One of the most valuable reasons to run performance marketing – including paid search – is that it allows you to measure direct results. However, if your AdWords conversion tracking is not accurate, then you could be missing out on valuable information about your advertising efforts. Recently, AdWords conversion tracking has become even more important with the launch of Google’s position-based attribution model, which can provide insights into which higher-funnel clicks lead to conversions.

Google search page on an Android tablet

Don’t let inaccurate AdWords tracking waste your marketing dollars. Image via Pixabay.

While every site and every problem is different, below are a few steps to start the troubleshooting process for broken Google AdWords tags. More complex issues will require additional developer resources, but starting with these questions can help speed up the process.

One of the most common situations we try to solve is when the AdWords tag has been placed, but no conversions are registering in the platform. In these cases, the first question I always ask my advertisers is whether or not they are using a tag management platform like Google Tag Manager (GTM). Troubleshooting problems with a pixel that has been implemented via a platform like GTM is different than with one that has been coded directly onto a page.

Implemented in GTM

  • Has the workspace with the AdWords tag been pushed to production?
    • If the tag and trigger are still in draft, they will not be running on your live site.
  • Is the correct conversion ID and conversion label from your account in the tag configuration?
    • If these two strings are incorrect, the tag will not send data back to your account.
  • Is the tag attached to a trigger?
    • Without a trigger, GTM doesn’t know where to fire the tag.

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, test again after editing in GTM. Common problems we see are that either the tag is not attached to the correct trigger or the workspace has not been pushed live.

An easy way to check your work in GTM is to run a test in preview mode. Enter preview mode from your workspace, then click to your website and complete a conversion. If the AdWords tag does not show in the summary box at the bottom of your browser window when you hit the confirmation page, edit the trigger and try again.

Not Implemented in GTM

When troubleshooting pixels that have been coded into templates, I like to use the Google Tag Assistant extension in Chrome. This extension will check any Google tags, like Analytics, Remarketing or the AdWords conversion tag, and provide details when it sees broken or misplaced tags. You can also record the process of converting and refer to the detailed summary of pixel fires when you stop the recording.

The first step here is to run a test conversion.

  • Does Google Tag Assistant register the Google tag?
    • If not, check the confirmation page template to make sure that the pixel is on the correct template.
  • If Tag Assistant is showing a bright red frowning face, what is the problem?
    • GTA will provide details about the broken pixel, like whether a <noscript> tag is missing.
  • Copy the conversion code from the page source into a text comparison tool like diffchecker.com and compare to the original provided by your AdWords account. Does it match?
    • Look for major discrepancies – we’ve seen everything from the wrong type of quotes to missing the entire conversion label line. Variables like revenue and order ID should be different, but the rest of the code should be the same.

While the above steps may not solve all your AdWords tracking problems, ruling out these common issues can provide you with a starting point for speaking with your developer. If you’re running into AdWords tracking issues, make sure to try these steps first in order to fast-track the troubleshooting process.