Google Conversion Tracking: Complete Guide to Conversion Tracking in AdWords


So you've got your AdWords campaign up and running, and your ads and keywords are starting to generate an impressive number of clicks. Great! But unless you've got conversion tracking installed, you won't be able to see how many of those clicks are actually resulting in sales.

Conversion tracking is a powerful tool in AdWords that lets you identify how well your ad campaign is generating leads, sales, downloads, email sign-ups, and other key actions for your business. The data recorded by conversion tracking allows you to identify which areas of your campaign are working and not working, so you can optimize your bids, ad text, and keywords accordingly.

Depending on your business, a conversion could be counted when a customer makes a purchase through your website, signs up for a newsletter, fills out an online survey or contact form, downloads an app or whitepaper, calls a phone number from a mobile phone, and so on. After you've identified what customer actions you want to track as conversions, it takes just a few simple and free steps to get conversion tracking up and running for your campaign.

RELATED: What Is a Good Conversion Rate?

AdWords Conversion Tracking: The Basic Setup

Setting up conversion tracking involves generating a bit of HTML code in AdWords that you paste into the webpage on your site that customers visit immediately after completing the conversion (such as an "Order Confirmation" or "Thanks for Your Email" page).

To get started, click on the Tools and Analysis tab in AdWords, and select Conversions from the drop-down menu, which brings up the All conversions page. Click on the Conversions tab, then click the +Conversion button to create your first conversion.

You'll be prompted to fill out a form that will help AdWords generate the appropriate HTML code for you to paste into your webpage.

Give the conversion a name, such as "Contact Form submissions" if you want to track how many times visitors fill out your site's Contact Us form.

Next, select the source of the conversion. Your choices are:

1) Webpage. (If you want customers to complete an action on your webpage, such as an online purchase, contact form submission, or page visit.)

2) Call on-site. (If you want customers to call the phone number on your site from a mobile device.)

3) App download. (If you want customers to download your app.)

New AdWords Conversion

Here's a more detailed walkthrough of each of the three conversion sources:

1) Webpage Conversions

Choose the most accurate conversion category from the drop-down menu: Purchase/Sale, Signup, Lead, View of a key page (i.e. the Contact Us page), or Other. (Click image to enlarge.)

conversion tracking settings guide

Select the Markup language. HTML is the standard choice, but check with your web developer if one of the other alternatives (CHTML, XHTML, WML) would be more appropriate – especially if you're running a mobile site.

Next, enter a value for the conversion. You can assign an amount manually, such as 10 if you're selling e-books for $10 each. If you're selling a lot of different products, you can also set up the conversion tracker to record shopping cart values that change dynamically on the site. (This feature is explained in more detail in the Advanced section below.)

Tracking indicator

Enabling the tracking indicator causes an unobtrusive message to appear on your site letting visitors know that their visits to your site are being tracked by Google. Displaying it is optional, and you can opt out of showing the message by selecting the "Don't add a notification to the code generated for my page" option. If you do select it (by default, the selection is "yes") you can replace the standard message with your own, and customize the message's appearance by changing the size (single line of text vs. two lines), page background color, and language.

No time to read this? Take it to-go! Download the pdf here. 

On the next page, you'll receive an HTML code that you'll need to paste into the page on your site that you want to track the conversion for, such as the "Thanks for Visiting" page. If someone else is responsible for making changes to your website, you can email them the code along with personalized instructions.

conversion tracking code

2) Call On-Site Conversions

If your website allows customers to call your business phone number directly from their smartphones, you can use conversion tracking to track the number of times a call is made. Go through similar steps above to generate your code, and then you'll have to manually insert "onclick" HTML tags into the code provided by Google.

An onclick tag for a simple text phone number looks like this:

Google onclick tags

Replace the phone number with your company's phone number, and the Call Now text with whatever text you'd like to use.

Onclick tags can also be used with buttons (again, replace the sample phone numbers with your own):

conversion tracking tags

And when your Call Now link is a custom GIF image (replaced "call_now_button.gif" with the name of your gif file, and replace the example phone numbers with your own):

onclick tag for gifs

3) App Conversions

AdWords is able to track downloads of Android app through the Google Play store, and, to a limited degree, iOS apps through the Apple App Store. (Click to enlarge.)

Conversion Tracking Mobile Apps

NOTE: iOS app tracking is not available for Google Search or Google Display Network campaigns -- only for the ads that are served in mobile apps through the Display Network.

To set up conversion tracking for an Android app, you will be asked for the app's "Package Name." To find it, go to the app's page in the Google Play store. Copy the URL. The package number is the information after the details?id= string, and before the &feature= string. For example, the text highlighted in yellow in the example URL below is the Package Name:

Cut and paste that text into the Package Name box. To test that it's working correctly, click on the "View in Android Market" link, and you should link through to the app's page on Google Play. If you get an error or page not found, you've entered it wrong.

