The Google Ads Conversion Tracking Bible

Out of everything we’ve put out over the years this has been the most read piece of content we have here. It’s been fully updated (for Google Adwords to Google Ads -global site tag- transition) and even expanded upon to meet all your conversion tracking needs.

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One of the definitions for the saying, “Shot In The Dark”, is: “An attempt that has little chance of succeeding”. You don’t ever want to start a Google Ads campaign without conversion tracking set up! If you truly want your campaigns to perform don’t just give it a shot in the dark.

Without it there’s a lot of guesswork involved – it makes figuring out your campaign return-on-investment much more difficult, and now more than ever the algorithms built into Google Ads needs conversion data to work to full potential. With tracking installed Google Ads will do a lot of the work and calculations for you and you’ll know which specific keywords and keyword match type variations are performing best.


How Google Ads Conversions Work

A conversion is an action you want users to take. Every campaign you run should have an ultimate goal of users requesting your service, purchasing from your store, downloading content or signing up for your email newsletter. Inside Google Ads you’re provided with a snippet of HTML and Javascript code that you or your developer will place on your website or within your app, and it tells the Google Ads platform a conversion has happened when that code has “fired”.


New Global Site Tag

It’s important to note that back in late 2017 Google rolled out a new type of website tracking tag (gtag.js) that can be used for conversion tracking as well as audience (think remarketing) page view (even Google Analytics) tracking all in one. Prior to this you’d have two, or even three, separate scripts (one for conversions, one for remarketing, and another for Google Analytics) on your website. This new script is more accurate and faster to use.

This new tag on it’s own will not track conversions (a second script needs to be added for the actual conversion tracking) nor is it absolutely required to create a new conversion action in Google Ads. It is however our recommended method for future-proofing and getting more accurate tracking data from your campaigns.

A situation where you might not need to add the Global Site Tag is if you already have Google Tag Manager live on your website. Within GTM you can easily create your new Google Ads conversion actions. See the GTM section for more.


How To Set Up Google Ads Conversion Tracking

To get started login to your account and click on the link that says “TOOLS” at the top.
Google Ads Tools Link
Then in the dropdown menu choose, “CONVERSIONS”:
Google Ads Conversions Link
On the next screen you’ll want to click the big blue circle with a “+” in it and you’ll see these options:

Google Ads Choose Conversion Type

Here you’ll be choosing which type of conversion you want to track.

Website, App Downloads, or Phone Calls. Most of you will probably want to choose Website first but if you’re looking for app or phone conversions you can skip ahead to those sections which are a little further down: App Conversion Tracking | Phone Call Conversion Tracking.

So let’s click on “Website” for now and you’ll see these options next:

Google Ads Website Conversion Settings
Conversion Window for Google Ads

CONVERSION NAME: Just pick a unique name (something that you and others will recognize later) for your conversion.

CATEGORY: Pick one that closely matches to what you’re tracking on your website.

VALUE: How much is each conversion worth to you? Is it the same amount each time? If so this step is very easy for you. Just pick the first option, “Use the same value for each transaction”, and enter in that amount. If you don’t want to enter a value for your conversions for now then you’ll pick the third option, “Don’t use a value”.

If you sell multiple products or services and they all have different (dynamic) values each time then instructions on how to properly track them all will vary depending on what platform and web technology your website is built with. We’ll cover most of the popular platforms further down below. First pick the option, “Use different values for each conversion”, and enter in a default amount that Google should use just in case a value isn’t passed when your conversion happens. This is a backup in case of issues.

COUNT: Here you’ll be choosing how to exactly count your conversions. Do you want Google Ads to take credit for every single conversion that happens after an ad click or do you just want to know that a certain type of conversion happened at least once. This will depend on your business and goals. Let’s say that you’re running ads for leads only – no sales transactions. You’ll probably just want to pick, “One”, here. For example, you have 3 different white papers for users to request. After clicking your ad and arriving at your website, one user requests all 3 white papers. Do you want to count that as 3 different conversions or just 1? But if you’re an e-commerce store and someone clicks your ad and buys 3 different items you’d probably want to have, “Every”, chosen here. It’s just a matter of how you’d like to track it.

