Mastering GCLID Tracking in Google Ads: A Complete Information Resource


Today’s Marketing world is pure magic. Consider all the ways you can engage with your potential customers through different channels with different messaging and type of content – it is gold for your lead generation. Gone are the days when a single campaign in a traditional medium would suffice, this could be a disaster for today’s marketing realm and a waste of money. Statistically, the average customer uses 8 different touchpoints before making a purchase.

But why do we talk about touchpoints and leads in a gclid article? Because all these wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t measure and record all these touchpoints to optimize your your marketing performance and budget. For me, driving money and sales to your business sometimes it can be easier than knowing what made each sale happen.

What is Gclid or Google Click Identifier?

Gclid is a unique tracking parameter that is added to the URL of a landing page when a user clicks on an ad in Google Ads. This parameter helps to identify the specific ad that was clicked on, the campaign it belonged to, and the keyword that triggered the ad. The purpose of GCLID is to track and attribute specific clicks and conversions to the corresponding ad campaigns, keywords, and targeting parameters. This information is then sent back to Google Analytics, which can use it to provide valuable insights into how your ads are performing.

Google defines GCLID as a parameter passed in the URL with ad clicks, to identify the campaign and other attributes of the click associated with the ad for ad tracking and campaign attribution. 

How Does it Work?

When a user clicks on an ad in Google Ads, the URL of the landing page is automatically tagged with the Gclid parameter. This parameter is created by Google Ads and includes a unique identifier that corresponds to the specific ad that was clicked on. When the user lands on the page, the Gclid parameter is read by Google Analytics, which then associates the click with the appropriate ad, campaign, and keyword.

Here is a simple example: I used the term “ alternative”

gclid tracking - search query

Then I clicked on the first result on ClickUp’s Campaign.

gclid tracking - url

Now, clickup knows the campaign, the ad group, the ad I clicked, the keyword I used and the landing page I visited.

If I continue my research and come back to clickup, 10 days later, in order to register using another keyword and clicking in another campaign (e.g. Branded campaign), this info will be added in my previous behavior building my path.

What parameters does Gclid track?

GCLID is primarily designed to track attribution and identify the click source, including the campaign, ad group, keyword, ad content, and other relevant details. These parameters serve as the foundation for analyzing the performance of your campaigns and optimizing them for better results. Here’s what info you can get:

  1. Source and Medium: GCLID captures the source of the click, such as or a specific Google domain, and the medium through which the click occurred, such as CPC (cost-per-click) or organic.
  2. Campaign and Ad Group: GCLID tracks the specific campaign and ad group that the clicked ad belongs to. This information helps marketers analyze the performance of different campaigns and ad groups.
  3. Keyword: If the click was triggered by a keyword-targeted ad, the GCLID captures the keyword associated with the ad. This information allows marketers to understand which keywords are driving clicks and conversions.
  4. Ad Content: GCLID also records the content of the ad itself, including headlines, descriptions, and any variations in ad copy. This parameter helps marketers analyze the effectiveness of different ad creatives.
  5. Ad Position: The position of the ad on the search results page or other advertising platforms can be tracked by GCLID. This data helps marketers understand the impact of ad placement on click-through rates and conversions.
  6. Device and Browser: GCLID captures information about the device (such as desktop, mobile, or tablet) and the browser used by the user when clicking on the ad. This parameter provides insights into device-specific performance and user behavior.
  7. Ad Network: GCLID can identify the specific Google advertising network where the click occurred, such as the Google Search Network, Google Display Network, or YouTube.
  8. Placement: If the ad was displayed on a specific website or placement within the Google Display Network, the GCLID can capture that information. This allows marketers to understand the performance of different placements.
  9. Ad Creative Version: If you’re running multiple versions of the same ad, GCLID can track which version was clicked. This parameter helps assess the effectiveness of different ad variations.
  10. Match Type: If the click was triggered by a keyword-targeted ad, the GCLID can provide information about the match type used, such as exact match, phrase match, or broad match. This data helps in evaluating the performance of different match types.