There is no further code to copy or paste for this one.  Android app conversions should start tracking in about 24 hours.

Analyzing Your AdWords Conversion Data

You can see information about your conversions from the Campaigns tab at the ad group, ads, and keywords levels. Click the Columns tab, then Conversions, to customize which columns appear. (Click image to enlarge.)

conversion tracking in adwords

Some of the basic columns include:

Conv. (1-per-click): Counts each time you receive one or more conversions from a single ad-click. You can use this number to approximate the number of new customers you're getting.

Cost / conv. (1-per-click): Displays your cost (how much you spent on clicks) divided by your total conversions. This helps you measure your return on investment (ROI). Ideally, you should be spending less on clicks than you're earning on conversions.

Conv. rate (1-per-click): Shows the percentage of clicks that resulted in conversions. The higher the percentage, the more effectively the ads or keywords are performing.

View-through conv.: Measures the number of times a customer viewed, but did not click on, your ad and later went through with a conversion.

AdWords Conversion Tracking: Advanced Options

Tracking Conversions from website shopping cart

Tracking purchases whose values you don't set yourself manually involves taking the basic tracking code provided by AdWords and modifying it with additional code unique to your particular e-commerce platform, such as eBay or PayPal. Each site does things a little differently, so it's best to read specific help files for your e-commerce site. It's best not to attempt this unless you have a working knowledge of web programming and HTML.

When this is set up properly, any conversion value statistic, such as total conversion value and cost per click, will reflect the actual revenue of the products you've sold, as opposed to a static value.

Advanced Conversion Settings: View-Through Conversions & Search De-Duplication

Available through the Advanced Settings when you're setting up Website or Call On-Site conversions, the View-through conversion window option tracks when a person sees your ad but doesn't click it, then visits your site at a later time and completes a conversion – in other words, they might have been influenced by your ad to return and convert at a later time. You can set this to track for a specific amount of time in between the view and the conversion, from 1 to 30 days, or a custom amount.

Enabling Search de-duplication means that a single conversion won't be counted twice, both as a view-through conversion and a click-through conversion if, for example, a customer first sees a Display Network ad then clicks on a text ad before making the conversion. When this is enabled, the conversion will only be counted as a click-through conversion.

Setting Up the Conversion Optimizer

By default, your ad rotation setting is set to optimize for clicks, meaning that AdWords will serve the ads it feels are most likely to result in a click-through. If you're tracking conversions, you can change this setting to optimize for conversions, meaning that the ads deemed most likely to result in conversions will be served in the auction more frequently.

To change the setting, go to the Settings tab and scroll down to the Advanced settings section. Open the Ad delivery: Ad rotation, frequency capping drop-down menu, click Optimize for conversions, and click Save.

Back in the Conversions tab, you can click Settings and then Edit Settings to change the conversion bid metric, which tells the Conversion Optimizer whether to focus on 1-per-click conversions or many-per-click conversions.

Analyzing Conversion Data with Search Funnels

Once conversion tracking has been up and running for a couple of weeks, you can use the Search Funnels analytics to track detailed data about your conversions such as how much time elapsed between when customers clicked on your ad for the first time to when they completed the conversion, and how many times they saw your ad before converting.

Access Search Funnels by clicking Tools and Analysis, then Conversions, then clicking the Search Funnels link at the lower left of the Conversions window.

Analyzing this data can help you gain insights about how customers behave on your website, such as how much time elapsed between when they clicked on your ad for the first time to when they completed the conversion, and how many times they saw your ads before converting. (Click to enlarge.)

AdWords Search Funnels

AdWords Conversion Tracking Troubleshooting

Conversion columns aren't showing any data

It can take up to 24 hours for conversion data to start appearing in AdWords. If after 24 hours conversions still aren't showing up, it's possible that no customers have converted yet. One way to test this is by going through the motions of a conversion yourself by clicking on your ad when it appears, and doing whatever action is required to trigger the conversion on your site. If after another 24 hours your conversion isn't registering, double-check that the HTML code was installed correctly. You might have to install additional plug-ins or move the code to a different part of the page.

Data Isn't 100% Accurate

If customers don't have cookies enabled in their browser when they click on your ad and complete the conversion, Conversion Tracking won't work. Most people browse the web with cookies turned on, but if you choose to display the Tracking Indicator link on your website, visitors can opt out of conversion tracking by disabling the conversion tracker cookie.

NOTE: If you change any of a conversion's settings in AdWords, this alters its code and you'll have to paste the new code into the webpage.

