Linking AdWords & Analytics: a Troubleshooting Guide

By /

August 18, 2008

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At our Google Analytics training in Washington DC last week, one of the most burning questions we got asked was, “Why can’t I see my AdWords data in my Google Analytics?” And even though we’ve blogged about this problem before (here), we wanted to provide a step-by-step troubleshooting guide, complete with how-to’s and screenshots.

So – let’s start from the beginning! Log into your Analyltics account directly from (rather than just tabbing over to Analytics from your AdWords account). Go to Traffic Sources / AdWords / Adwords Campaigns. If you see data there, but simply cannot access it from your AdWords screen, that is a separate problem (see steps #4 and #5 on this Google help page). However, if you see zeroes there (as in the thumbnail to the left which you can click to enlarge), follow the steps below:

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Step #1: Checking Your Auto-Tagging

When your AdWords aren’t talking to your analytics, the first thing we suspect is that your Auto-Tagging may not be turned on.

To check this, log into your AdWords account from, click on the “My Account” tab, and click on “Account Preferences”. Under “Tracking”, you will see either “Auto-Tagging: Yes” or “Auto-Tagging: No”.

If you see “Auto-Tagging: No”, you’ve likely found your problem. Click on “Edit” and change it to yes. (Remember that once you do this, you’ll be collecting AdWords data going forward — you can’t recover data retroactively — so wait six to eight hours before you log into your Analytics account and look for your AdWords data.)

If your auto-tagging was already turned on, keep going on to Step #2 to find your problem!

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Step #2: Make Sure Your Landing Pages Are Tagged

Now, you’re going to check whether you have Google Analytics code on the landing pages you’re sending traffic to. So go to one of your landing pages, and click on “View” / “Page Source”. (If you’re not entirely sure what landing pages your ads are going to, you can go to an ad group in your AdWords account, and just click on the blue underlined title in the Ad Variations tab all the way to the right — that will take you straight to your landing pages without incurring any click charges.)

After you select “View” / “Page Source”, you should see a bunch of HTML with a chunk of javascript like in the screenshot to the left. However, if you find that your landing pages aren’t tagged (since it’s easy to forget to add GA code if you have dedicated landing pages!), you’ve found your problem. On the other hand, if your landing pages are all properly tagged, continue on to Step #3.

(**Side note: If going to “View Source” and then hunting in the code for your GA code is not your cup of tea, never fear. Stephane Hamel has created a wonderful plug-in for just this purpose and it’s well worth the download!)

Step #3: Make Sure Your AdWords are Linked to the Right Analytics Account

We’ve seen cases where your AdWords actually are talking to your Analytics — but they’re linked to the wrong account. To check whether this is your problem, you’ll need to do a bit of work.

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First, you’ll need to log into you Google Analytics account from the screen. Under “Settings”, click on “Edit” next to your main profile (you need to have admin access to your Analytics in order to do this). On the next screen, you’ll see a piece of javascript code in the center of the page — write down the GA account number you see there. (It comes after the letters UA. Like this: UA-12345676-1.) Now, do the exact same thing, only get the UA number from the Analytics tab of your AdWords account (log in from

Do the two numbers you wrote down match? If they don’t, you’ve found your problem. (And if this is the case, you’ll need to get in touch with Google to have them unlink the “wrong” account — you can’t do this part on your own!) Then, you just have to link up the right account, and you’re in business! (See this Google help page for instructions.)

If that’s not your problem, keep going — right onto Step #4.

Step #4: See If You’ve Got a “gclid” Problem

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If you still haven’t solved your problem, you’ve most likely got a gclid problem. (And what the heck is a gclid, you ask? Actually, it’s just the tracking code that passes information from your AdWords to your analytics. [The term gclid actually stands for Google Click ID — thanks to Jesse for clueing me in to the origin of the word!])

To diagnose this problem, go ahead and click on one of your ads in the paid search results, and then look up in the URL. Do you see the letters “gclid” followed by a series of letters and numbers? If not, you’ve identified the problem at last!

Usually, this happens when the destination URL of your AdWords traffic is being automatically redirected to another page. To correct this problem, fix the destination URLs in your AdWords account so that each ad is going directly to the right landing page. Or, just have the server redirection retain the gclid parameter in the URL of the page the traffic gets redirected to. (You may need to find yourself a good Google Analytics geek to help with this last part!)

Best of luck, and happy linking!

-Traci Scharf


  • Daniel Waisberg

    Thanks Traci,

    very comprehensive post. I have lots of PPC people in my company and they keep on coming to ask “why the hell is my Adwords numbers different from GA number?” And I have to stop analyzing some interesting numbers to start doing this boring check up.

    Up till now I have used/referred to Google’s official answer. But as usual, Lunametrics’ ansers are better than theirs 😉 Will start using this post…

  • Daniel Waisberg

    “Or, just have the server redirection retain the gclid parameter in the URL of the page the traffic gets redirected to. (You may need to find yourself a good Google Analytics geek to help with this last part!)”