How to set up gclid tracking in Google Ads in 3 steps

Enabling Auto-Tagging using Google Ad’s new interface

Auto-tagging is a feature in Google Ads that automatically adds a unique tracking parameter called the Google Click Identifier (GCLID) to the destination URLs of your ads. When enabled, auto-tagging simplifies the process of tracking and measuring the performance of your Google Ads campaigns. GCLID tracking is automatically enabled when you enable auto-tagging in your Google Ads account. To do this:

Google Ads account settings
  • Expand the “Auto-tagging” section, check the box and save your changes.
google Ads auto-tagging

Top things to consider when you are getting started:

  1. Update Destination URLs: Ensure that your destination URLs are using the “Final URL” field instead of manually appended tracking parameters. This ensures that Google Ads can automatically add the GCLID parameter to your URLs. If you are using any custom tracking parameters, make sure they are compatible with auto-tagging to avoid conflicts.
  2. Landing Page Tracking: If you want to capture and utilize the GCLID on your landing pages or within your tracking systems, you can extract the parameter from the URL. The GCLID parameter has the format “?gclid=XXXX”, where “XXXX” represents the unique identifier generated by Google.
  3. Set Up Conversion Tracking: To track conversions, set up conversion tracking in your Google Ads account. This allows you to measure and attribute conversions back to specific campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ads. Conversion tracking can be set up using various methods, such as website conversion tracking, import conversions from third-party systems, or offline conversion tracking.
  4. Analyze Data: Once you have enabled GCLID tracking and set up conversion tracking, you can analyze the data in your Google Ads account or integrate it with third-party tracking systems, such as Google Analytics. Review key metrics like clicks, conversions, and conversion rates to evaluate the performance of your campaigns and make data-driven optimization decisions.

How gclid can help you:

  1. Accurate Attribution: GCLID allows for accurate attribution of clicks and conversions to specific campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ads. This level of granularity helps marketers understand which elements of their campaigns are driving results and enables data-driven decision-making.
  2. Enhanced Performance Analysis: By tracking GCLID data, marketers can analyze the performance of their campaigns at various levels, including campaign, ad group, keyword, and ad content. This analysis provides insights into which components are performing well and which may require optimization, leading to improved campaign performance.
  3. Conversion Tracking: Gclid enables marketers to connect user actions, such as form submissions, purchases, or other desired actions, back to the specific ad click that initiated the conversion. This information helps measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns in driving desired outcomes.
  4. Improved ROI: By tying specific clicks and conversions to ad spend, they can determine the effectiveness and profitability of their advertising efforts, allowing for better budget allocation and optimization.
  5. Data-Driven Optimization: By analyzing the performance of different campaign components and identifying patterns and trends, marketers can optimize their targeting, ad content, bidding strategies, and other factors to maximize campaign success and achieve better results.
  6. Offline Conversion Tracking: GCLID can be utilized to track offline conversions, which occur when a customer takes a desired action, such as making a purchase, completing a form, or requesting more information, through channels outside of the online environment.
    By incorporating GCLID into offline conversion tracking systems, businesses can connect offline customer interactions or purchases back to the specific online ad click that influenced the conversion. This attribution helps marketers understand the full impact and effectiveness of their online campaigns in driving offline results.
Automate your Offline Call Conversion Tracking with this hands-on guide.

However, there are some limitations to Gclid. One of the biggest is that it only works with Google Ads, so if you’re running campaigns on other platforms, you won’t be able to use it. Additionally, can’t track users who have disabled cookies, so it may not provide a complete picture of your campaign’s performance.


Overall, Gclid is a powerful tool that can provide businesses with valuable insights into the performance of their ad campaigns. By tracking individual ads, campaigns, and keywords, businesses can optimize their campaigns for better results and reduce the risk of click fraud. While there are some limitations to Gclid, it is still a valuable tool that should be considered by any business running ads on Google Ads.

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