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Linking Google Analytics and AdWords: FAQ

Linking Google Analytics and AdWords: FAQ


For people involved in marketing law firms using any pay per click advertising, one of the biggest changes this year has involved two Google products.  Google Analytics and AdWords can now be linked so that they work together to tell you more about whether your pay per click advertising is effective and what makes your best ads work.  These Frequently Asked Questions will help you understand whether linking Google Analytics and AdWords is a strategy your web marketing team should be considering.

What is Google AdWords?

Most attorneys who use internet advertising start with one of the most basic forms: the pay per click advertisement.  Since only people who are interested in the headline will usually click, the rates of return on these ads can sometimes be quite high (especially for longer keywords).  Google AdWords is the largest pay per click advertising program on the internet.  It allows legal marketing professionals to put their advertisements into people's Google search results.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tool that isn't used by consumers, but instead by businesses to track how people use their websites.  After you embed a small piece of computer code into your website, Google can track how visitors behave when using your pages and when they leave.  This information can be extremely useful, because it allows you to understand which parts of your website are underperforming and how to correct performance issues with any web page on your site.

Linking Google Analytics and AdWords is a new feature that began in November 2012.  If you're not linking Google Analytics and AdWords yet, don't worry—you're not behind the curve at all yet.  Now is the perfect time to start checking out how your AdWords campaigns are performing.  Most attorneys and legal marketing professionals' current approach to the problem of AdWords analytics can be summed up as “guesswork.”  Get rid of guesswork and go for data-driven results by linking Google Analytics and AdWords.

How Do I Link Google Analytics and AdWords?

To link the two programs, just go to AdWords Help.  From there, click “Google Analytics.”  You'll see three options, and the middle one is “Link Google Analytics and AdWords.”  You'll find a solution guide that shows you with a tutorial and video how to link both of these accounts.  You'll also learn how you can start using both applications if you're not already.

What Can I Do With The Information I Get?

If you go back one level, you'll also see a third option that says “See Google Analytics data within your AdWords account.”  This helps you figure out what your AdWords campaigns are doing directly from your AdWords account, without needing to switch over to using Google Analytics.

You can take a look at your bounce rate, which indicates how many people glanced at your website only briefly, then immediately exited from the website.  You can also look at the average visit duration.  This is the amount of time, on average, that someone visiting your site stayed before moving on to another website.  You can also see how many pages an average visitor to your website looked at before leaving, and what percentage of the visitors you're receiving are new.

How Will It Help To Link Google Analytics and Adwords?

In some cases, linking Google Analytics and Adwords can help you better understand how your website is working.  For example, the fact that one of your ads sees a very poor click through rate may discourage you and make you think that it's an ineffective ad.  However, do you really know what the traffic you're getting is doing after they get to your website through Google AdWords? 

Once you link Google Analytics and AdWords, you'll be able to see whether those low click through rates are because your ad was truly uninspiring—or whether instead, it just attracted people who wanted to contact your firm, and kept people who didn't need your services out. 

How Do I Experiment With Campaigns Efficiently?

If you want to have the best results from linking Google Analytics and Adwords, you'll need to do a bit of experimentation.  You can keep basic experimental principles in mind: only change one variable at once, because if you change too many things at once it's hard to tell which change made your ad more effective.

You should set up some side by side comparisons to see whether particular techniques or phrases seem to be particularly effective in drawing people to your website, especially people who eventually schedule a consultation visit.  You can develop hypotheses about targeting your ad to particular demographic groups, or you could start experimenting with the times of day or days of the week you run the majority of your advertisements.

What If The Data Doesn't Match Predictions/Perceptions?

One of the biggest challenges for people who base some advertising dollars on a conclusion, then find out that the data doesn't bear that conclusion out, is this: do I believe the data?  I thought I was right.  Once you link Google Analytics and AdWords, you may find out that you weren't always correct about your perceptions.

Keep in mind that the data doesn't lie—data-driven websites are what get the best results today.  Remember that when one of your experiments proves a hypothesis wrong, that's actually great!  A negative answer can sometimes be just as good for your efficiency as a positive one.  By saving you from going down the wrong road with your advertising spending, following the data and taking results of your analytics at face value will help you use your marketing budget wisely.

The worst kinds of results that you can get from an efficiency perspective are ambiguous results.  This is when you see a slight increase but you're not sure if you're really just noticing statistical “noise.”  When this happens, you may need to run additional tests to determine if you're really noticing a significant factor in your advertising targeting or copy.