Campaign Receives Many Clicks, But Few Conversions

Campaigns receiving many clicks and few conversions might represent a weak return on investment (ROI) if the ads cost more to run than the business is earning back through conversions. Examining Search Funnels data and reviewing ad text and keywords might help you understand why customers are failing to convert once they reach your website.

Is the landing page unappealing? Does the website make it difficult for customers to navigate through to the conversion page? Do the ads and keywords set up expectations about a product that the website does not deliver (for example, do your ads appear when a customer searches for "cheap handbags" but take them to a website that sells expensive designer handbags?). Try to put yourself in the customer's shoes to figure out why customers who click on your ads aren't going all the way.

Got more questions about AdWords conversion tracking? Leave them in the comments!

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Randall Magwood
Aug 13, 2013

Posts like these are the main reasons why this is my go-to site for learning about Google Adwords and how to optimize my campaigns. I dont do alot of testing with conversion tracking (never been a real "tester"), but you've shown why it's important and why i should do it. Thanks alot.

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 14, 2013

Awesome, thanks Randall!

Rob Burns
Aug 14, 2013

I am constantly surprised at how few people leverage conversion tracking even at its most basic level. The key to great Adwords campaigns and SEO is simply knowing which keywords convert customers and which don't. The intelligence you can gather from conversion tracking is just priceless - and it's also very easy to set up as you show here.

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 14, 2013

We're always amazed how many people don't bother to set up conversion tracking too!

Oct 23, 2014

I love how informative you are you actually explain it in "laimens" for those who are new and trying to understand hpw to analyze their findings. thank you ! :)

rosh edwardd
Dec 02, 2014

The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lot of great information which can be helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more contents...Great job, keep it up.. 

Idan Cohen
Aug 14, 2013

Great post Elisa, I've bookmarked it and will include it a must read learning material for my next PPC student.I'm having a weird problem with conversion tracking myself and maybe you can suggest a solution.My problem is that Adwords is counting about 20% more conversions than what actually happened and I have no idea how this can happen.Any ideas?Thanks again for the great post. 

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 14, 2013

According to Erin Sagin, one of our in-house reps, it’s likely that the conversion tracking code was placed on an incorrect page. Oftentimes, clients will place the same set of tracking code on multiple pages where they intend to track conversions. If they place it on one incorrect page, their conversion numbers will be off.Hope that helps!

Idan Cohen
Aug 20, 2013

Hi, thanks for checking it out.I thought of that possiblity myself but if they had put it on the landing page instead of the thank you page I'd see 100% conversion rate and that's not the case.I've also double checked the LP and the TP and the code is where it should be, still can't figure out why Adwords is counting 20% more conversions....

Aug 15, 2013

Thanks for this nice tutorial,here is really all you need for the Setup

Aug 15, 2013

Thank you for a tutorial.I have a question. When a visitor click on "Send Message" in my contact form, the event doesn't open a new web page. I suppose this is because the contact form is made in jQuery.I can manage in Google Analytics setting up a goal on "Event" but... how can I do it in Adwords?How can I track events from Adwords?

PPC Specialist
Aug 16, 2013

Although i know the basic about conversion tracking on web page, i never try 'call on site" conversion. These easy to follow guides are the reason why so many people are running sucesful PPC campaigns. 

Aug 19, 2013

Thanks for this very relevant post! I really wanted to learn bout this conversion tracking. A big help,thumbs up! : )

Sep 04, 2013

With Google now bringing over any goals from analytics into our Adwords accounts, do we still have to insert this tracking code?

Hamza Afridi
Nov 06, 2013

I've implemented a dynamic AdWords conversion tracking code on a clients website and it is working and shows me which keywords the transactions are coming from but when I dig deeper and try to figure out what the exact search term the customer entered was, it's blank, is this normal?I'm pretty sure that if I implement the Google Analytics eCommerce code and import it into AdWords I can get this data back but then there are other issues that come with that so I'd rather the AdWords conversion tracking works.Would appreciate some advice :)Hamza

Nov 23, 2013

What if a user doesnt convert right when they land on your page but comes back say a day later or a week after they have decided to convert. How is this tracked? Thanks for the useful post!

Andre Hospidales
Nov 25, 2013

Great post. Just wanted to mention the difference bewteen 1-per-click and many-per-click. 1-per-click counts all conversions by the same visitor as one single conversion. This means that conversions are counted if an ad click results in a conversion action anytime within 30 days of that ad click happening. But no matter how many times someone converts after that click, they will only be counted as one conversion here. If one user visited your site and downloaded a free chapter, bought an e-book, and then downloaded a bonus report, that would count as 3 many-per-click conversions, but only a single 1-per-click conversion. This means you might need to look at other metrics if you are looking to analyze each conversion as a separate action.

Richard J D'Souza
Jan 10, 2014

Thanks, I'll keep this in mind for when I do my PPC campaign.

