Troubleshooting AdWords Conversion Tracking For Non-Techies


Does this scenario resonate with you?

You’re about to launch a PPC campaign, and you’ve ensured everything on your end is streamlined and ready to go. You publish your campaigns and wait in suspense to see how many conversions are rolling in… only to hear crickets chirping.

You did everything you were supposed to on your end, including giving the web developer the AdWords tracking code for conversions to install. Suddenly, it hits you — it wasn’t anything you did. The conversion code wasn’t installed correctly.

You shake your head. Who is supposed to be the tech person in this relationship?

Unfortunately, sometimes the IT folks or web developers don’t take the time to understand proper implementation of the AdWords conversion code, and this is where you can step in to troubleshoot and fix the problem fast.

In this post, I’ll outline tips you can keep on hand to diagnose the no-conversions problem next time it arises — even if you’re a non-techie PPC professional.

4 Common Problems With AdWords Conversion Tracking

There are several possible reasons why conversions aren’t showing up after a PPC campaign goes live. Some of the common problems we see with implementation are actually quite simple to fix:

  1. The code is placed on the correct page, but is not copied exactly as it should be.
  2. The code is not actually placed on the page. (They thought they did it, but alas, it’s not there.)
  3. Additional JavaScript code has been added via the CMS or application delivery infrastructure, which changed the AdWords code. (We recently had a client who installed a page speed plugin that somehow integrated with the AdWords conversion code.)
  4. The code is for remarketing, not conversions. (The AdWords remarketing and conversion codes look very similar.)

Troubleshooting Guide: 4 Steps To Solve The No-Conversions Issue

First things first: If you are seeing conversions within 24 hours, there shouldn’t be a problem with tracking. We usually spot-check with the client, however, and ask if they are seeing some of the same activity we are in terms of conversions or sales, just to be sure.

However, knowing how to assess the situation if you’re not seeing conversions is crucial. If you find yourself in a bind, here are four steps you can take to research the problem.

1. Test The PPC Conversion Yourself

Do a test the old-fashioned way and act as a customer. Find the ad in search, click on the ad, and follow through with the conversion.

If it’s a product you or your client sells, consider how to handle a test purchase — maybe you want to use a discount code that puts the product at $0.

For other types of conversions, you can filter out your tests from the data by searching for the ad with a specific query, like the keyword you’re targeting plus your name.

For example, I’d trigger the ad from search by searching for “keyword + Pauline.” This will record that conversion with that keyword.

2. Use A Diagnostic Tool

I love the handy Tag Assistant tool. It’s a Google Chrome extension that validates the implementation of Google tracking on any Web page. You can download it from the Chrome Web store here.

The extension works by color-coding the status of the implementation. From the support page, here’s an explanation:

  • A grey icon with an ‘x’ indicates that no code was found on the page
  • A green indicator will show if a valid tag was found. The number in the icon indicates the number of tags that were found
  • A blue indicator will show there are suggestions on improving overall tagging health
  • A yellow indicator will show that a tag was found with minor implementation issues
  • A red indicator will show that a tag was found with critical implementation issues

Sometimes, the code will be implemented just fine, but the Tag Assistant may suggest a few nit-picky things that might make it even better. Here’s an example of what you might see if your code falls into the “blue” category (which is comprised of suggestions on improving overall code health):


Getting to “green” is the goal, but you can assess it on a case-by-case basis. In the example above, one thing we didn’t do was set the conversion value, and the extension is alerting us of that.

Here’s a video overview of the extension for more info:

3. Confirm The Code Has Been Set Up Accurately

In order for the tracking code to work, you first need to ensure that the client has some sort of “thank you” page that renders after a conversion, whether it’s a product purchase, a sign-up form, or something else.

Look at the Web page to see if the code has been placed in the right spot between the opening and closing body tags (<body> and </body>) on the page. Then, confirm with the developer that he or she sees it set up properly, too.

AdWords gives a step-by-step guide on how to set the code up, and you can always share this document with anyone who needs to better understand implementation.

From that help file is an example of where to place the code. I’ve taken a screenshot and highlighted the body tags here:


4. View Source Code > Copy, Paste

If something is still wrong and you’re not sure what it is, you can go the Web page itself and right click to view the source code, as illustrated here:


Identify the conversion tracking code on the HTML side, copy it and paste into a document. Then, go to your AdWords account, copy the original tracking code and paste it into the same doc.

Next, start comparing. Are they identical? Something as small as a misplaced forward slash (/) can break the code, causing it not to work. After identifying any discrepancies, you can highlight the problem area and send to the developer.

These four steps are usually enough to identify the problem. If all else fails, check out this thorough troubleshooting guide from AdWords, which covers everything from confirming and verifying the code to troubleshooting the code snippet and debugging it.

Do you have any tips to ensure the tracking gets implemented smoothly? Share with us in the comments if so.

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