We are often asked how to link AdWords and Google Analytics.
We often hear horror stories about businesses not being able to link their AdWords and GA accounts, therefore losing out on the insights and advantages. In extreme cases, some business have had to forfeit their data and open new GA accounts to be able to link their AdWords account.
The linking process itself is very straightforward and Google does a great job explaining this in the AdWords Help Center.
To complete the linking process, you need to have a Google Account with the following permissions:
- For the AdWords account(s): Administrative access
- For the Google Analytics property: Edit permissions
Once the accounts are linked you can change or remove these permissions as needed and your accounts will remain linked. So, if necessary, you can grant (or receive) temporary permissions in order to complete the linking process.
Simple right? So why the messy, time-consuming, pull-your-hair-out rigmarole?
Because of a lack of planning and poor GA and AdWords management practices!
In many cases, GA and AdWords accounts are set up by a third-party agency (often different agencies, depending on your pay-per-click (PPC), web design, and analytics strategy).
The agency may have created your Analytics property or AdWords campaign within an existing account, for greater account management efficiency. The following practices are all too common:
- Combining campaigns for multiple clients under a single AdWords account
- Tracking different client websites as properties within the same Analytics account
Why is this ‘bad for business’?
- It can prevent you from being able to link your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts:
- The agency will not want to grant you admin access to the account level of an AdWords account containing other clients
- You may not want to give your PPC agency Edit access to your GA property
- If you invest a great deal in AdWords and wish to leverage GA for additional insights and opportunities, you may have to start from scratch and create new accounts.
- This means you will lose continuity with your existing data.
- It also requires additional time, resources and budget.
Here are some tips for working with a PPC agency to ensure you have control and flexibility over your AdWords account:
- Require that a separate AdWords account be set up for your organization.
- Ensure you have full Administrative access to your accounts.
- Understand the AdWords user permissions and keep track of who else has access.
- Require that all AdWords users use a valid corporate email address as their Google login ID (no Gmail addresses!). This makes it easier to identify users and control access (especially when people leave their organization).
- Link your AdWords and GA accounts from the very beginning, before you launch your PPC activities (make it part of your execution ‘checklist’).
Aside: If you do not have your AdWords and GA accounts linked, we strongly recommend that you consider linking them as soon as possible. There are many advantages, including the ability to:
- View GA site engagement data within the AdWords interface
- Import GA goals and transactions into AdWords (as conversions)
- Create GA remarketing audience lists to use in AdWords for targeting specific audiences (e.g. Visitors of your clearance page who did not purchase a product)
Here are some tips for setting up Google Analytics when working with an agency or external vendor:
- Require that a new Google Analytics account is set up for your organization.
- Ensure you have full admin permissions to your GA Account(s).
- You should have Manage Users and Edit permissions (which includes Collaborate and Read & Analyze)
- Understand the Google Analytics user permissions and keep track of who else has access.
- Require that all Analytics users use a valid corporate email address as their Google login ID (no Gmail addresses!). This makes it easier to identify users and control access (especially when people leave their organization).
- Link your AdWords accounts to GA from the very beginning, before you launch your PPC activities (make it part of your execution ‘checklist’).
We hope these tips help you avoid (or put an end to) a horror story and enable you to spend more time using the account linking advantages to draw out more actionable insights so you can make better, smarter decisions.
If you have any other tips for a headache-free set up, we’d love to hear them.