Google AdWords and Analytics

Google AdWords and Google Analytics can be two very powerful tools for your online marketing efforts. Each has a robust amount of information available and allows you to really get your hands dirty in data. On top of that, they’re also made by the same company, which means they can communicate with each other pretty darn well. In fact, we’re able to tie these two accounts together to maximize a return on our data.

First, let’s run through the pretty quick setup of linking the accounts themselves, then we’ll get into the ways you can leverage this union.

How to Link Google AdWords and Google Analytics

Linking your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts is a pretty painless process. You can initiate the linking process either from the Google Analytics or AdWords side. I personally find it easiest to do this from the Google Analytics side, but it’s important to remember that you’ll need to have Edit access for the Google Analytics account with the same email you use for Google AdWords login.

Here’s what a basic link would look like from the Google Analytics side.

Start by navigating to the Admin section of the interface, then choose AdWords Linking in the middle column:

Then click New Link Group button:

From there, since my Google Analytics login email also has full access to our Google AdWords MCC, I’m provided a dropdown list of accounts to choose to link to.

Simply choose the AdWords account you want to link this profile view to, then hit Continue.

You’ll then see the Link Configuration section. Flip the toggle to “On” for all the views you want to have data for in your AdWords account.

The last piece is important depending on what type of tagging you’re using for your AdWords account.

If you’re using auto-tagging in AdWords already, creating this link won’t change anything, so you can avoid the bottom section about tagging.

If you’re not using auto-tagging, creating this link will turn that functionality on by default. If you don’t want that, click the Advanced Settings link at the bottom and you’ll be provided the option to Enable auto-tagging or Leave your auto-tagging settings as they are.

This is up to you, but the path for the most data will be to enable auto-tagging for all reporting we’ll talk about shortly.

How to Link Multiple Accounts

In some instances, you may need to tie multiple accounts together to get the data you’re needing. In this case, it’s now possible for you to tie multiple accounts together. Whether you want to add multiple Google Analytics views to a single AdWords account or allowing multiple AdWords accounts to a single Google Analytics profile, both are now possible. Simply go through the steps for each linking separately and you’re off to the races.

Benefits of Linking AdWords and Analytics

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to link these two account types, let’s get into what we’ll be able to gain from it.

With these two platforms tied together, they’re able to communicate much more efficiently to provide better data, but they’re also able to provide some additional functionality. Let’s jump in!

1) Improved AdWords Reporting in Google Analytics

With the two platforms tied together, they’re able to communicate much more efficiently and provide more granular data in our reporting. Google Analytics has an entire section within the Acquisition reports dedicated solely to AdWords performance which you cannot get unless you’ve linked your AdWords and Analytics accounts and are utilizing auto-tagging in AdWords.

These reports share some commonality with the types of data we can find in AdWords, but here we’re able to combine the AdWords data with all the data available in Analytics to find more meaningful insights and potentially make better optimizations. Additionally, we’re able to leverage insights into a number of different key behaviors or goals that we wouldn’t be able to see easily in AdWords.

2) Include Some Analytics Data in the AdWords Interface

In the same vein as seeing AdWords data in Analytics, linking accounts also lets us see some Analytics data in AdWords.

This is beginning to sound like a Reese’s commercial….

Once you’ve linked accounts, there will be a new set of columns available in the AdWords interface. On the Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads, or Keywords tab, you can modify your columns to include the following Analytics metrics:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Pages / Session
  • Avg Session Duration (seconds)
  • % New Sessions

These can be great metrics to include for things like ad copy tests or when reviewing the performance of a certain keyword or ad group. These stats can help fill in some gaps if you’re seeing conversion rate be particularly low in some areas. How do those pages compare in terms of engagement? Are people leaving earlier on those low CVR pages or are they sticking around just as long but viewing more pages?

Obviously, this only scratches the surface of the data available directly in the Analytics interface, but as a quick check-in point, these additional columns can help provide quick insights into engagement stats within the AdWords interface and let you know if you should go down that analysis path or if another data point could be the culprit.

3) Importing Goals from Analytics to AdWords

In addition to getting engagement data from Analytics to AdWords, you can now import Analytics goals into AdWords as your conversion tracking. This can be used as a replacement for AdWords Conversion Tracking or as a compliment to it depending on the goals you’re trying to track.

With Google Analytics goals, you’ll be able to import your performance directly into the AdWords interface with an average of a 3-hour delay in stats. So real-time, same day data might not be great to optimize on, but the performance from the day prior will be just fine.

Google Analytics goals do provide some benefits that AdWords Conversion Tracking does not.

Universal Pixel

First, Analytics relies on a universal pixel in the same way that Facebook and other platforms do. This allows us to place a single pixel across all pages of the site, which you’ve already done if you have an Analytics account, then create goals based on a number of actions. No more creating new codes and pinging developers or making changes in Google Tag Manager each time you have a new conversion action.


Second, Google Analytics provides more robust options inherently with conversion tracking. Although you can utilize custom tagging through Tag Manager or your development team, Google Analytics allows you to create semi-sophisticated goals right within its interface without making any changes to the site. Obviously, this has limits, but it’s better than nothing.

