How to Set Up and Optimize Google Ads Conversion Tracking using GA4

Google Ad Grant

Google Ads is a great tool to get more eyeballs on key pages of your site. If you’re a nonprofit and you’re taking advantage of the Google Ad Grant, that’s $10,000 per month in free ad spend to drive traffic and impact.

But aren’t you curious what users who see your ads do after they click? If you have a campaign that drives users to a downloadable resource guide, you probably want to know how many people are actually downloading that resource. Luckily, with conversion tracking, it doesn’t have to be a guessing game: You can know exactly what actions users from Google Ads are taking on your site, which can help determine the true return on investment (ROI) of your Google advertising efforts and its role in your organization’s larger mission.

Why Bother With Conversion Tracking?

By utilizing conversion tracking in Google Ads, you’re able to see and measure the user journey from the moment they click on your ad to when they complete an action on-site, such as signing up for your newsletter or donating. It may be a couple of extra steps, but we promise the data you’ll receive will help you make more strategic decisions to drive impact for your organization.

In order to set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking, you’ll need 2 things:

  • A Google Ads Account. Yes, you can (and should) set up conversion tracking if you are a nonprofit using a Google Ad Grant account.
  • A website
  • Strongly recommended: A GA4 account.

How to Import Conversion into Google Ads from GA4 

A brief note before moving forward. You must link your Google Ads to your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) account in order to import conversions. If you already have conversions configured in GA4 you can easily import them into your Google Ads account, following the steps below.

  1. Go to Tools & Settings in the top navigation bar
  2. Click Measurements, followed by Conversions
  3. Click the blue New Conversion Action button
  4. From there, you’ll want to go to Import, then select your GA4 Web property. Note: You must already have your GA4 and Google Ads accounts linked.

5. From there, you can choose whether you want the imported conversion is a primary action or secondary action and adjust other settings like how often the conversion should be counted per interaction and the attribution model you want to assign to this conversion (Data-driven is recommended in most cases)

How to Create a Conversion in Google Ads without importing from GA4 

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads Account
    • In the top gray bar, click “Tools” → “Conversions”

  1. Click the blue plus “+” icon to add a new conversion. There are several types of conversions you can track, including Website, App, and Phone Calls. Additionally, you can upload your own conversions from a third-party source, such as GA4. The most common conversions we track are on websites, so we’ll continue with that option for the purpose of this tutorial.
  1. Fill in the information for the conversion you want to track. Suppose we want to track newsletter signups on our website. For Category, we’d choose “Sign-up”
  1. Name: We can name our conversion “Newsletter sign-up.”
  1. Value: You then have the option to enter a monetary value for your conversion if you know exactly what one conversion is worth to your organization. If you already have ecommerce tracking set up in GA4, you have a good idea of what these values are. You also have the option to not add a value.
  1. Count: We would choose “One” in our example, since we wouldn’t want the same person signing up twice for our newsletter to be counted as two separate conversions.

count section in google ads conversion tracking

  1. Conversion Window and View Through Conversion Window: A conversion window allows you to tell Google how long to track a conversion after someone clicks on your ad. The default is 30 days, which is recommended, but you can learn more about conversion windows and chose what’s best for your situation. View-through conversions are similar to conversion windows, but are specifically for ads on the Google Display Network
  1. Include in Conversions: You’ll want to check this box if you plan on optimizing your Ads campaigns for this specific conversion using Google’s smart bidding strategies like Target ROAS, Target CPA, and ECPC.

How to Set Up the Conversion Tracking Tag

Once you create a conversion in Google Ads, you’ll receive a snippet of code, called a tag, that you need to deploy on your website in order to start tracking conversions. There are two options to do this: You can install the tag yourself, or you can deploy it using Google Tag Manager.

Option 1: Install the conversion tag yourself

Here are the full instructions if you want to DIY it (or send to your developer).

Option 2: Install Using Google Tag Manager (Recommended)

  1. Copy the Conversion Label and Conversion ID given to you when you create your conversion event in Google Ads.
  1. Watch this quick, 3-minute tutorial to learn how to use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to deploy Google Ads conversion tags,
If you’re a Google Ads newbie and would like to dive deeper about how to set up an account from scratch, how to write awesome ads, where to find keywords, and how to measure success within your account, enroll in our three-hour Whole Whale University course. You’ll learn how to make the absolute best use of this grant, which will mean thousands more users taking meaningful action on your site this year. We’ve managed over $4 million in Google Grants and we want to help you get free money too!

Have more questions about setting up Google Ads conversion tracking? Tweet us at @WholeWhale!