Google AdWords Conversion Tracking Guide

Sarah Wilsonby Sarah Wilson

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AdWords conversion tracking is a powerful tool.  It allows you to identify which ad clicks eventually lead to conversions.  AdWords allows you to set up conversion types to track a wide variety of on-line success events.  Below is a general guide (somewhat high-level) covering the setup, implementation, and results of AdWords conversion tracking.


Step 1: Identify the source of the conversion type you are looking to track.  There are four options (website, app, phone calls, and import).  For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on the website source only.  This is by far the most popular source, and it allows you to create a conversion type for any online success event available on your website.

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Step 2: Name the conversion type you are looking to track.  Consider a name that is descriptive, yet concise; something that will be recognizable and meaningful when you run reports.  For example, if you would like to track online purchases, a name such as “Purchase” would be sufficient.  If you are looking to track the submission of a contact form, perhaps “Contact Form Submission” would be appropriate.


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Step 3: Determine if you would like to assign a monetary ($) value to your conversion.  The three options for this setting are below.  For example, if you are tracking contact form submissions, perhaps each submission is worth $10 to you (1st option).  If you are tracking purchases, the value varies, and you would choose the 2nd option.  If you do not want to assign a monetary value at all to the conversion type, select the 3rd option.  Google explains conversion values in depth here:

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Step 4: Determine how you would like to count these conversions: Every or One.  Every means that you will count all conversions, regardless of how many conversions are generated from each unique click.  One means that you will count only the first conversion generated from each unique click.  Google provides simple examples in the screen shot below.  There are several circumstances appropriate for each option.  Google explains conversion counting in depth here.

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Step 5: Select the conversion window.  How many days do you want to track conversions from a unique click?  30 days is standard, but you can select between 7-90 days.  In this step, you can also select your view-through conversion window which sets how many days you track conversions from a unique ad impression.  You can learn more about view-through conversions here.

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Step 6: Select the category that corresponds most closely to the conversion you are setting up.  Similar to choosing a name for the conversion, consider the category that is most relevant to the conversion type and which will make sense for reporting purposes.


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Step 7: Do you want this conversion type to count conversions in the Conversions column in the AdWords account?  Typically, the answer here is yes.  This selection ensures that this conversion type will be counted in the popular Conversions column of your AdWords account.  If you do not select this option, this conversion type will only be visible in the All conversions column.  More information about the implications of this setting can be found here.

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After selecting all of the options for the conversion type you are setting up, the associated conversion tracking tag/script is generated and displayed.  The script will look something like this:

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This example is for a purchase type conversion where each conversion’s monetary value varies; the conversion value is dependent upon the $ value of the purchase.  In this instance, where the conversion value is dynamic, prior to adding the script to the appropriate page, the person implementing the script (often a web developer) needs to make one adjustment to the script.

The two instances of 0.00 in the script (highlighted in yellow) need to be replaced with the dynamic variable that represents an order’s total $ value upon check-out (format should not include the dollar sign, just the order value with 2 decimal places).  This will allow you to track the $ value of each conversion.  Google provides some examples of what this may look like here.  Keep in mind, this step is only necessary if you chose the “Each conversion has a different value” option in Step 3.

The conversion tracking script needs to be implemented on the website so that it “triggers” or “fires” whenever the success event you want to track takes place.  Most success events (i.e. purchases, form submissions, etc.) result in the generation of a “thank you” confirmation page.  When this is the case, the conversion tracking script needs to be implemented on this “thank you” page.   The script needs to be placed within the <body></body> tags of its respective thank you page.  Google’s guide for adding a conversion tracking script to your website is located here.


Conversion Results

Once conversion tracking is properly set up, conversions begin being tracked/counted in your AdWords account, in the Conversions column (refer to Step 7).  If you chose to assign a monetary $ value to your conversion type (refer to Step 3), the value will be tracked in the Total conv. value column.  The image below is an example of how conversion data is reported in the AdWords account.  This example shows the data at the campaign level.  Each metric highlighted in yellow incorporates conversion data (either conversion count or conversion value).  Conv. value/cost is a popular performance metric often referred to as return on ad spend (ROAS).

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Whether your website is used for eCommerce or lead generation purposes, Google AdWords conversion tracking is an important feature to utilize in order to help measure the performance of your campaigns.  Without the use of conversion tracking, it is quite difficult to gauge the effectiveness and/or profitability of your keywords, ad groups, campaigns, etc.  The features and details of conversion tracking mentioned in this post are somewhat general.  The capabilities of the tool are quite robust and impressive when fully utilized!

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