Smart Goals for AdWords is one of the latest ways small business owners can optimise their accounts for better performance. Google says this is designed for the hoards of businesses out there who still aren’t tracking conversions, for whatever reason.

We’re guessing this means firms that you don’t have the resources to track conversions and make the necessary changes, or fancy paying an agency to do it for them. If that sounds like you, or you just fancy trying out the new feature for yourself, here’s how to set up Smart Goals for AdWords.


Things you need BEFORE setting up Smart Goals

Because Smart Goals are actually a Google Analytics feature, there are a few things you’ll need before you can set them up in AdWords:


  1. Link your Google AdWords and Analytics accounts.
  2. Your AdWords account needs to send 1,000 clicks to the reporting view you set up in Google Analytics.
  3. That reporting view can’t receive more than 1 million hits per day.
  4. You need to have your Data Sharing Settings set to With other Google products only, which you’ll find in Admin > Analytics Account Settings.


If you have all of the above in place, then you’re ready to set up Smart Goals. But, before we show you how to do that, we want to make a quick mention of the Smart Goals report, which you can find in Google Analytics under Conversions > Goals > Smart Goals.

The first thing this does is show you how Smart Goals traffic differs from other traffic. But, more importantly, the report shows you how Smart Goals will perform once you set them up. This will help you decide whether Smart Goals are right for you before you go through the setup process. And, assuming you’re still on board, let’s look at how to do just that.


Step 1: Enable Smart Goals in Google Analytics

Okay, now you’re ready to set up Smart Goals in Google Analytics. Select the Admin tab once again and choose the view you want to work with from the drop down menu. All Web Site Data will be the default view.


Then you want to click Goals in the view column and click the red + NEW GOAL button on the next screen:


Next, you’ll want to select Smart Goal from the bottom of the list that appears, if it’s available. If you don’t meet the requirements we set out earlier in the article, you won’t be able to select this option:


Assuming you can select Smart Goals. Click this from the list of options and all you need to do now is name your Smart Goal:


And that’s all you have to do on the Google Analytics side of things. So let’s move on to AdWords and get these Smart Goals imported.


Step 2: Import your Smart Goals into AdWords

Okay, it makes sense to start by logging into your AdWords account and then want to click the Tools tab and select Conversions:


On the next screen you’ll see a menu column called  Conversion actions to the left. Click Google Analytics from the options. From here you can select your Smart Goals from the list of goals, click Continue and choose your settings. Click Import goals and there you have it!


Step 3: Optimize your AdWords performance with Smart Goals

Once you’ve imported Smart Goals into AdWords you’ll need to let them do their thing for a few weeks so they can collect enough data to make the magic happen. After that you can start using them to optimise your AdWords performance with this simple calculation:


Cost of your ads / number of completed Smart Goals

This gives you your cost per acquisition (CPA) and you can now set your target CPA in AdWords to match. Job done!

Google offers some tips extra to help you optimise your account using Smart Goals, which you can find here. Google recommends you use Target CPA bidding, which essentially automates bids for you, based on your campaign history, with the aim of maximising conversions.

If you’re using Smart Goals because you want Google to take care of optimisation for you, then this makes a lot of sense. But if you’ve made enough progress with AdWords to feel comfortable with Manual CPC bidding then go for it. If Manual CPC bidding is a breeze for you, then you may want to reconsider using Smart Goals in the first place.


So that’s how you can set up Smart Goals for AdWords and optimise your campaigns without tracking a single conversion. Of course, we’d always suggest you track conversions, if you have the means to do so. But we’re hoping Smart Goals will be a step in the right direction if you simply don’t have the resources or funds to make major changes to your AdWords account.