Integrating Google Analytics with Pay Per Click (PPC) Reports to Beat Your Competition


Published in the National Marketing Executive Group Blog:

In the world of web marketing, I have found there is so much confusion in client reporting that unless you are a Google Analytics and PPC pro it is easy enough for your agency to position the data in ways that are confusing at best and downright misleading at worst. You have a dashboard you say not just spreadsheets? OK—but does your dashboard report on the items discussed below?

How do you really know if your Google Pay Per Click or AdWords campaign is performing well against the competition? This brief post is in no way meant to be exhaustive in scope, but it will give you some good questions to ask your PPC/Analytics team.

First of all, if you don’t have Google Analytics installed on every page of your website or landing page(s), then you are missing out on what my agency’s Google representative states as “Google Analytics and AdWords must go hand in glove for the best results.”

Getting the Most for Your Pay Per Click

Let’s start with the fact that without a PPC campaign in place, Google will not even show you in Analytics what the key search terms entered were that triggered visits to your website. From both a PPC (Pay Per Click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, it is important to have a PPC campaign in place to understand what keywords, content, and meta tags are effective to attract the clients and customers you want on the web to visit your website. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

For more evidence on this fact I direct your attention to this article in Forbes: “Will 2014 Be An SEO Or PPC Year For Marketers?”

Next, I will use a live client I work with in Chicago that specializes in Kitchen Renovations and Remodeling. They have an extensive showroom in the Chicago suburbs that was not very well known or visited. Google AdWords has changed all that for a fraction of the cost of traditional media

Starting with the results of a report only available for PPC clients, see below the “Auction Insights Report.” My clients have nowhere near the budgets that their big brand name competitors at IKEA, Home Depot, Lowes and others do, but my client is continuing to beat the big guys at their own game at least on the web.

The AdWords campaign is so successful we’ve put together a dealer co-op advertising program for one of their major cabinet manufacturers to roll out later next year giving each dealer an exclusive PPC advertising territory.

This brings up another area where you might not be aware of the difference between PPC and SEO. A PPC campaign can be easily limited to a geographic zone from a mileage radius surrounding a retail location or an uploaded zip code list to a voting district (political campaign ads anyone?), to an entire state, county, city, or Nielsen DMA. All these choices are available in AdWords. In other words, why spend money to attract people nationally or globally if all you really need to do is reach them within 10 miles of your brick and mortar locations and set up separate budgets for each location?

The Right Analytics to Drive Your Pay Per Click

Now I want to direct your attention to the graphics below the Auction Insights Report which do not come from AdWords PPC reporting but instead from Google Analytics. The reason my clients can see their search terms and the keywords that are working is because I have linked their PPC AdWords campaign to their Analytics account. We can see what keywords and search terms are working and optimize accordingly.

On this point, Google itself reports that roughly 20% of all searches it sees are “never before seen on Google in the past 90 days.” Think about the infinite number of combinations that people can enter into Google and how different trends, products, and services come in and go out of the marketplace. This is another reason why web campaigns require continuous optimization to perform well.

One of the tools I use is the Google Trending dashboard which can report on search results from Google dating back to 2004 globally, nationally, by state, metro, and city level. I can also see whether a search term is trending up or down and what news headlines may be influencing the trend.

How helpful would that be to your next campaign spend in either traditional, social, or web media?

Finally, if should be seeing the Acquisition Overview graphics in Google Analytics every month showing the breakdown of web traffic visiting your sites by:

Paid Search

If you are not, you are missing a key metric. US Marketing provides the graphics below and more to all our clients along with an Analysis and Recommendations in bullet point summary form because there is so much confusion in web reporting.

Auction Insights Report

With the Auction Insights Report, you can see how successful your keywords, ad groups, or campaigns are in terms of impression share, average position and other statistics in relation to those of other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions.
Acquisition Insights Report for Better Pay Per Click

Google Definitions

Impression Share
How often a participant received an impression, as a proportion of the auctions in which you were competing.

Average Position
The average position on the search results page for the participant’s ads when they received an impression.

Overlap Rate
How often another participant’s ad received an impression when your ad also received an impression.

Position above rate
When you and another participant received an impression in the same auctions, how often the other participant’s ad was shown in a higher position on the page than yours was.

Top of page rate
When a participant’s ads received impressions, how often it appeared at the top of the page above the search results.