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At a recent speaking engagement on analytics, I was asked some questions on what appears to be discrepancies between search marketing platforms (such as Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing) and the data in the Google Analytics. I didn’t get a chance to answer these questions in details but here are some pointers on where to start your investigation!

In Adwords, ensure that your “auto-tagging” feature is enabled under account preferences.

Ensure proper URL tagging for all your PPC traffic. A useful tool to help you set up your URL tags is the Google URL builder. For tips on tagging Yahoo Search Marketing campaigns and MSN adCenter PPC campaign, check our earlier post.

Another area where problems may occur is URL redirects. Check our earlier post on this subject for more details.
So assuming you have turned on auto-tagging or your URLs are manually tagged, you will still see a discrepancy but don’t panic! Some Google Analytics help posts come to the rescue and explain why your “click” and “visit” numbers won’t match :(.
http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57164
http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=55610&ctx=sibling
http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=63917&ctx=sibling

Click on the the following thumbnail to view the full screenshot. It shows Adwords clicks and Google Analytics visits.
Adwords clicks vs GA visits

Now you have something to go back to your customer with (if you are a consultant) or to your boss (if you are an in-house analyst) and let them that the culprit wasn’t you. It isn’t Adwords, it isn’t Google Analytics, it is just how things are when looking at data from two different systems. Instead, we want to examine trends and not just absolute numbers (easier said than done 🙂 ).

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