Google Analytics is a brilliant tool. It’s only as good as the data you pass back to it though.
AdWords and Bing Ads make it easy to auto tag your PPC traffic for analytics, but you need to put a lot of effort into making sure that all your traffic sources are tagged correctly. See https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en for an intro to tagging your traffic correctly.
But even if all your traffic is tagged perfectly, it is not guaranteed that your web site will not destroy these tags in some situations e.g. 301 and 302 redirects.
I had seen this happen with a Magento site which had an SEO plugin which when implemented, appeared to reduce conversions from Google Shopping traffic in Analytics to zero (though it took a while to work out what was happening as it only affected Shopping campaigns and not other AdWords campaigns, because 301 redirects were only happening on product pages and not category pages).
So, what exactly is the situation with redirects? What *will* and what *will not* mess up your tracking on your web site?
I got a very helpful reply from Google AdWords support which I have pasted almost verbatim below. Short summary is that redirects generally will mess up your tracking. :-
Whether a redirect is “destroying” the parameter used to tag a URL, depends on how you implemented the redirect. e.g. https://www.ppcni.com/blog?gclid=test123 does not provide Analytics with the parameters required to track your URLs. So – yes, your 301 redirect will destroy the tagging for Analytics.
However, there is a solution to this problem
It’s best to use the Chrome Developer Tools to help you troubleshoot.
Turn on Record in the Chrome Developer Tools (black circle on the bottom bar in the Network tab). Enter the original destination URL with the test parameter appended into the address bar. Press Enter to load the URL.
Under the Networks tab and Headers pane on the right, click some of the first requests listed–they will generally not be type-specific requests (no image or code file extensions).
Inside the request, look for an HTTP status code of 301 or 302.
Under the Response Headers section, look for the Location value, which indicates where the browser has been redirected. (Note that redirects can consist of multiple legs, so you might have to check several page HTTP requests to find out where the parameter is lost).
If the new URL doesn’t have the parameter and the value you specified earlier, then it’s likely that Google Analytics has not been able to store the parameter value.
In some cases, you might not see parameter in the final landing page URL but the Analytics code from the previous page might still have sent it in the redirect process (this usually happens too quickly to observe by eye). To check if the parameter was sent by the Analytics code on a previous page, look at the collect request made by the page. Use the filter icon to help sort or search for collect requests. (In your case: it did not send this request).
In Chrome Developer Tools, under the Networks tab, click on the collect request in the left pane (if it’s there).
In the Headers pane on the right, under the Query String Parameters section, look for the dl parameter in the collect request.
You should see your parameter. If you don’t see this value, then the parameter was not successfully parsed and stored by Google Analytics.
To resolve an issue where the Google Analytics tagging parameter is being removed by a redirect, and if the redirect is caused by a server-side rule, and you can’t stop the redirect, configure your server to allow redirects to carry query parameters from the initial URL to the final URL.
For example, the URL with your tagging is: www.example.com/redirecting-page?gclid=TeSter-123, when the redirect occurs it should forward the user to www.example.com/new-url?gclid=TeSter-123 (note here that the gclid parameter remains the same, although the page URL changes).
*NB – none of this affects AdWords conversion tracking *unless* you are importing goals/transactions from Google Analytics as conversions into AdWords.
It’ll be interesting to see how AOL performs compared to Yahoo, Bing and Google though it’ll be a long time before you can be sure if you are in the UK as their market share is so tiny. Bing reckon you should be able to increase Bing Ads clicks by around 5% by including AOL in your search network campaigns. Though it’s not clear if they are talking about worldwide or just USA when they say this (Bing tend to think the world revolves around the USA more than Google)…
You don’t need to make any changes to existing campaigns / ad groups for them to start showing on AOL. In fact there doesn’t seem to be any way of stopping them from showing on AOL!
Also, this doesn’t apply to the Republic of Ireland.read more
This is still in the early stages, but I’ll be adding to this spreadsheet a lot in the future (and hopefully other people will as well) :-
Anyone can add their own stuff / amend / publish / sell / profit from this spreadsheet which is totally in the public domain etc.
I’ve added comments at the top of each column for reference.
There are negative locations thrown in as well if you want to exclude most countries in the world form seeing your ads.
If you find it helpful, please share it.read more
See the following ink for the full article :-read more
There’s plenty of information online about how SSDs are soooo much faster than old fashioned HDDs.
Windows 7 boots *much* more quickly, and applications open a lot faster.
And now that you can get a 256GB SSD for around £100, there is no excuse not to get one.
But this being a PPC blog, I have to mention that it also makes a difference to the speed of AdWords Editor.
In my (not very scientific) test, I increased the bids on 73,682 keywords by 10%. Here are the results (approximately as I had to click the ‘Apply Changes’ button in the middle of the operation, and I was using the second hand on my wrist watch) :-
HDD – 20 seconds
SSD – 12 seconds
This isn’t an operation you are going to perform every day on every AdWords account you manage, but it still goes to show what a great investment an SSD is if you manage PPC accounts and your budget won’t stretch to a brand new PC/Mac.
(SSD = Solid State Drive) (I was guilty of using the term for years without being 100% sure what it stood for).read more
First, a big thank you to Certified Knowledge for their original article here :-
If you have a lot of accounts to check, please consider paying for their membership / automated tool (and read their article anyway for info about 404 errors).
But if you are skint, don’t have a huge number of accounts, and don’t have Microsoft Excel – here is an alternative method to check all your ads to make sure none are broken…
Download the excellent and free Xenu.
Download (the also excellent and free) OpenOffice.
Open your account in AdWords Editor.
Go to your ads tab.
Highlight all active ads.
Paste into a new spreadsheet in Open Office.
Highlight the destination URL column.
Click on Data, Filter, Standard Filter, change Field Name to ‘ – none – ‘, More Options, tick the ‘No Duplication’ box.
Highlight all the URLs in that column.
Open a text editor (like notepad).
Save as whatever.txt.
Click on Options, Preferences, and set Maximum depth to 0, OK, File, Check URL List, and open the file you saved from your text editor.
Wait a while.
Pause any ads that have non working URLs.
NB – I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that Google should do this themselves as a matter of course (and inform the advertiser that things need fixing), after all they are always banging on about how important user experience is etc…
PS – While on the subject of avoiding paying for clicks that do not come through to a functioning page, if you have an unreliable web hosting service, and your site is likely to be down for longer than a minute or 2 once in a blue moon, and you spend more than a few pounds a day on PPC then it’s worth checking out https://www.pingdom.com/. Which can alert you and allow you to pause your campaigns until your web site comes back up again. PPC Hero also have an interesting tool which will automate this process for you (though I haven’t tried it). Here is the link – http://pro.ppchero.com/tools/ad-guardian.read more