Adwords Conversion Tracking – It’s Kind of a Big Deal…

By Nelson Hudspeth | Jan 30, 2013
More Articles by Nelson

Ahh AdWords… For some, it’s music to your ears. For others, it’s nails on a chalkboard. AdWords is an incredible tool that, if leveraged properly, can provide you with excellent conversion and revenue tracking data. While the interface and processes may seem daunting at first glance, have no fear… I’ve laid out a foolproof method to get started with conversion tracking below.

What is Conversion Tracking?

An AdWords conversion occurs when someone clicks on your ad and performs an action on your website that you see as having value. Setting up conversion tracking lets you keep an eye on important statistics such as cost-per-conversion and conversion rate, giving you a glimpse into how successful a specific campaign or ad group is. This conversion tracking will help you begin making informed decisions on how to best optimize your account.

A conversion can be anything you want to measure. It can be something as simple as a visitor requesting more information and submitting contact information, a prospective buyer downloading a case study, all the way up to a purchase of a good or service. What you choose is completely up to you, as long as it isn’t milk…

Milk Was a Bad Choice

How do I Get Started with Adwords Conversion Tracking?

Setting up conversion tracking in AdWords is easy. Below I will run through a simple way to set up conversion tracking in AdWords. Keep in mind that some sites may have a unique framework in place which could create coding challenges, however it will work for the majority of AdWords Accounts and websites. You can create up to 100 different conversion actions and set up unique monetary values for each. Here are the basics you’ll need:

  • A Website: Pretty obvious, this is where the code will go to track those sweet, sweet conversions
  • An AdWords Account: Ideally you already have one set up… If not: Google AdWords will get you started!

Step 1: Log into your account and click on the “Tools and Analysis” tab

Adwords Conversion Setup

Step 2: Click on “Conversions” within the “Tools and Analysis” tab.

Adwords Conversion Setup

Step 3: Clicking on “Conversions” in the step above brings us to where we manage all of our Google AdWords conversion codes. Click on the “+ Conversion” button to create a new conversion code.

Adwords Conversion Setup

Step 4: Select a name for your conversion code. Make sure to pick something that identifies what you are tracking (sign up, download, purchase, etc.), as generally you will have multiple codes tracking at once.

AdWords Conversion Setup

Step 5: This next section allows you to customize your code. First, select a category your conversion falls under (purchase/sale, lead, signup, other). Next, set the security level to either “HTTP” or “HTTPS” depending on what is currently used in your website’s URL and select your markup language (generally HTML). Next, comes the conversion value form field. This revenue metric has proven invaluable for demonstrating ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) for our clients. ROAS is determined by dividing revenue derived from the ad source by the cost of that ad source ((revenue/spend)*100), and is used as a KPI.

Adwords Conversion Setup

This revenue conversion data can be tracked in a few ways:

Static Variable Conversion Tracking

When you add a new conversion, going through the process I laid out above, you have the option to define a monetary value for each new conversion. If the value of the conversion doesn’t change, simply use the “Conversion Value” field, which accepts integer values. So if you’re selling t-shirts that are $25 a piece, you would enter ‘25’ into this field.

Dynamic Variable Conversion Tracking

In order to track dynamic values per conversion (such as a shopping cart total), you can implement a dynamic value in the conversion tracking code. To do this, you must implement code in your conversion page to overwrite the value of the google_conversion_value variable. Google has provided a best practices checklist for implementing this advanced revenue conversion tracking which can be found here.

futurama fry

Step 6: You’ve successfully created your first conversion tracking code! The final step, however, is one of the most important; placing the code in the proper location on your website. First, you need to decide who makes the changes to your website. You can either elect to make the changes yourself, which will provide you with the code snippet; or you can select the option that someone else makes the changes, in which case the code will be emailed to the webmaster or person of your choosing.


The code should go in between the <body></body> tags of the thank you page or confirmation page that comes right after the conversion you’re tracking (checkout, form, info, etc.). This page should be the only place where the code is placed. The only exception is if you are tracking multiple conversions with the same code, in which case you would need to have this code on the respective confirmation/thank you page for each. Remember, the AdWords Conversion Tracking code needs to be installed between the <body></body> tags of the page.

Now that you have everything set up and the code properly installed, you will see it in the “conversion” column of your AdWords dashboard. Be sure to do a few test conversions yourself to make sure everything is tracking properly. This conversion metric will help you get a better feel for how your campaign is performing, especially if you added revenue tracking (static or dynamic) as mentioned earlier. All that’s left to do is congratulate yourself on the job well done and go conversion crazy!

Rock Applause

Do you have any questions about AdWords Conversion Tracking, or any success stories you’d like to share? Discuss them in the comments below, or find me on Twitter @Nhudspeth4

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