    Can you give any references to where can I find more information about that besides asking John Henson? :-)

  • Jonathan

    Hi Daniel —

    John’s out of the office, so I’ll take this one for him. The answer, like so many other potentially unsatisfactory answers, is “it depends.” What you need to do really depends on what kind of web server and architecture you’re using to accomplish server-side redirects.

    The basic approach, no matter what tools you’re using, is to redirect the URL while retaining the gclid parameter (and you’ll also want to do the same for campaign tracking parameters you use for other campaigns like email — utm_source, utm_medium, and so on). All the common redirect tools use regular expressions so that you can match and pull out just the parts that you need.

    Here’s a quick list of documentation for some of the most common server-side URL rewriting tools.

    If your web server is Apache, chances are you’re using the mod_rewrite engine:

    On IIS, you might be using the ISAPI_rewrite engine: Or, you might be using a self-built scripting solution, such as this one for ASP.NET:

    So the trick is, first know how your server-side URL rewriting works. Then see what you can do about altering the regular expression matching that goes into the URL rewrites to preserve the parameters you’re interested in saving.

  • Traci

    Daniel —

    Yes , that’s exactly how this post was intended. Make the troubleshooting process as easy as putting together an IKEA table (step one — take table top out of box; step two — attach legs to table top), and everyone benefits!

  • Jesse

    Great post!

    (gCLID stands for “Google CLick ID”)

  • Traci

    Jesse –

    Thanks for clueing me in on that! I added that piece of info to the post . . . .

  • Dave

    This is great but I have a different problem, I cant actually get into analytics from adwords. I can log into analytics directly ok using the account credentials and see reports, using the same login details takes me into adwords ok too so its def the same account. When I click the analytics tab from adwords i get this:

    Analytics already exists for the Adwords Account. Please contact the Adwords Account Administrator to gain access to Analytics.

    I have found no way to solve this anywhere, can anyone help.

    p.s. Ive tried all the steps in this post and they are all showing ok.

  • Bhagawat

    Thanks a lot Traci Scharf.

  • Tips and Reasons

    A lot of users get an error message if auto tagging is enabled. Therefore, I believe the first point you mention is really vital.

    Good tips!

  • Varun

    Thanks for the guide but i cannot see adsense income linked to a adwords campaign

    is it possible ?

  • Clement

    Great post.
    I have been looking for a similar troubleshooting for quite long time.
    I have found the problem and it seems to be solved now.

  • Wesley Naves

    Hi, great post.. but let me ask..

    i followed all the steps and have the gclid and code on my url link.. but still dont appear adwords data on my analytics.. any tips?


  • Peter

    Fantastic troubleshooting process you have created here. You have saved me from a weekend of tearing out my hair with a particular account. Thank you !

  • Ingo

    Thanks for this great guide! I had a tracking problem and just couldn’t figure out why the AdWords data didn’t show up. Looks like the Auto-Tagging setting was the issue. Thanks Traci you saved my day!!!

  • Atea

    The linkage starts with adding the website profile in Google Adwords under “Reports” –> “Add website Profile”.

    Thanks for the troubleshooting info though!

  • Moreira

    The first time I tryed to link an adwords account to analytics it was hell on earth.
    Now I do it quite easily, but it took a lot of trial and error…
    So I think your article is quite valuable.

    PS: gclid = google click id! That has been hauting me for so long…Thanks


  • Asigurari casco

    A big secret was finally reveled. Thank you for this complete explanation. I was lost in analytics – adwords settings before reading this article. Thanks again.

  • Vanzari auto rulate

    Thanks for this guide! I had a tracking problem and just couldn’t understand how to solve it. (even with google help).

  • Art Youkers

    Superb post! It would be cool of there was a way to have a logon script that just parsed Active Directory..

  • Garden Deco

    Thank you so much for the explanation. I was lost in G analytics before reading this article.

  • Jo

    I went through all of the steps–great help—until I got to the #3 and discovered that my UA numbers were different. Next advice is “And if this is the case, you’ll need to get in touch with Google to have them unlink the “wrong” account — you can’t do this part on your own!)”…but I cant find anyone to help me! Any advice on how to get that help?

    • Webmaster

      Talk to your google adWords rep (really)

  • Saidul Hassan

    @Jo & @Webmaster: #3 >> To unlink analytics and AdWords, all you need is admin access to both analytics and AdWords account. It wasn’t possible when this article was originally posted but it’s there now:

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  • bonet

    does it become problem? if email of google analytic account and adwords is different?

    If i have already link an analytics profile w/ an adwords account and later i change it with the new adwords account, is it possible? how to change it?


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  • Jonathan

    If you link your AdSense and Analytics accounts (, you’ll get an AdSense Revenue tab in many of the reports in Google Analytics, including the Campaigns report.

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