A Decade of Google Analytics – Top Tips For Using Analytics To Improve Your Google Adwords Activity6 min read

Happy Birthday Google Analytics!

How can you be just 10 years old?!

We mean no offence by this, however where Google Adwords turned 15 last month it’s hard to fathom there was ever a period when Google Adwords existed without you.

Without you we wouldn’t be able to so easily see how many visitors a website gets, and what traffic source they’ve come from.

Without you we wouldn’t know what people did once they reached the website; how long they hung around for, what pages they looked at, or where they dropped off.

Without you, we wouldn’t know exactly how many people are on the website RIGHT NOW, and through which marketing medium they came!

Ok, so there are other Analytics options out there, but Google Analytics really is the Buzz Lightyear to Google Adwords’ Woody; the easily assimilated best friend that brings new whole new levels of excitement to Google Adwords that we could no longer do without. Plus it’s a free tool – allowing us to tap into this data without fees!


With this in mind we wanted to celebrate the 10th Year of Google Analytics by providing you with our top tips for using it to improve your Google Adwords activity.

Tip #1 Link your Google Analytics and Google Adwords Accounts Up

Whilst you can independently see a whole bunch of data from Google Analytics on how a new Adwords campaign has affected your traffic, without linking your Analytics and Adwords accounts together you can’t bring engagement data into Adwords, nor can you view your click and cost data in Analytics alongside your engagement data. Without doing this you’ll be missing all the juicy data I’ll be mentioning below.

Linking the two up is fairly straightforward, but does involve a bit of setting twiddling within both platforms. You will also need to make sure that you have the “Edit” level permission for the Analytics property and the Administrative access for the Google Adwords accounts for the linking process to be possible.

Tip #2 Use Google Analytics data to understand how your Google Adwords audiences are engaging with your website after clicking on an Adwords ad.

Once your Google Adwords and Analytics accounts are all linked up you are able to import the following data columns into your Google Adwords data views, from campaign to keyword level.

  • Bounce Rate
  • Pages / Session
  • Avg. session duration
  • % New Sessions

Whilst direct responses from Google Adwords are important (which we measure through Conversion tracking), these metrics can tell us whether people are actively engaging with your website after clicking through, giving us additional insight as to whether certain keywords and ads are worth using.

Below you find an explanation of each of these metrics.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate tells us the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only the entrance page. It is therefore a useful indicator of whether your Adwords traffic is pointing to a landing page that is turning people off and not enticing them to interact with you further, or that the Keyword is not directing the right kind of traffic to your business.

Pages / Session

Average pages per session is another metric that can be used to measure visitor quality. If they are viewing a higher number of pages per session then this indicates they are going deeper into the website and are showing a greater level of interest in your business than someone who just views 1 or 2 pages. To some extent this will be influenced by the organisational structure of your website and how easy it is to navigate. However, it is a good method of seeing which of your keywords are directing most interested parties.

Avg. session duration

If you are offering a more technical product, or something that requires a fair bit of explanation then using average session duration might be of more interest. It tells us (in seconds) how long people have stayed on the site for. If your Adwords activity is pointing to a landing page with a video on or even just a lot of copy to read through, you will be able to get an indication if people are spending the time to digest it all with this metric which can be useful.

% New Sessions

% New Sessions is generated by people who have never visited your site before. This is particularly interesting to view at a campaign level. Hopefully your Adwords campaigns are segmented to target people at different levels of the buying process, and we can see how successfully they are doing their jobs with this metric.

At one end there is your brand campaign, where we would expect a lower % of new sessions; if someone’s searching for you by your brand name they have already heard of you and are therefore more likely to have been on your site before. At the other end there are your research terms, where you are using keywords to target those at the beginning of their buying journey and might not yet know you offer the solution to their problem! Here you would expect the % of new sessions to be higher as this campaign is focused on driving new potential customers towards you.

Tip #3 Use Google Analytics to compare your Google Adwords traffic performance with other traffic sources

We often get asked for industry benchmarks from our customers to help them in determine whether their Adwords performance is positive or not. Whilst it is useful to compare against your competition, the first place you should be looking is within your Google Analytics account to see how it compares to your other traffic sources.

By other traffic sources, this generally includes:

  • Your direct traffic – those people who are inputting your website domain directly into their browser to visit you
  • Your organic traffic – those who are coming in from the natural search engine results
  • Your referral traffic – those who are coming in from other people’s websites
  • Your social traffic – those who are coming in from your social networking

Plus any other traffic sources that you might have set up – such as email marketing generated traffic and display advertising traffic.

Within the Acquisition > Overview view of Google Analytics, you can quickly get a comparison across the different sources of how they are performing across a number of Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversion metrics, and this allows you to create your own performance benchmarks specific to your website and business.

For example if you found your Adwords activity has a higher conversion rate than your other traffic sources, it suggests that Adwords is a really successful tool for generating conversions for your business. You might find some surprising data in there – you would expect those who are coming to your site directly to be further down the sales funnel and more likely to convert, however I have seen instances of paid search outperforming both the organic and direct traffic before. This just shows the power of paid search and the benefits of having control of the ad copy and where you direct the visitor – but that’s another blog for another time!

So go ahead, celebrate Google Analytics 10th birthday with us by getting your Google Analytics and Google Adwords accounts linked up and start to exploring a whole new level of data that you can use to better understand your Google Adwords performance!


Becky Hopkin

As MD Becky works to ensure Digital Gearbox’s values are being lived, and that our customers are receiving the best service possible. A self-confessed Disney fanatic, Becky loves spending down time with her golden Labrador, Nala, and her young daughter, Emily.

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