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Google Introduces Smart Goals Optimisation in AdWords

Conversions are a key metric for AdWords accounts, to help advertisers make better use of their ad spend. However, some companies haven’t got conversion tracking in place, so a recent development by Google should be of interest to any business that runs AdWords, as there is now an alternative way to track conversions.

A conversion is a key metric for almost any business and can be defined as “that moment when users do the thing on the site that you want them to do” – e.g. complete a form, view an important page or .pdf document, or make a purchase. Many AdWords advertisers are already measuring their website conversions, using either AdWords Conversion Tracking or imported Google Analytics Goals and Ecommerce transactions. Measuring actual conversions is ideal, because it allows bids, ads and the website to be optimised with a clear goal in mind.

However, numerous small and medium size businesses aren’t currently measuring website conversions as they may not have a way for users to convert on their website, or they may not have the time or the technical ability to implement conversion tracking. Google understands the importance of this metric, so recently released an easy-to-use solution, termed ‘Smart Goals’.

These Smart Goals need to be set up in Google Analytics, and they can then help to identify the highest-quality visits to a website so that the data can be imported to AdWords and so the ad spend can be optimised for those key visits. The implementation requires no changes to website code and can lead to many more conversions.

Smart Goals are generated by Google applying machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics which are opted in to share anonymised conversion data. From this information, dozens of key factors are distilled that correlate with the likelihood to lead to a conversion – such as session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. These key factors can then be applied to any website.

The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect website visits that Google’s model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions. The highest-quality visits to a website can now be turned into Smart Goals automatically, as there are no additional tagging or customisation required and there is a Smart Goals report in Google Analytics. The behaviour metrics in this report indicate the engagement level of Smart Goals visits compared to other visits, helping to evaluate Smart Goals even before the feature is activated.

Smart Goals can be then be used as an AdWords conversion and optimised accordingly, by setting up a target CPA (cost per acquisition). However, there must be at least 1,000 clicks from AdWords over a 30-day period to ensure the activation and validity of the data. The Adwords spend is then based on the likelihood of a conversion, as determined by the Google model.

If you want to know more about Smart Goals, you can read more here, or contact us now for details of how this feature could help benefit the performance of your AdWords campaigns – we are one of Australia’s leading AdWords consultants since 2006.

This blog was first published in 2016, updated in 2018.