How Google AdWords Tracks Website Conversions

March 30, 2024

Book in a free 30 minute strategy session

When it comes to online marketing, there a few services that can give you such a sizable advertising edge as AdWords can. And even if most businesses have an active AdWords account for their paid marketing efforts, it’s effortless to find examples of advertisers not using it at its full potential.


You might find the following scenario all too familiar.

You are currently running a Google Ads campaign, and so far you’re pretty satisfied with the results. You’ve picked the right keywords and are getting a decent number of leads at an adequate cost per click. Hurray! But if you’re only looking at the number of people who’ve clicked on your ad, then you’re missing the big picture.

Be honest: are you also tracking your AdWords conversions? It’s one of the best ways to see if the people who’ve ended up on your landing pages take any action and convert into buyers or bounce back immediately. The number of clicks your ads get is only an indication of their performance, but it doesn’t tell you if you’ve also made the sale, got a sign-up, or whatever else your goal is.

Here’s how conversion tracking can benefit your marketing endeavour:

  • See the keywords, ads, ad groups, or campaigns that generate a high number of qualified leads;
  • Understand your ROI (return on investment);
  • Make better-informed decisions about how you spend your advertising funds;
  • Use Smart Bidding strategies to optimize your campaigns;
  • View cross-device and cross-browser data of your users.

It all sounds pretty great, right? Don’t worry; this article will give you a quick guide regarding tracking website conversions, so you can finally get the complete picture of your marketing campaign.

Before You Begin

Google ads

Here’s what you need to check before you start tracking conversions:

  • Enable the auto-tagging feature on all your Google Ads accounts. Without it, you won’t be able to track or measure conversions. No to mention, it’s a lot more comprehensive than manual tagging;
  • If you are currently using a click-tracker in your landing page’ URL make sure it passes on the Google click identifier parameter;

You can watch this Google video for a quick tutorial on how to implement different tags.


How Conversion Tracking Works

The conversion tracking process begins the moment you create a conversion action in your Google Ads account, meaning you can set up which potential customer activity you want to monitor closely:

  • Phone Calls – calls made directly from the ad, calls made to a phone number on your website, or clicks on your number from a mobile device;
  • Websites actions – such as purchases, sign-ups, and other;
  • Application installs or in-app activity;
  • Import – when a user’s activity begins online but then proceeds offline (for instance when someone signs up for an event online and then shows up in real life);
  • Other local actions – these account for activities with ads specific to a geographical location.

While there are differences in how the conversion tracking can take information from these sources, some common points do exist. Once you add the conversion tag to your website, users will get a cookie on their computer or mobile device when they click on your ad.

Then, when the users complete a type of action you are tracking, Google will reorganize the cookie with the help of the conversion tag and record a conversion. You have access to all the data on your conversions, whether you’re interested in a single ad, an ad group, or an entire campaign.

However, not all conversions require a tag. You can track phone calls for a call-only ad or call extension if you use a Google forwarding number. That way you can follow when the call came from your ads, as well as other information, such as the length of the call, exact date and time, or caller area.

Tracking Your Website

google ads analytics

There are three ways Google lets you track website conversions:

  1. Conversion Tracking Tag

The Google conversion tracking tag allows you to measure all your conversions no matter what browser your users prefer. There are two main components to this tag: the global site tag, and the event snippet.

  • Global site tagYou must install the global site tag on every page of your website. Moreover, you also need to install an event snippet on some of your pages depending on what kind of conversions you want to track. The snippets will work together with the global site tag to track your conversions.
  • Event SnippetFor the tracking process to work, you’ll need to add an event snippet. It is a short piece of code you place in your page’s HTML. With it, you can track user activity on a page, such as sign-ups or purchases. Place it within the head section of the code for best results.
  • Phone SnippetIf you have a page with a phone number, you can track the number of times users have clicked on it to make a phone call. It requires a tag similar to the event snippet, though the ‘phone snippet’ is more accurate in tracking phone call conversions.


  1. Google Tag Manager


With Google Tag Manager, you can easily update your tracking codes on your website or mobile app. With it, you can skip the hassle of quickly learning the basics of HTML to add the conversion tracking tag and snippets into your website’s code.


Here are the necessary steps you need to take:

google ads tips

  • Install the Google Tag Manager;
  • Open the container and choose ‘Add New Tag’;
  • Access ‘Tag Configuration’ and select ‘Conversion Linker’;
  • Choose a tag type. You should either pick one that applies to all the pages of your site, or some specific ones where user actions might take place.
  1. Google Analytics

By now, you should know that Google Analytics represents the best way to track activity on your site. But, did you know it also can collect data on your AdWords conversions?

If you don’t have the tag installed yet, you can use the Tag Manager to do it easily, or add the code directly to your website’s HTML code. Then you can access data on your ads conversion, just like you would for website bounce rate or monthly visitors.


A Small Disclaimer

As you might have already noticed, the three tracking methods described here are closely linked. While you can use one without the other, which could limit the quality of the data you collect.

Google created this complex ecosystem to help advertisers, but most of the features it provides work best if you let them interact with each other. They’re not specifically designed to fail on their own; they’ll only get part of the job done.

For instance, let’s say you skip the conversion tracking tag and the Tag Manager and stick with Google Analytics. You’ll still get plenty of data on your ads to measure their success and activity on your website, and track sales, but some things might not be adequately measured. Like when a single user clicks on your ad from a mobile device, then switches to a desktop where they have a different browser.

The conversion tracking tag keeps tabs on users who switch between browsers and devices, while Google Analytics doesn’t. So a combination of all three methods is the best solution.

Still not sure how to track your AdWords website conversions? That’s okay, Australian Internet Advertising can help with that, so give us a call today!


Billy P.

About The Author

William Polson founded Australian Internet Advertising in 2013 and has over 12 years of experience immersed in Digital Marketing.

With an in-depth level of digital marketing knowledge, William has been sort after by and worked for, many large national brands including Subaru, Blooms The Chemist, and Nova 96.9.

Book in a free 30 minute strategy session
Google Reviews Icon