When you create a new goal, you’re provided both a huge list of template goal types as you can see here:

Or you can create your own custom goal based on a number of different triggers that are important to you and the business:

Needless to say, this is a pretty robust list of options built in, making goal set up in Google Analytics arguably easier than conversion tracking in AdWords.

Apple Updates for Safari

Lastly, the Google Analytics pixel will be able to see performance through the new Apple updates for Safari for the new High Sierra OS. Essentially, Apple is making it so the AdWords conversion pixel would be able to track conversions for only 24 hours before being rendered useless. This means someone who comes to your site via an AdWords ad, leaves, comes back 2 days later and converts won’t be counted in your AdWords conversions column. Attribution models aside, this is a blow for AdWords that typically takes credit for conversions up to 30-days later.

As the Google Analytics pixel is not explicitly used as an ads pixel or for third-party tracking, this is the solution we’re left with. Google Goal Tracking will not be impacted by this change, therefore using Google Analytics Goal imports into AdWords is the official Google suggestion on how to solve this issue.

4) Audience Imports from Analytics to AdWords

When you’ve linked your Analytics and AdWords accounts, the world of remarketing audiences also grows quite a bit.

For standard remarketing audiences in AdWords, we’re given the following ways to build audiences:

  • Visitors of a page
  • Visitors of a page who did not visit another page
  • Visitors of a page who also visited another page
  • Visitors of a page during specific dates
  • Visitors of a page with a specific tag

Each of these audiences relies on the actual pages a visitor did or did not visit. And while these can be fantastic for building great audiences, they’re really only scratching the surface of possibility.

When you link to a Google Analytics account, the number of ways you can create retargeting audiences increases quite a bit.

Here are the ways you can create remarketing audiences in Google Analytics for import into AdWords:

  • All default Analytics data (like…all of it)
  • Data imported from linked AdWords accounts
  • Data imported from DoubleClick accounts
  • Data imported via Data Import

Essentially, using Google Analytics retargeting audiences allows you to marry the user data you find in Analytics with that of simple page engagement from AdWords to create more meaningful lists.

When you go to create new audiences in Analytics, located in the Admin > Audience Definition > Audiences section, you’ll be given a couple choices of how you’d like to create your audience:

From there, you can choose from a set list of audiences, you can leverage a segment, or you can create an audience profile from scratch.

Essentially, importing a Segment and building a new audience from scratch allows you to use the same audience builder to create a retargeting audience. The only difference is whether you’ve set up that audience definition before. If you want to see a specific group’s performance in Analytics as well as target them in AdWords, I suggest you set up a Segment then import it as an audience as you can’t import audiences as Segments later on.

As you can see in the audience builder, using retargeting audiences in Google Analytics allows you to leverage quite a bit of user and engagement stats like Age, Gender, Technology, Traffic Sources, etc. that simply aren’t available in AdWords. So if you’re ready to take your audience segmentation game to the next level, Google Analytics could be a great place to start.

5) Better Insights Through the MCF Reports

Lastly, we come to Multi-Channel Funnel reports. By tying AdWords to Analytics, you’re given much more granular data in this section of Google Analytics. We’ve actually written about these before but wanted to review some AdWords specific insights today.

Each of the Multi-Channel Funnel reports has data from AdWords that an AdWords account link.

Assisted Conversions & Top Conversion Paths

Each of the Multi-Channel Funnel reports has data from AdWords but the Assisted Conversions and Top Conversion Paths reports have some additional functionality for segmenting AdWords traffic from other channels that the Time Lag and Path Length reports do not have. The functionality is the same for our two reports, so I’ll use Assisted Conversions as an example, but you can do all the same filtering and segmentation in the Top Conversions Path report as well.

When you first navigate to the Assisted Conversions report, you’ll be presented with data from all channels and a default table showing the MCF Channel Groupings and their performance. It looks something like this:

You can then go a couple of routes to get the AdWords data you’re interested in.

In the Primary Dimension list, you can choose Other with the dropdown arrow and you’ll see a section of options listed just for AdWords.

Should you navigate directly to this section, you’ll notice that the table will continue to include data from other channel sources, but will have (not set) shown for many of them.

If you are trying to see similar data for AdWords and other channels, Bing Ads, for example, you’ll want to choose your dimensions from the Acquisition list rather than the AdWords list. These have the potential to have data from other channels, but the AdWords reports do not.

If you want to see only the AdWords data by itself and remove many of these (not set) columns, it’s easiest to choose the Type at the top of the page and flip it to AdWords, like so:

Once you’ve done that, all the (not set) pieces should go away.

Additionally, you’ll notice that flipping the toggle also changes the options you’re given in the Primary Dimensions list:

A number of the old options go away, but you’re still provided with a list of the most likely candidates as well as a customizable list through the Other dropdown.

So there you have it! Linking AdWords and Analytics can provide benefits within both channels and doesn’t take very long to set up. So what are you waiting for? Get those accounts linked and start sharing audiences and data today!

What are your favorite reasons for tying Google Analytics and AdWords together? What reporting features do you find most valuable? Share with us in the comments!