PPC Conversion Tracking: A Complete Guide

Laura Caveney
12th May 2021

PPC conversion tracking is often overlooked, but is an essential part of your paid reporting. Tracking metrics like clicks and impressions is important, but without conversion tracking you can’t see how your ads impact your bottom line

So your Google Ads are all set up. Now, you’re watching your ads and keywords generate an impressive number of impressions and clicks.

That’s exactly what you want, right? Wrong.

While impressions and clicks are important metrics to track, you can’t see how many of those then result in sales without Google Ads conversion tracking.

In this blog, we’re going to walk you through:


What is PPC conversion tracking?

Conversion tracking is a powerful tool developed by Google Ads that allows you to identify how well your ad campaign is performing by measuring lead generation, sales, downloads and other key actions that occur after a customer interacts with your advert.

The data you get allows you to identify what’s working and what isn’t, so you can optimise your ads, your copy, your keywords and your landing pages accordingly. Once you’ve identified your chosen conversions, it’s easy to set your PPC conversion tracking up across all of your campaigns.


P.S. Are you stuck on how to track offline conversions? Tracking calls and other offline conversions don’t have to be a chore. Download our FREE eBook to find out how to make offline conversion tracking a breeze.


Why you need PPC conversion tracking

If you’re an eCommerce business, then you can see revenue generation directly in Google Analytics and Google Ads. But what if a user clicks your PPC ad early on in their customer journey, but converts much later and via a different channel?

That sale will go unattributed and your ROAS will be unreliable.

And it’s even worse for B2B companies.

While you might be able to track lead generation by counting the volume of form submissions, what about offline conversions like phone calls? How can you attribute any conversion directly back to your PPC campaign?

And, if your PPC ad forms one small part of a customer journey, how are you ensuring that it still gets part of the credit?

This is where PPC conversion tracking comes in.

The best bit about PPC conversion tracking is that Google Ads is smart enough to take your data and automatically convert it into audience profiles, meaning you can paint a clear picture of your customers.

So, we know what Google Ads conversion tracking is and why it’s useful. How do we set it up?



Limitations of PPC conversion tracking

There are three main reasons why PPC conversion tracking, in isolation, isn’t enough to understand your marketing and its impact on sales.


Call tracking is unique to PPC Google Ads

Call conversion tracking is a necessary tool when setting up PPC campaigns. But what about all those calls you’re generating from organic search, or through social?

If your Google ads play a role in engaging users at the start of their buyer’s journey, but users are converting by different channels then it’s likely your adverts aren’t being fully attributed.


Call quality isn’t considered

While Google Ads does use call duration to determine if a conversion occurred, it doesn’t monitor the call itself. As such, you might be generating 100 phone calls, but 80 of those don’t fit your product or service. Is the PPC ad, therefore, generating high-quality leads? The short answer is no!


A lead doesn’t guarantee a sale

While it’s great to track leads, only tracking leads means you’re missing vital data. Do you know how many of those leads are converting into sales? And how are you tracking the individual journeys of users clicking on your ads?

Editor’s Note: Want to track your individual customer journeys and loop your closed sales back to your marketing? Download our closed-loop eBook to learn how to attribute your revenue using Ruler.


How do you track a conversion in Google Analytics?

There are a wide range of conversions that you can track using Google Ads. Here are the four main groups to get you started:

1) Webpage: If you want to track an action on your webpages, such as an online purchase, a form submission, or content download

2) Call on-site: If you want to track phone calls from a mobile device.

3) App download: If you want to track app downloads (both for Android and iOS) or app purchase activity

4) Import: If you use offline conversions such as phone calls, or use a sales team to nurture form submissions, then you can import your offline conversion data.


How to set up Google Ads conversion tracking

Setting up Google Ads conversion tracking does require adding HTML code into your website, particularly into pages customers will visit immediately after completing a particular campaign e.g. an order confirmation page.


Create a conversion action

Get started by clicking, Tools and Analysis tab in Google Ads and then select Conversions from the drop-down menu.


You’ll be taken to the All conversions page. Click on the conversions tab and then click the +conversion button to create your first conversion.


Click website. Select a conversion type, e.g book an appointment or sign-up.


Next to the ‘Conversion name’, enter a name for the conversion you want to track. This could be ‘newsletter sign up’ or ‘contact us form submission’. This name will be used to identify conversions in reports.