CONVERSION WINDOW: How long do you want Google to keep taking credit for the conversion after ad click? Typically 30 days is chosen but ultimately comes down to your business. Do you have a long sales “window” from lead to actual business? Then longer than 30 days is probably a better option for you.

VIEW-THROUGH CONVERSION WINDOW: How long do you want Google to keep taking credit for the conversion after a user SAW your ad? This is when your search or display ads are seen by a logged in Google user. These users didn’t click your ad but ended up converting on your website anyway. We usually go with 1 day here but again it depends on your business and goals.

INCLUDE IN CONVERSIONS: This just means if you want this conversion action to be included in the Conversions column inside a Google Ads campaign. Sometimes you may want to track smaller, micro actions as conversions inside the platform, but not necessarily want Google Ads to optimize or calculate cost per conversion or conversion rates off of it.

ATTRIBUTION MODEL: Although there isn’t a wrong choice here you really should strive for anything other than “LAST CLICK” for this unless you’re just absolutely certain that users are only clicking and converting on one search/ad click. Our favorite tends to be “TIME DECAY”.

Here’s a scenario describing how Time Decay would work:
Say a user does 3 different searches (all relevant to your account) within your Conversion Window time frame. 1 ad click 28 days ago, 2nd ad click 20 days ago and the 3rd, and most recent click, was 2 days ago. The user finally converted on your site with that 3rd ad click. In this case Ad 1 would get partial (but least) credit, Ad 2 would get partial credit, but the final ad would get most credit.

You can read more about how Google describes each model here and read up on their push away from Last Click here.

That does it. Hit the blue “SAVE & CONTINUE” button and next you’ll see these options:
Add Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag
You’ll either be copy/pasting this code yourself (outside of or inside of Google Tag Manager) or sending it to your developer to handle. If you’re emailing it to your dev then you’re good to go for now but if you’ll be doing this yourself we try and cover many of the popular platforms and web technologies below.

If you click on the “Install the tag yourself” option you’ll be met with even more instructions that will vary based on what stage of the game you’re at. Sort of a Choose Your Own Adventure situation.
install Google adwords tracking yourself
We’re going to assume this is your first time setting up tracking so that’s the route we take here next. And this is where the new Global Site Tag comes into play. 📌(**If you already have the new Global Site Tag version of Google Analytics installed on your site then it’s as easy as adding an extra line to that script. Google’s Help article shows how here.) We’ll go with the default option of “The global site tag isn’t installed on all of your HTML pages”. It says that you need to copy this script and paste it into the < head > tags of your site. That way it fires on every page view.

Page Load or Button Click Conversion Snippets

In addition to the main script above you’ll be adding an additional one that actually tracks the conversion(s). This too goes in the < head > tag of your site. Which one you use depends on if want the conversion tracking script to fire on a page load (your thank-you/confirmation page) or when a button (like a Buy Now or Sign Up) is clicked.
Google ads Pageload or Click
More often than not you’ll be using the “Page Load” option here. But if you’re sending traffic to a 3rd party site where you can’t place tracking on the final confirmation page, or if you just want to track certain buttons as smaller micro conversions, then you’d use the “Click” option and that snippet looks like this:
Google Ads Click Conversion
Notice that it says to “call gtag_report_conversion” when someone clicks the button that you want to track. Some of you are completely lost right now aren’t you? We’ll get you through it! What that means is that we need to flag Google Ads when our button is clicked. There are a number of different ways to get the same result depending on what coding language you (or your developer) decides to use, but here’s an example that should work just fine for you.

First we have a regular HTML button you might find on your website:
html button code
And now lets add in the gtag_report_conversion reference that Google told us to include:
html button with Google Ads onClick
Now (as long as your Global Site Tag Snippet is also in place) this particular button will “fire” a signal back to Google Ads when the user came to the site via an ad click.

📌 **Remember: if your conversion values are different every time (dynamic conversion values) then you’ll need to modify the Page Load conversion code given to you. If this applies to you what needs to change is covered in each section below. Look for the platform or web technology that your website runs on.**

Let’s use two quick examples to help you understand when dynamic conversion values would be needed or not:

First let’s say you’ve got 3 different informational courses for sale on your website. They cost $99, $129, and $159. It would probably be easier for you to just create 3 different thank-you pages and 3 different conversions in Google Ads here. One for each price point.

