Many people manage Google paid search campaigns based solely upon the information provided in AdWords (reports, campaign views etc). I’m not saying you can’t manage an account using just this – but by combining the AdWords data with additional information from Google Analytics then you can look deeper into your campaigns to help assess it’s performance before making a judgement upon the best way forward.
Here are some of the Google Analytics metrics which can enhance your PPC campaign:
1) View Bounce Rate and Average Time on Site
By reviewing user activity information such as the bounce rate and average time on site you can assess the effectiveness of your landing page and keywords.
This also provides information upon the relevancy of keywords and ad variations, with low average time on site stats and high bounce rates suggesting that users aren’t finding what they are searching for and clicking back to find another site instead. You can also compare the quality of traffic from different sources, are Yahoo! users more likely to browse your website for longer than an average visit from Google? How high is the bounce rate from the content network? Are your email marketing or banner advertising campaigns as effective as search engine traffic? And so on…
2) Find Exact Referred Search Terms
Using Google Analytics you can analyse the referring keywords in more detail, finding the actual search terms triggered by your broad and phrase match keywords. The Google AdWords search query report provides this information to a certain extent but sometimes groups similar instances of keywords together without providing full details.
This can be a great way to quickly find if your ad is being displayed for irrelevant queries, for example I found a search on blog design listed several ads about furniture design instead!
3) Heatmapping – Site Overlay
To be honest I prefer to use Crazy Egg but the Site Overlay report in Google Analytics provides a clear overview of where users are clicking on a landing page. Clearly showing if users are regularly distracted from your main call-to-action and leaded away to a page of lesser importance.
4) Country/Regional Location Data
In Google AdWords it’s good practice to separate the main countries into new campaigns, rather than bidding on the same keywords and using the same ads/landing pages in the UK, US, Canada, Australia etc. But there’s only so far you can split this down without making the account too difficult to keep track of. By viewing the Google Analytics visitors map overlay you can quickly find where the majority of users are coming from at the country level, drilling down to view regional data, and viewing the bounce rate, average time on site and conversion figures for each location. Making it very clear if users from Liverpool aren’t interested in buying the new Manchester United shirt, but in Dubai everyone wants one!
5) Goal Tracking – Finding Brand Conversions
Finally, in addition to Google AdWords conversion tracking, you can view very useful conversion data from all traffic sources. So if perhaps your Google AdWords campaign conversion rate is low, rather than classing this as a failure by looking at Google Analytics you may find it’s not doing so badly after all. It’s possible that in fact users don’t buy from your site straight away but do remember your brand or bookmark the site, this means that they may return to the site at a later date via a direct visit or brand search and complete a transaction. In Yahoo Search Marketing these are counted as conversion assists, Google doesn’t provide this information but you can make educated guesses towards this by analysing the conversion data from direct and brand search visits and considering the new visits percentage for these.
When combined with the information in your Google AdWords account such as clickthrough rates for keywords and ads, this can certainly make an impact on your campaigns performance and ROI. Just make sure your account is linked and auto-tagging is enabled!