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Common Google Ads Mistakes, Part 3: Google Ads Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking may not sound like a big deal, but it can have a huge effect on the decisions you make with your digital advertising – incorrect tracking is one of the costliest mistakes you can make. So this week, we’ll take a look at how to avoid mistakes with Google Ads Conversion Tracking.

Episode Transcript

What’s up everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast from Messenger – the show where we give you actionable tips and advice to help improve your practice marketing, grow your revenue, and take patient experience to the next level. I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be discussing conversion tracking mistakes in Google Ads. 

First off, we need to answer a question: what is Google Ads conversion tracking?

Well, when many advertisers get started, they’re tempted to focus on vanity metrics: how many impressions their ads got, or how many clicks they had to their website. 

And while these metrics are important to pay attention to, they don’t matter as much as some other metrics, because they don’t add to your bottom line.

One of those metrics is conversions. Conversions measure how many new leads your business gets from your advertising efforts. A new lead is a potential new customer, a potential source of additional revenue that might not have found your practice if it weren’t for your ads.

So, when advertising, it’s important to pay attention to conversions more so than clicks or impressions. You may not convert every lead into a customer, but more conversions equals more potential revenue.

So now that we know what conversions are, let’s look at the four most common mistakes people make with conversions.

Mistake #1: No Conversion Tracking

Our first mistake is not having conversion tracking on your website at all.

This is a huge mistake, because if you can’t measure how many new leads you’re getting from adversiting, you won’t know how effective your campaigns are.

When a visitor clicks on one of your ads, a small bit of code (called a “cookie”) is placed on their computer. If they end up taking a desired conversion action, such as filling out a form for more information, downloading a resource, or contacting your practice, this cookie sends information back to Google Ads that gives Google Ads the “credit” for this new lead. As a result, this registers as a conversion in your account.

This is how it’s supposed to work. But if you don’t have conversion tracking set up properly, you could be getting new leads, but Google Ads doesn’t know to whom they should give the credit. So when you look at your campaigns, you may see zeroes across the board. 

We’ve seen several practices who have cancelled their ad campaigns because they didn’t see any conversions they looked at Google Ads. This led them to believe that their advertising wasn’t effective, and that they were just wasting ad spend without seeing any results. 

What happened after they cancelled their campaigns? Rather than saving money, their revenue took a significant hit.

The problem wasn’t that their ad campaigns weren’t resulting in new leads – they were – the problem was that conversion tracking wasn’t set up properly. When they looked in their Google Ads dashboard, they saw a big fat zero, which caused them to panic.

In reality, however, their ads were effective…but their conversion tracking wasn’t set up properly. This is mistake #1, and it’s pretty easy to fix.

How to Fix It? Go into your Google Ads settings, where you’ll find Conversions under the “Measurement” tab. Here, you can add new conversions based on the actions you want users to take.

Once you add a new conversion and specify how it should be measured, you’ll be given a few bits of code to place on your website: one that should be placed on every page of your website, and another that should be placed on the page that registers a successful conversion – for instance, a “Thank You” page after a visitor has filled out a form.

Incorrect implementation could cost you real money, so we recommend sending this code to your web developer to install rather than trying to do it yourself.

So that’s a bit about incorrect conversion tracking.

Mistake #2: Not Regularly Checking Your Conversion Tracking

Assuming you have all of your conversions set up correctly, you’ll now see a list of all potential conversion actions a patient could take in Google Ads.

But over time, your website and marketing strategies may change: you may add new offers or come up with new ways for patients to become leads. You might even discontinue some services or conversion actions.

As a result, you may have some outdated (or even missing) conversion actions within Google Ads. Again, having incorrect information can cost you real money, so you want to make sure that all the numbers are accurate. 

How to Fix It? Regularly auditing your conversion tracking in Google Ads to make sure that all tags are firing and all conversions are being counted appropriately. 

We recommend doing this quick checks at least once a quarter, though you can do this more frequently if you have a constantly-changing site. It only takes 5 minutes to check that everything is functioning properly, but it can make a world of difference to your reporting and your bottom line revenue.