But now let’s say that you have 300 different items for sale on your eCommerce store. You obviously wouldn’t create 300 different thank-you pages and 300 different conversions here. You’d go the “dynamic conversion tracking” route in this situation. And again, accomplishing that will depend on what platform your site or online store runs on.


Tracking Conversions On A Basic HTML Website

Although it’s rare these days but if you’ve got a really simple website built with good old fashioned HTML & CSS on no major platform or CMS, (like WordPress), you’ll just need to open every page of your site in your favorite code editor.

A) Take the Global Site Tag (or double check that’s in place because of Google Analytics) given to you in Google Ads and make sure it’s placed inside the < head > < / head > tags of each one of your site pages.

B) Then place the actual conversion tag (either for Page Load or Click) on only the page you need tracking on. The conversion tracking should NOT be in place on every page (unless you have a button to track on every page that is). This snippet also goes in the < head > < / head > tags of this page.

Save all your page files and re-upload them to your server.

Tracking Conversions With WordPress

I’m willing to bet a lot of you are using WordPress to power your websites so let’s dive into a few different scenarios that you probably fall into.

A) Not selling with WooCommerce or online store plugin and just have a pretty basic WordPress theme without a lot of options? In this situation we’re going to assume that you’re going for lead-gen or newsletter sign up conversions.

If your conversion value changes each time (dynamic conversion values), you’ll need to edit the code snippet some. Remove what’s crossed-out here and add in what’s highlighted:

Adwords Dynamic Conversion Tracking For PHP

Once that’s done save the page and you’re all set!

Tracking Conversions With Woocommerce

If you’re selling with Woocommerce and all products are just one price-point go ahead and install this add-on plugin here. Once it’s installed hover over “Woocommerce” in your admin panel, and then click on “settings” as seen here:

conversion tracking woocommerce

Once inside you’ll see this:

woocommerce conversion pixel

Click on the “Integration” tab up top and then you’ll paste the conversion tracking code into the “Checkout Scripts” box. If your conversions have no values or they don’t change each time, then you’re all done. Just save!

If you need dynamic conversion tracking then you can install this plugin here: which should track conversions that change in value each time.

Tracking Conversions With Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is a very popular contact form plugin for WordPress with over a million installs. If you’re using this and want to track form submissions as conversions in Adwords, just install this Contact Form 7 add-on that redirects users to a thank-you page after submitting the form. On that thank-you page is where you’d have your conversion tracking code that Adwords has provided for you.

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Request your Adwords book here

Tracking Conversions With Shopify

Once you’re logged into your Shopify account, find the “Settings” link in your admin panel:

shopify admin

And then you’ll need to click on the “Checkout” link:

shopify admin checkout

Once inside the checkout area scroll to “Order Processing”:

shopify adwords conversion tracking script

You’ll see a box that says, “Additional content and scripts”. This is where your Adwords conversion tracking code will go. Paste in here and save.

For those that need dynamic conversion tracking:

Within your conversion tracking code replace this: var google_conversion_value = 1; with this: if ({{ subtotal_price }}) { var google_conversion_value = {{ subtotal_price | money_without_currency }}; }.

Hit save and you’re done!

Tracking Conversions With BigCommerce

Login to your account and over in the top right-hand corner you should see this “Setup & Tools” link:

bigcommerce admin

Within the dropdown find the link that says “Conversions”:

 adwords conversion tracking

You’ll be given a box to paste your conversion tracking code into.

For dynamic conversion tracking:

Find this line in your code snippet: var google_conversion_value = 0.00; and replace it with this: var google_conversion_value = %%ORDER_AMOUNT%%;

Don’t forget to click the save button!

Tracking Conversions With MailChimp

If you’re counting Mailchimp form submissions as conversions then you need to redirect users to a custom thank-you page after doing so. Mailchimp already has a perfect guide on setting this up here.

Once you’ve got that setup, just make sure that your conversion tracking code snippet is installed on this page. After a user has signed-up or sent a submission they’ll be sent to this page and Adwords will record a conversion for you.

Adwords Conversion Tracking For Mobile Apps

First you’ll need to create a new conversion. Once logged in to your account click the “Tools” link at the top and then pick “Conversions”.