Then, next to value, select how to track the value of each conversion. You can add an amount that reflects the value of the action. Or, you can use real costs to track prices. You’ll need to customise your tag to track transaction-specific values.

Next to count, select how to count your conversions. ‘One’ is best for leads, when only one conversion per ad click adds value for your business, e.g. a sign-up form. ‘Every’ is best for sales, where every conversion adds value, e.g. a sale.




Then, click conversion window. Here you can choose how long you want to track conversions for. The maximum length is 90 days. Then click view-through conversion window. This max is 30 days.

Click to include in ‘conversions’. This setting (which is defaulted), lets you decide if you want to include data in your reporting column. Finally, select your attribution type. Ideally, you would select data-driven but you need a certain amount of conversion data to use this model.



Click create and continue. The screen will show you’ve created your conversion action.

The next step is to set up your tag on your website.



Set up your conversion tracking tag

To set up website conversion tracking for the first time, you’ll need to add two code snippets to your website: the global site tag and the event snippet.

The global site tag needs to be coded into every page of your website. You only need one global site tag for each Google Ads account. Meanwhile, every conversion you want to track needs its own event snippet and needs to be installed on the site page for which you want to track that conversion.

There are two ways to install your tags:

Option 1: Install the tag yourself
Option 2: Use Google Tag Manager

Here’s an easy walk-through from Google themselves on how to add the conversion tracking tag regardless of which method you choose.


Analysing your Google Ads conversion data

Once your conversion tracking is all set up, you can start reporting.

You’ll find all the data on your conversions in the Campaigns tab at the ad group, ads, and keywords levels. Click the Columns tab, then Conversions, to customise which columns appear.


Google Ads conversion tracking metrics to take note of

Some of the basic columns include:

Conv. (1-per-click): Counts each time you receive one or more conversions from a single ad-click. You can use this number to approximate the number of new customers you’re getting.

Cost / conv. (1-per-click): Displays your cost (how much you spent on clicks) divided by your total conversions. This helps you measure your return on investment (ROI). Ideally, you should be spending less on clicks than you’re earning on conversions.

Conv. rate (1-per-click): Shows the percentage of clicks that resulted in conversions. The higher the percentage, the more effectively the ads or keywords are performing.

View-through conv.: Measures the number of times a customer viewed, but did not click on, your ad and later went through with a conversion.


How to Track Every Conversion across Every Channel

Google Ads’ conversion tracking doesn’t allow us to differentiate conversions that happen from an organic search from those from a social referral.

While it’s great to get visibility of how your paid advertising is affecting your lead generation, it’s not enough.


Learn more about offline conversion tracking and how you can use smart bidding to optimise your PPC campaigns. We spoke to Odolena Kostova, Account Manager at Google, for her insight into smart bidding whether you’re new or experienced.


Getting Started with Conversion Tracking

So you want to track more than your PPC conversions. And, you want to see how other channels play a role in your conversions?

It sounds complicated but it doesn’t have to be.

Marketing attribution with Ruler Analytics means you can track every conversion and lead (plus all of their interactions with your website). But, even better, you can credit closed revenue back to your marketing channels, campaigns and adverts.

Let’s use an example.

Sara visits your website for the first time via a PPC advertising campaign. But, she doesn’t convert. She visits again from a retargeted Facebook advert. Again, she doesn’t convert.

tracking customer journeys with Ruler


A few weeks later, she searches for you organically and converts by filling in a form requesting a demo of your product.

Here, Ruler will fire all of this customer journey data to your CRM. So, you’ll have all the data you need to convert her into a sale.

tracking customer journey

When she sits her demo a few weeks later, and converts into a sale, Ruler fires the revenue data associated with her in your CRM to your analytics tools.

It means you can see closed revenue in your Google Ads dashboard, your Facebook Business Manager and in Google Analytics. Even better, in Ruler, you can switch between attribution model types to see how your revenue fluctuates per channel, per campaign and even per keyword!

Start tracking your conversions and your revenue

Getting set up with multi-touch attribution is simple. Have a quick call with our team who’ll run you through what our software can do.  Add a simple bit of code to your website, and you’re pretty much ready to get started!

Plus remember, we integrate with thousands of other apps meaning you can send data to and from whichever tools you need to.

Editor’s Note: Notice a discrepancy between the numbers you see in Google Ads compared to Google Analytics? You’re not alone.

Download our FREE eBook which troubleshoots why this might be happening and how you can ensure you have one single source of truth when it comes to marketing data.