Using Goals in Google Analytics

Using Goals in Google Analytics

goal Sometimes it is necessary to track specific actions on a website in order to learn things. Goals in Google Analytics are the perfect tool for doing that. Using goals, webmasters can track things like when someone landed on a specific page, how long that person stayed there, and events that happened on their website. Goals track these occurrences and display them in reports as an integer each time they happen so webmasters can keep track of how many times the action was completed. Goal reports also display data in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand way.

What Can I Track with Goals in Google Analytics?

With goals, you can track destination pages, visit duration, pages/screens per visit or an event.

Destination:  A common use of the destination goal is to track when someone lands on a confirmation page. For instance, you may have advertising out on the web that leads visitors through a conversion funnel. The funnel may end at a final web page (such as a thank-you or confirmation page) where the funnel is complete. By using goals to track when users hit these pages, you can determine the success of your advertising and conversion funnel.

Duration:  This goal triggers when a visitor has spent a specified amount of time on a page. For instance, maybe you have blog pages, and you want to determine if visitors are spending time on those pages. You might set a goal to record if a visitor spends more than 5 minutes on the page in order to determine if you are meeting content or SEO related goals. Conversely, you may want to know if people are having trouble with a form page. You could set a goal to record if they are spending too long on the page. A high number might suggest that the form needs to be redesigned.

Pages/Screens per visit:  This goal is useful for tracking how many pages someone looked at per visit. You may want people to travel deeper into your site.  This goal type would help you determine if any changes you made were effective at doing that.

Event:  It used to be you were not able to track events as goals in Analytics. Events are simply user interactions that happen on a web page, but that cannot be recorded by the Analytics tracking code because they do not trigger a pageview. Things like video views, clicks on external links and downloads are examples of actions that are recorded as events. In the past, you would have to trick Google into thinking a pageview had happened in order to track the event as a goal. This was a complex workaround, and it also inflated pageviews artificially. Now you can track events as goals instead.

Setting Up Goals in Google Analytics

  1. Log into your Google Analtyics account
  2. Click the Admin tab near the top of the page
  3. Click on the profile that you want to create the goal in
  4. Click on “create a goal” Create Goal Button Screenshot in Google Analytics
  5. At the time of this writing, you will be prompted to choose from one of many pre populated goal templates. These are simply pre named templates that automatically select the radio button for the goal type in the next step based on the nature of the action. You can change the radio button selection in the next step, if necessary. Goal templates in Google Analytics Screenshot
  6. If the templates don’t fit your purposes, select “custom” and click “next”
  7. In the next step, you will either confirm your goal type (for templates) or choose one (for custom)
  8. Select the appropriate goal type based on what you are measuring
  9. The next steps will vary based on the goal type that you choose. For URL destinations, you will have to enter the URL of the page. For events, you will have to enter the category, action, label and value of the event.
  10. After you are finished, save your goal

Viewing goals in Google Analytics reports screenshot To view data from goals in reports, go to standard reporting and then Conversions->Goals. Here, you can look at an overview of all the goals you have running, goal URLs if you have specified a page, reverse goal paths, which show how users achieved the goal, and funnel visualization reports that give you a graphical representation of how users completed a goal or abandoned the funnel. The goal flow report gives you another graphical representation of the process, but it is a little more interactive.

Goals are a great way to measure specific actions on a website.  They have advanced to the point where you don’t need to use virtual pageviews in order to record goals that don’t trigger the Analytics tracking code

Are you using goals in Google Analytics? What has your experience been like? Let us know by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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