Here’s the scenario – you’ve setup Google Analytics on your site, and verified it’s tracking properly. You’ve also setup an Adwords account, and enabled auto-tagging so you can track the performance of your individual campaigns, ads, etc. (don’t forget to enable cost data in your analytics settings, so you can integrate that into your reporting)
Now it’s time to link the two accounts together so you can get a holistic view of your website’s traffic, where it’s coming from, and how it’s performing. Simple enough you think, just hop in that adwords account, mosey on over to the ‘reporting’ tab and choose Google Analytics. There you’ll be presented with the option to link a new or existing GA account to this adwords account, do this now. (note: you should be aware that once you link this bad boy, all the profiles under that account will be affected by the cost data from adwords, so make sure you obey best practices and only setup profiles for that domain, or you’ll have other, bigger issues to deal with.)
In most cases, this will be an easy step – though you may run into complications if there are multiple analytics accounts (I’m not talking profiles,here – actual accounts) setup for the same domain. This will be a rare case, but you might encounter this if you’re setting things up for a client that wasn’t really sure what they were doing before they called you to help. In any case, just make sure you know the profile ID for the analytics account you’re setting up, to avoid confusion later on.
Ok, so finally – to my main point, here’s how to verify your adwords auto-tagging is working, without having to wait for your analytics data to be reported:
- add the following parameter to the end of your domain url, as follows: ?gclid=test (for example: http://www.mysite.com?gclid=test
- now paste that puppy into your address bar and see what happens.
Hopefully, nothing unusual – i.e. the page still loads properly, and the parameter is still visible in the address bar. Now add that parameter to several other pages across the site, that you might use as landing pages for your adwords ads. If everything works as above, great – you’re good to go. If the parameters disappear after you load the page or you wind up with 404s or some other error, you’ve likely got some redirection issues to deal with before you’re going to be able to correctly identify that adwords traffic.
It seems like such a no-brainer to do this check, but I have to admit that I used to just wait a day or two and then check the analytics to verify everything was being sent properly instead. Sometimes the simplest solutions are right in your face, but you’re too busy looking past them to realize it. This is why I recommend reading ‘starter posts’ on occasion, things move so fast, it’s near impossible NOT to miss something once in a while.