Simple Solutions to Better Measure Paid Search Performance in Google Analytics

If you are a seasoned Google AdWords and Analytics user, you’ve probably seen that the clicks from your paid search programs usually don’t match up to the number of visits in Analytics.  Why not?

One problem is that sometimes the clicks from Google’s Content Network are listed in the referral medium, not CPC. Internal ‘test clicks’ are also measured plus other paid programs from Yahoo and MSN may greatly skew the numbers – making it literally impossible to measure the overall ROI of all paid clicks. It can be a nightmare if you use unique HTML code for the different paid search Analytics programs and create extended time periods just to create the reports.

If you are having difficulties getting the numbers to match up correctly, it may be time to review and update the process of creating landing pages. One big problem I’ve found is that the actual URL of the pages do not adhere to a standard set of rules.

If you are using a specific landing page for paid search, simply rename the URL of the page to

www.company.com/ppc/offer-number-one

If you use this method, then once the pages are live you can easily go into your content report, scroll down to the bottom, and filter all the pages that contain /ppc.

If you are spending a lot of money in both AdWords and Yahoo, just create duplicate landing pages and name the URLs

www.company.com/ppc-yahoo/offer-number-one

www.company.com/ppc-google/offer-number-one

It will be important to use the robot.txt file for this specific folder in your site directory, as you don’t want these pages indexed by the search engines. Also, you will want to create unique “Thank You” pages for goal measurement of each landing page.

Another filtering option that is easily overlooked is the Filter Manager in your Analytics account settings. It gets a bit more complicated with this but in this section you can exclude ALL of the traffic from IP Addresses, domains and subdirectories. Keep in mind these filters will apply to all web traffic:

Go to your Profile Page

Select Filter Manager at the bottom of the screen

Select + Add Filter

Options include excluding traffic from domains, IP addresses, and more for the available website profile of your choosing and can be used as an alternative method of filtering specific marketing programs by just creating new Website Profiles in your overall analytics report.

These processes may take more time, but if you create a standard process of how to name web pages on your site and correctly filter the traffic that skews your data, it will really help you utilize the power of Analytics and better measure the effectiveness and the ROI of your paid marketing programs.

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