2.8K members online now
2.8K members online now
Use AdWords conversion tracking and reporting to measure your results. Have a question about Google Analytics? Post it here, on the Google Analytics Community!
Guide Me

Backtracking an AdWords broken link

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi all,


I have set up tracking via Google Tag Manager on my 404 page, which enables me to track the URL that generates the 404-error and the referrer page. 

In some instances the 404-page will have a gclid in the URL, which tells me that the traffic comes from AdWords. Finding the url in the AdWrods account can be a bit more tricky though. It can come from an ad, a sitelink, an outdated product list for a shopping ad or other sources, which can take a lot of time to narrow down.


Would it help to set up URL parameters which would help me identify the source? I could for example add the URL parameter '?SourceId=1' to all ads in a dynamic search campaign. The idea is then that I get both the gclid and the source id in the querystring of the url, and if that generates a 404 error, I could just look at my SourceId to know what the source is. 


Anyone have an idea if this will work?

Re: Backtracking an AdWords broken link

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 2
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Arne,

I am not too sure why you would want to do this. Surely if a URL is hitting a 404 then it does not matter where it is coming from? All instances of that URL should be removed/updated from/in your account.

You can just simply do a search for that URL in AdWords editor and see all KW/ads/extensions that are using that URL.

Does this help or am I missing something?

Re: Backtracking an AdWords broken link

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
It needs to be fixed no matter where it's coming from, you're right, but in order to fix it I need to know where.
I could search in AdWords editor, but I wouldn't find the broken link if it's in a shopping campaign or if a dynamic search campaign for some reason is the problem.
The main aim is to reduce the time needed for trouble-shooting.

Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by topic author Arne Michal P
August 2016

Re: Backtracking an AdWords broken link

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Arne,

Then I would (have) adopt a slightly different strategy.

I am not sure how you have set up your error reporting with GTM but I have done something similar. I, however, have all the information you are looking for.

This is the basics of my set up:

A first party cookie, generated on click with sessions expiration.

A script that checks for 404 pages and ensures that the above cookie does not exist.

This allows me to ensure that the 404 I am looking at is a landing page (there are probably much better ways to do it but with my limited knowledge and no dev involvement this is what i chose to use).

I then told the script to push the following to the data layer:

'event' : 'ga_event',
'event_category' : '404 page',
'event_action' : 'siteEntry',
'event_label' : pagePath

I then have a generic GA event in GTM that records all this data.

Now what I am able to do is look at GA and see exactly where all the 404 pages are coming from and only on landing pages, so that I know it was brought in from that source to a 404.

The advantage of this is that you can look at any GA dimensions you want to of the 404 event. So you can see keyword, ad group, campaign, account and so forth.

I chose this way as well as I do not filter out parameters form my GA due to the fact that I track internal campaigns and thus have non utm parameters that I am interested in and I was not wanting to add noise to this (as well as the fact that it would have been much more work). The parameter set up you are envisioning could work, but might be a large undertaking depending on your account(s) size.

Hope this helps

Re: Backtracking an AdWords broken link

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Well, that is certainly an easier and less work-intensive way of handling the issue - thanks!
I just need to figure out a way to adapt this approach to my set up.

For special interest, I track 404-pages through GTM in the following way:
I have a trigger that fires whenever a page with the unique page title (custom javascript variable, document.title) of the 404 page is discovered. I then send an event to GA, with Page URL and referrer. This lets me see the URL that triggered the 404 error (with the GCLID), and the referring page, if available. In the event of a link from AdWords to 404, the referrer will be

Thanks again for input!

Re: Backtracking an AdWords broken link

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Arne,

That is very similar, the only hiccup there is that this will fire on all 404 and create a lot of unnecessary checking. it is very possible (and likely the majority of these events) that an AdWords user will hit a 404 but not because of incorrect AdWords setup.

So if AdWords sends the user to a category page which works and then the user hits a broken link 3 pages later your tag will fire and you will start looking for that broken link in your account which it will not be, as the user came in on the category page.

That is the main difference with our set ups.