How to Track Your Google Clicks Like an Expert

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There’s one crucial number, one critical metric that you’re looking to improve when you split test – whether you’re trying out new Google ads or pages on your website. Know what that number is, and then get solid, statistically reliable data before you declare a winner. When you do that, the profitability of the traffic coming through your site can’t help but grow and grow.

Everybody agrees on the importance of a solid CTR, or click-through rate. After all, you want as much traffic as possible. But there’s a number even more critical than that.

(1) The single most important number that you always want to improve on is your value per visitor, or VPV.

Value per visitor is the average dollar and cents amount that each click is worth to you. You calculate it by dividing your total sales amount by the number of clicks. For example, if you had 7,500 total clicks to your site this month and you sold $4,500 in products, your value per visitor is $0.60.

When you take the clicks that come through your site and make them worth more, they’re worth more not just to you, but also to all of the affiliates and joint venture partners who send traffic to you. This means that more of them will be jumping on your bandwagon, and you will ultimately get a bigger share of the pie.

Folks often ask what a reasonable cost per click is. That depends on your market and, even more importantly, how profitable your sales process is. If you can grow your vale per visitor, then you can pay more for your clicks.

(2) You can – and you should whenever possible – track VPV as far back as your Google click.

The idea of “split testing” advertising copy is 100 years old. With Google, however, it is faster and easier than at any other time in history to put up two ads, rotate them evenly and get clear results … sometimes within a matter of hours.

This, of course, is something you should do in your Google campaigns as a matter of habit. Always run two ads at the same time and play the age-old marketing game of “beat the control,” where you delete the loser and try to come up with a new ad that will outperform your current winner. For some, this can make the difference between bankruptcy and six-digit profits – all because the Google setup makes split testing so simple.

What most folks don’t realize, though, is that you can split test two Google ads for a lot more than just click-through rate. Third-party tracking services such as Hypertracker (www.hypertracker.net) will let you track value per visitor from your opt-in or squeeze pages and from your various sales pages – but Google has a way to do this as well.

To use the Google built-in conversion tracking system, you simply paste the appropriate code on “success” pages or “thank you” pages on your site for people who have just completed a signup or purchase. Google’s system then connects clicks to conversions and tells you which keywords – and which ads – are turning out the most signups and sales.

If you want to see how well two ads are converting – not just attracting clicks – click on the “Reports” tab and choose the report type called “Text Ad Performance.” Check the appropriate boxes next to “conversions” and “conversion rate” and Google will generate a report that tells you how each ad is doing.

Plus, if you sell products at more than one price point and you’ve got separate “success” or “thank-you” pages for each one, you can generate a special Google conversion code for each of those price points and then run reports to see how well each ad is converting into dollars.

At that point you’re no longer merely tracking clicks – important as they are – you’re tracking value per visitor. You discover that you can write better ad copy that actually influences sales on the other end.

(3) Make sure you’ve got solid numbers before you declare a winner.

How many clicks do you need on two ads before you’re sure that one has the better click-through rate? How many sales do you need on a pair of pages you’re testing before you’re absolutely sure that one is going to generate more sales in the long run? Is one or two, or five or six, enough?

Not by a long shot. If you’re just counting clicks and click-through rates on two ads, the magic number is 30 clicks – on each ad – at the absolute minimum. Trends change and traffic fluctuates from hour to hour, day to day and week to week, and with the first 10 or 20 clicks on a pair of ads, their relative click-through rates could vary wildly.

So give it time, and let the numbers flesh themselves out naturally. This is what the experts call statistical significance. At www.SplitTester.com, you can access a kindergarten-simple online tool to compare clicks and click-through rates to find out if you’ve hit the point of statistical significance yet or not. The SplitTester tool gives you an answer in seconds.

If you’re measuring sales, however, that rule-of-thumb “30″ number may need to double, or even triple, especially if you’ve got traffic flowing in from multiple sources or if the minimum 30 comes in quickly over the course of a couple of days, because you need to take weekly fluctuations into account.

When you know what number you’re aiming for – namely, the visitor value – that yanks away the fuzz. All other numbers become secondary. Tracking visitor value, even (when it’s possible) as far back as the Google click, brings a singularity of focus to all of your online work, and particularly to all of your testing. When you’ve waited and watched that extra amount of time up front to be absolutely certain that you’ve got statistically significant numbers, then every step forward you take will be a permanent one.

About the Author

Bryan Todd and Perry Marshall co-authored The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, available from www.BryanTodd.net.

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