Mistake #3: Focusing on the Wrong Metrics

We alluded to this mistake earlier, but it’s important to be focusing on the correct metrics when you’re advertising your business. 

Yes, impressions are important for brand recognition, and they can help you get an idea of which terms patients are searching for. 

Yes, the more clicks you get, the more opportunities you have to convert visitors into real leads.

So I’m not trying to say that these metrics are unimportant – they do help you make decisions that can influence your results.

But too many marketers get laser-focused on these metrics when they should be focused on other, more important metrics. 

The reality is that 10,000 impressions won’t add a dime to your bottom line if nobody is actually clicking on your ads.

5,000 clicks doesn’t put any more money into your pocket than 500 clicks if nobody is actually converting. 

From the perspective of your marketing funnel, these metrics do matter. The larger your funnel, the more opportunities you’ll have to convert some of those people into leads.

But at the end of the day, it’s the conversions that matter more than the clicks or the impressions. Conversions are what put more money in your pocket, not the other stuff.

How to Fix It? While you should be paying attention to all of your metrics, resist the temptation to focus on vanity metrics alone. If your conversions aren’t increasing, you won’t be making any more money. Just be sure to put first things first.

Mistake #4: Conversions Mismatch between Google Ads and Google Analytics

So, by now you’ve added all of your conversions in Google Ads, and everything is running smoothly. You’re firing on all cylinders, and are getting new leads.

But going along with our previous theme of having the most accurate information possible, there’s one more thing you need to do: make sure all conversions are added in Google Analytics as well as Google Ads.

The reasoning behind this is that you want to have accurate information about your advertising and website use, no matter the platform. 

Adding all Google Ads conversions to Google Analytics lets you get an accurate view of how your PPC advertising fits into your website traffic as a whole, rather than having to go back and forth between platforms trying to reconcile the data. Not having everything in one place is a big mistake. 

How to fix it? Adding your conversions to Google Analytics is relatively simple. In Google Analytics, conversions are called “Goals” – while they use a different name, the concept is the same.

To add “Goals” to your Google Analytics account that match the conversions in your Google Ads account, go to Admin > View > Goals within Google Analytics. There, you’ll be able to add the URL of each destination page as a separate goal.

The added benefit of doing this is that you can see Goal completions from all traffic sources, not just conversions from Google Ads. If someone came to your website from Google Search, social media, or an email newsletter you sent, you’ll be able to see how they have interacted with your site.

With Google Ads conversion tracking alone, you can’t get this data, so make sure your Google Analytics Goals match your Google Ads conversions.


So, let’s recap what we’ve learned today:

  • Incorrect implementation of Google Ads conversions can lead to incorrect metrics and can cost you money. To make sure you have the most accurate data possible, make sure all of your conversions are added in Google Ads.
  • It’s important to regularly audit your conversions within Google Ads to make sure there aren’t any outdated or missing conversions that you should be tracking. This is a simple, 5-minute audit that we recommend performing at least once a quarter.
  • Remember to focus on the metrics that matter. Every metric is important in some way, but the crucial thing to remember is to put different metrics in perspective and focus on the ones that contribute to the bottom line.
  • Finally, make sure that your Goals in Google Analytics match your conversions in Google Ads. Doing so will give you accurate information everywhere, and can help you understand how people are using your site, regardless of where they come from.

Next Week…

That’s all for today’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast.

Next week, we’ll finish our series on common Google Ads mistakes by looking at the “post-click” website experience your patients have. As wonderful as PPC advertising is, it’s only part of the picture – if your website isn’t up to par, your advertising dollars probably aren’t being well spent. So next week, we’ll examine how to make the most of your advertising budget by focusing on your website. 

As always, we’ll have a link to the show notes in the description, and don’t forget to browse our website at – we’ve got tons of great resources on how to improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.

For Messenger, I’m Crawford Ifland – see you next week!

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