(This post is about Google AdWords conversion tracking by keyword. To jump to phone call conversion tracking using dynamic phone number insertion click here.)

Most business owners know about A/B testing by now: The process in which you test multiple versions of the same ad to see if one has an advantage over the other in performance.

google adwords conversion tracking by keyword

In Facebook advertising, this is done by creating variations of an ad with differing headlines, text copy, calls to action, and even different images. By tracking which ads are most successful you can put more of your budget towards running those ads and eliminate the worse performing ads.

That’s optimization in a nutshell. But if it’s as easy as that, why don’t we all do it with Google AdWords?

Well, the short answer is that it’s harder and more time-consuming.

Most people who run Google AdWords campaigns do the A/B testing described above with their text ads. They create multiple versions of their text ads for each ad group and then they see which one has the highest click through rate and the lowest cost per click.

But many people doing this fall short of the ultimate level of A/B testing, which is tracking all the way to the final conversion. When you set up conversion tracking in your AdWords campaigns you will be able to see which keywords you are bidding on are actually resulting in people contacting you.

You’ll also then be able to see which devices they contact you from, what time of day they contact you, and which text ad they clicked on in the first place.

This is a very powerful bit of information when you need to make sure that your AdWords budget is being used in the most efficient way possible. Or in other words, when you most the most leads for the least ad spend.

One thing that makes optimization in Google AdWords so much different from Facebook is that in Facebook advertising you are bidding on an entire audience of people. These people have shown behavior, such as visiting your website or a website about the service you provide, that makes you believe they are worth you paying money to have them click on your ad and visit your website.

You think the behavior that they have previously shown makes them likely to purchase from you. Therefore, you spend money to show them an ad that they will hopefully click on, and you hope that eventually, they will buy from you.

The difference in Google AdWords is that these people have only taken one specific action, and they’ve only shown one particular behavior: they searched for one particular keyword phrase that you believe makes them likely to buy your product or service.

That one action is not a guarantee. The only way to know for sure which keyword searches actually predict a high likelihood of purchasing from you is to see what people do when they click that keyword and visit your site. If you track all your keywords and see which ones actually deliver leads, you then know which keyword searches show a high likelihood of purchase.

When you know which keyword searches lead to purchases, you can bid higher on those keywords and stop bidding as much on the ones that don’t. You can set your bids on high performing keywords to make sure you’re always showing up in the top two or three search results.

“When you know which keyword searches lead to purchases, you can bid higher on those keywords and stop bidding as much on the ones that don’t.”

It’s not only keywords which you can use conversions to optimize. You can also adjust your bids to be higher in the morning hours if you know that searchers in the morning are more likely to buy from you than searchers in the evening. Maybe you see that the weekend is the hottest time for you, you can adjust your bids accordingly to outbid your competitors over the weekend.

As exciting as all these possibilities are, none of them exist for you if you don’t set up conversion tracking.

Phone Calls in AdWords Conversion Tracking

Do you run a business where a majority of your leads come from phone calls? This is something that you need to track. The same concept for optimization from above applies here, but you won’t have the conversion data to optimize around if you don’t set up some form of call tracking.

Optimizing around web conversions can be fairly simple. Just slap a piece of simple code on your “Thank You” page and you’re good to go. Or if you’re tech savvy, set up your conversion pixel to fire on a web contact form submission.

But when trying to track phone calls we have to get a bit more sophisticated. Staying with the importance of being able to track leads by the keyword they searched, there is really only one effective way to do it.

Using Dynamic Phone Number Insertion for AdWords Conversion Tracking

Using dynamic phone number insertion allows marketers and business owners to track the exact sources of the phone calls they get.

Want to know whether your calls are coming from your organic listing, Google AdWords, or some directory listing like Yelp? You absolutely can.

Here’s how it works:

You sign up for a call tracking service such as WhatConverts which assigns you five local phone numbers. Anytime someone visits your website they are shown a different phone number depending on how they got to your website, or which keyword they searched.

So for example, let’s say you get these 5 numbers:


You might have one person click on an AdWords ad from the keyword:
“flooring company in deer park”
and that person is shown the phone number ending in -1234.

Then a couple of hours later you get another visitor from an AdWords ad from the keyword:
“flooring contractor in deer park”
and that person is shown the phone number ending in -1235.

Let’s go further to say that the second person calls you. Your call tracking system integrated with AdWords, such as WhatConverts, will now credit the keyword “flooring contractor” with a phone call conversion within your Google AdWords account.

That’s invaluable information to have. Especially when you consider the implications of having that data for an entire month. Imagine looking at the end of a three-month span and seeing that “flooring contractors” led to 60 phone calls, while “flooring companies” led to only 6.

With that data, you can now make sure and bid higher on the “flooring contractor” keyword because you know it’s more likely to lead to a phone call for your business.

You can do this with more aspects than just keywords too. With dynamic phone number insertion, you can see if more of your calls are coming from your Google Maps listing, your organic Google placement (especially helpful if you’re spending money on SEO), or if people are coming directly to your website because of strong branding efforts elsewhere.

The important thing is that by tracking phone call conversions to this extent, especially when tracking at the keyword level, you can get the full picture of your digital marketing strategy’s success. You’ll know what works and what doesn’t, which will allow you to move advertising dollars to the areas that are generating the highest returns.

Again, that’s optimization in a nutshell.

Don’t overlook Google AdWords campaign optimization at the keyword level any longer. And please don’t wait to set up call conversion tracking. It could very well be the most important thing you do for your marketing efforts this year.

Check out this video from WhatConverts that explains how dynamic phone number insertion works.