How To Track PPC Landing Pages With Google Analytics

So, your business is looking to attract new customers online. Your online content is optimized and good to go, you’re blogging for business leads, and you’ve got social media tie-ins all set up. You’ve developed relevant landing pages for PPC ads, and you’re finally ready to deploy your list of PPC ads and start raking in sponsored traffic. It’s time to set Google Analytics up to track your PPC landing pages so you can see what visitors hit first, and whether or not your content marketing is performing at its best.

This actually does involve some work on your behalf. If you leave Google Analytics alone, it will track your data just fine, but it won’t separate it into rich measurements you can actually use: in fact, PPC traffic and SEO/search result traffic is all lumped together as “organic” traffic in standard reports. With patience and a bit of tech savvy, you can keep an eye on every little detail of your PPC campaign and have access to rich metric data on where your traffic is coming from within Analytics.

Tracking The Easy Way: Auto-Tagging With Analytics and AdWords

If you’re using Google AdWords alongside Google Analytics, there is an automatic link tagger that will sort your AdWords traffic by keyword. No manual tagging or scripting necessary, just identify a few parameters and Google will do the work for you. To turn this on, go to your AdWords account settings and simply select the Auto-tagging checkbox.

If you have other campaigns outside of Google AdWords that you want to track, or you’re running promotions that don’t employ AdWords, manual tagging is necessary.

Tagging and tracking your PPC results requires appending tags to your landing page URLs within the links you provide potential visitors. This is the actual link you want people to click, so the link you tag should be what goes into AdWords or other PPC services; that is, it should be the link you want people to click. Tagging is straightforward and uses designations you set up in Analytics yourself to help you sort your campaigns. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry: I’m about to show you an example.

The Hard Part, Made Simple: Google URL Builder

Google provides an incredibly useful URL Builder for users building a custom campaign. With this builder, you can add dynamic tags to your landing pages that Google Analytics will separate into discoverable traffic data for you.

Here’s my example: let’s say I’m setting a new PPC campaign for Content Equals Money. I’ve built a new webpage with the address http:// I paste this into the Website URL on Google’s URL Builder tool, and now I need to build the tags that will set this apart from my other traffic data.

Campaign Source will be “AdWords”, since I’m implementing my PPC campaign through their service. My Campaign Medium is a description for what kind of medium this is through, like direct email, a physical campaign, or a PPC campaign. It’s a PPC ad, so I’ll use “PPC.” If this was a link from a sponsored search term, I would fill the search term into the “Campaign Term” box, but that’s not applicable here and isn’t required information. The campaign content is a text-based PPC link, so I’ll fill “textlink” into the box. My campaign needs a name so I know what it’s from, so I’ll say this is my “PayPerClickAds” campaign.

Click Generate URL, and it gives me this:

It looks like a jumble, but it’s actually pretty easy to split up and see where your tags have been placed. Let’s look at it again, this time with each separate element highlighted:

I’ve divided each tag and its necessary operator with text formatting to show you more clearly how your URL tags are formatted. The extra tags on the end of your link will not actually affect the link you send people to, it only sends you valuable tracking data for Analytics purposes. Google’s URL Builder tool has a helpful description of each tag below the builder itself, which will make constructing your URL easier to understand.

Bringing It All Together

Once you have your tagged link, supply it to your PPC campaign, and whenever your PPC ad shows up, users will click the link with these additional tags appended to it. When they do, Google Analytics will record this traffic with all of its specific tag data, allowing you to differentiate this traffic from the rest and see exactly where your traffic is coming from, for every tagged link you direct into your website.

After you’ve gotten enough hits with your tagged links, you can view your new data quickly and easily. Go to your Analytics dashboard, select Content, then Site Content, then Landing Pages. Google automatically keeps track of your landing pages based on what users first see when they hit your domain, so if you’re directing paid or search traffic to a particular webpage, Google will naturally classify it as a landing page. From the Landing Page dashboard, you can search for the specific tag you want to look at in the search box, and analyze the results for yourself.

(special thanks to Luna Metrics for providing this image)

You can also set up an Advanced Segment to monitor overall incoming traffic from your campaigns, and a Custom Report to have a preconfigured report ready for analysis.

With a little planning and careful PPC strategy management, you can monitor exactly how your various ad campaigns are performing, meaning you spend as little wasted money as possible on ad campaigns that drive visitors to your services.

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this Andrew! Google analytics can be baffling at times so I appreciate the clarification.
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