On the next screen you’ll pick “App”:

app conversion tracking

You’ll need to pick which type of app you need tracking for. Android or iOS.

App Tracking For Android

You can track your app downloads, opens, and in-app actions that happen because of your ad campaigns.

App Tracking For iOS

It’s a little harder to track your iOS apps. iOS conversion tracking is currently available only for ads that show in mobile apps on the Display Network. You can track first-opens and in-app actions.

Android downloads

1) Name Your App.
2) Give It A Value. (usually the price of the app)
3) Package Name. You can find it by looking up your app in Google Play. It’s the part of the base URL that identifies your application:


Once you’ve entered the package name, click on “View in Google Play” and make sure this takes you to your app’s page on Google Play. Click Done.

Android and iOS opens (advanced)

App open tracking starts the same as download tracking:
1) Name Your App
2) Give It A Value (usually the price of the app)
3) Package Name.
4) Postback URL (This option allows you to send conversions information back to your Android app analytics package. Enter the postback URL that your app analytics provider has given you.)
5) Click “Save and Continue”.
6) Google goes on to describe what you’ll need to do next: Select one of the two options under “Set up your tracking method.”

A) Put tracking code into the app: Select this option if you want to use the Google conversion tracking SDK to add conversion tracking code to your app.

B) Set up a server-to-server conversion feed from an app analytics package to AdWords: Select this option if you use a 3rd-party app analytics server and want to use it to track AdWords install conversions. Select whether to save the information or email it to your developer.

Android and iOS in-app actions (advanced)

1) Name Your App.
2) Give It A Value.
3) Package Name.
4) Count. (Select whether to count all or unique conversions. “All” is best for sales; “unique” is best for leads.)
5) Category.
6) Hit “Save and Continue”.
7) Choose how to setup your tracking. Place it right within the app or let Adwords know you’ll be using a 3rd-party analytics server.

How To Setup Adwords Call Tracking

Not all conversions have to be digital only. You can even count phone calls to your business as conversions too!

Login to your account and click on the “Tools” link at the top. Then choose “Conversions”, and then pick “Phone Calls” on the next screen:

adwords phone only conversions

Next you’ll need to decide your situation:

Calls from ads using call extensions or call-only ads. There’s a campaign type where you can run ads that only allow phone calls and no website visits. If that’s what you’re doing then this is the setting you’d choose. In addition to that, if you have call extensions running on your ads, (I talked about them here) you’ll also pick this option. Note: This requires a Google Forwarding Number in order to work.

Calls to a phone number on your website This option is for those of you who are sending traffic to a page on your website that lists your phone number. If you want Adwords to track phone calls once users are on your website, then you’ll be choosing this option. Note: This requires a Google Forwarding Number and some custom code in order to work. Google walks you through it in 3 parts here. Google will provide you with another code snippet to add to the area of your web page where the number is displayed. You’ll also be provided a little bit of Javascript that needs to be added to the page as well.

How To Track Link And Button Clicks As Conversions

In some situations you may need to track link or button clicks as conversions. If so you’ll setup a new website conversion as described up at the very beginning of this article. Where things change though, is after the conversion is saved and you’re given your code snippet:

adwords advanced tag settings

Click the “advanced tag link” and then choose, “Click”:

adwords conversion tracking for clicks

Now you’ll edit the page’s HTML where the button or link lives at. Open the page and you’ll paste in your Adwords code snippet somewhere within the <BODY></BODY> tags of the page. You’ll also need to add something called an “onclick” to the button or link that you want to track. Here’s a link example:

<a href="#">DOWNLOAD NOW</a>

Now here’s what that link would look like after adding the onclick:

<a onclick="goog_report_conversion ('')" href="#" >DOWNLOAD NOW</a>

Now whenever your users click on that link, a conversion will be recorded in Adwords.

Be careful with this. If this page has other traffic sources (non-Adwords traffic) going to it, Adwords will be counting their clicks as well. So make sure this page can only be accessed by your Adwords traffic.

(For you more-advanced users who want to use this method with Ajax, this conversation here should be helpful.)

That does it folks! Let us know your thoughts. Need us to cover more scenarios or web platforms? Need it done for you? Request Adwords management, or let us know on Twitter

By |2019-01-07T22:45:32+00:00August 24th, 2015|Google Ads|