Jan 15, 2014

Very helpful article, thanks

Betty Wilhelm
Mar 12, 2014

Great post Elisa. This would be a big help!

Mar 27, 2014

What is the situation looking like for Adwords tracking of *sales* conversions made on a mobile website from a mobile device?

Jun 10, 2014

I really like your step by step approach.  Has this information been updated since the latest Google Adwords release? For example, 1-per-click conversions are now known as Converted Clicks and many-per-click conversions are called Conversions.

Oct 21, 2015

Hi, I think your site might be having browser compatibility
issues. When I look at your website in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

Jul 14, 2014

can I track both leads and sales from the same click? because my visitors land on a lead capture page, followed by a sales page, thanks

Didik Wahyudi
Aug 25, 2014

Which one is better, using google adwords conversion code vs using google analytics event tracking ?So far, I use event tracking because technically its easier for me. Need your suggestionThank you very much. 

Oct 23, 2014

Should Adwords conversion tracking be used if there is a linked Google Analyitics account with Goals, or should the goals and conversions be imported to Adwords? What is the best practice? Use both, or just one....and which one?

Elisa Gabbert
Oct 23, 2014

John, I'd use both if you have the capability -- sometimes there are discrepancies in the data, so the more data points the better.

Elisa Gabbert
Oct 23, 2014

PS Here's some info on linking your AdWords and Analytics accounts together:

Oct 23, 2014

Elsa,We are currently doing both, however we are seeing some double counting issues in Adwords as we have the accounts linked and are also pulling in Analyitcs Conversions (goals) as well as using Adwords code on the success pages. The sometimes helpful Google reps recommended ditching the Adwords code on the success page and only relying on the Analytics data (along with filters and attribution modeling). Do you have any thoughts about this? 

Elisa Gabbert
Oct 23, 2014

Our expert Chris Panetta says that if you have the goal set up in both AdWords AND Analytics you might run into the double counting issue. Try taking your rep's advice and using just the Analytics one.

Tim Felmingham
Jan 23, 2015

Great article. One of the problems with AdWords conversion tracking if you are an affiliate marketer, is the conversion happens on somebody else's site so you can't put the AdWords conversion code on that site.

I figured out a way to do it so I can track off-site affiliate conversions in AdWords, and therefore optimise my AdWords campaigns for conversions, even though they don't take place on my site.

Feb 08, 2015

After a long time without ever tracking anything this is exactly what I was looking for and needed without any of the mumbo jumbo. I am pretty slow when it comes to this sort of thing so I need someone to spell it out for me and show me exactly how it should be done in what order. Thanks for the high value your are providing! Johnathon

Dec 01, 2015

Hi Tim. Great you worked out a method to track off-site affiliate conversions. Can you tell how you do that?
Thanks a lot

Richard J D'Souza
Apr 25, 2015

This is really useful presenting this information in stages.

Sep 13, 2015

Hi there,

I'm browsing the web since a few hours to find a solution to my question but without any success. Hope you guys could help me! My question deals with the analysis of Google Analytics goals imported into Adwords.

I would like to know if it is possible to sort Adwords Ad groups reporting table (or keywords reporting table) in order to see the performance of every single conversion goal imported? By default, the results for all the conversion goals are grouped so we can only see the sum of all the goals.

For example, let's say that we have 3 different goals imported into Adwords. By default we can see the sum of all the clicks generated by each conversion goals for specific ad groups (or keywords) but can we see the number of clicks we get from one single conversion goal for specific ad groups (or keywords)?

Thank you very much in advance!


Oct 06, 2015

I have setup goals in analytics for some conversions but the main conversions are in Adwords conversion tracking, how can I show that data in analytics?

Nov 06, 2015

Hello guys, I am trying to find a good solutions for tracking my conversions. I advertise affiliate offers so the conversion does not happen on my site so I need some kind of third party tracking system.

Jan 06, 2016

I'm running conversions for my website and I want to know if there are multiple clicks how can I pinpoint which keyword click led to the conversion

Feb 17, 2016

Posts like these are just for Search engine consumption, this post doesn't tell my anything new what Google also has on their help site. waste of time!

Mar 08, 2016

Can you set up your contact form on a website (which is a goal for example) to mail and track your google adword, so you can see which ad specifically links to a customer?

Aug 14, 2016

thank you for breaking it down so well.

Dan DiGnagi
Mar 22, 2017

Google updated this to a section called Attribution. You guys should update.

Dec 12, 2017

Very helpful article, thanks

Jan 17, 2018

Hi Erin Bell
Can you please tell me how to increase conversions in medium budget campaign.

Feb 06, 2018

Awesome Info about Convertion Tracking ... Learnt some useful info from "Conversion Tracking Troubleshooting" ...

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