Explained: Auto-tagging

Person typing on laptop on wooden table

All of the data collection and analysis that we talked about in the previous sections of this chapter wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for auto-tagging.

When you first sign up for AdWords, auto-tagging is switched off by default, yet when you link AdWords and Analytics, it will automatically set to add auto-tags to your URLs. This merely means that every click on your ads is being tagged with a unique identifier so that the information can be transferred through to Analytics.

How to check if auto-tagging is switched on?

  1. Sign into AdWords.
  2. Click on the gear icon and select Account Settings.
  3. Go to Preferences and clickEdit under the Tracking section.
  4. Destination URL Auto-tagging checkbox should be ticked.
Screenshot of enabling auto tagging in AdWords account

Let’s Get Technical

Alright, Sherlock. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for us to dedicate a separate section to auto-tagging if it were that simple. Not only will auto-tagging help you track offline conversions, more on which you can read in Chapter 6, but it will let you follow the performance of your ads using the link with Analytics.

Actually, without auto-tagging, it’d be impossible for Analytics to come up with all of those helpful metrics that allow you to track people’s behaviour after they click on your ad. Although we don’t want to go into too much detail, it’d be good for you to know how auto-tagging works from the technical side of things.

When auto-tagging is enabled, a parameter called gclid is added to the URL people get sent to when they click your ad.

For example, if your site is called www.deliciouscupcakes.com, then the URL that your visitors will see in their address bar when they click on your ad could look something like this: www.deliciouscupcakes.com/?gclid=123456789abcxyz.

The information that is gathered through this parameter is what allows Google Analytics to tell you precisely what keywords got people to your site and how much it cost you, plus a bunch of other stuff too. Any and all of the traffic you get will be logged and saved, so you can analyse it and make profitable AdWords decisions later.