How to Setup a Goal in Google Analytics

Posted on 26/02/2014 by Jonathan Ellins

21-02-2014 13-12-55Goals can be used to track almost any action on a website, from simple actions such as viewing a key page to more complex tracking of video plays or the filling out of web forms.

Tracking goals doesn’t just show you how well your website is performing they can also be used to show how visitors found your website before completing a goal.  For example we could see which medium people found a website before making a purchase or signing up to a competition whether it be through a Google search, a social website or directly from a promotional email.

Once setup, goals will continue to work their magic without any more setup or development on the website.  It is worth to setup goals as soon as possible so you can see exactly what is working or not on the important actions you want visitors to take.

Start by visiting the “Admin” section of Google Analytics found at the top of the website. Afterwards you can find the goals page within the “View” section:

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If you cannot see this then you do not have administrator rights to the account and you’ll need to ask the owner of the account to give you access.

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Just press “+ NEW GOAL” to begin a new goal from the goals page.


Pageview Goal Setup on Google Analytics

The simplest goals to track are pageviews, visitors who visit a certain URL on the website.  If you are running an ecommerce website then the best pageview to track would be the “Thank you” or “Success” page after a customer’s purchase is confirmed or perhaps each stage of the payment process starting with the basket/cart page.  If you capture email addresses then you might have a “Thanks for subscribing” or “Thanks for entering the competition” page to track.

If you are not sure about the URL of the key pages on your website then view the pageview report at Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages.  Some ecommerce platforms may use a parameter on the URL when a payment is confirmed (for example “/payment.aspx?pay=success”) so ensure to add the full URL with an exact match type in this case.

Below are the steps to take to setup a pageview goal on Google Analytics:

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Set up a custom goal with a destination type firstly.
Add the final goal URL into the destination field.  Change “Equals to” to “Begins with” or “Regular expression” if the final URL isn’t always the same and contains a common string within it.

Remember to verify the goal before you finally create it as Google will check how many goals would have been completed within the past 7 days with the rule to confirm it’s correct.


Metric Goal Setup on Google Analytics

You may want to track the number of visitors who engage well with a website.  Examples of metric tracking you may wish to have are the number of people who view more than one page or the number of people who spend more than a minute on the website:

  • Measuring the time spend on the website may be a good option if you haven’t got call tracking set up or if you wish people to sit and watch a video and want to roughly measure how many people stuck around to watch it.
  • Measuring the number of pages per visit can be very valuable if you have a sales focussed landing page where the only option is to submit your email address and other details before proceeding to a new page.

Below are the steps to take to setup a metric goal on Google Analytics:

You can either pick a duration or the number of pages per visit.
Here I have set a duration which is greater than one minute but any time period could be used.
Here I have set a duration which is greater than one minute but any time period could be used.

Again remember to verify the goal to ensure it’s correct, Google will look at the metrics from the previous seven days to confirm.


Event Tracking Goal Setup on Google Analytics

A more advanced goal to setup are ‘event’ goals; these can track any type of click on a website, interactions with elements such as video players or even internal interactions within systems such as online chat software.

Events may already be tracked within Google Analytics but you need to link them up to a goal for them to be truly useful.  Events can have four fields which differentiates them: “category”, “action”, “label” and a “value” expressed as a number.  Grouping events within an event category allows you to organise the data better.  For example you could track an online registration form by setting the category to track the whole form, labels to track each click into the different fields of the form and an action for the “Submit” button.  We could then see the performance of the entire form or see which fields of the form was putting people off using it for example.

Setting up event goals requires a little development, the resources below should hopefully make it easy to implement:

Once setup you will start to notice the newly tracked events in the “Events” section of Google Analytics and can assign goals accordingly, the events section can be found here once logged in:

Below are the steps to take to setup an event goal on Google Analytics:

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Make a suitable name for your event goal as they can be tricky to figure out for other users on the account
Using the Zopim chat event tracking for example, only the “Action” field is required.  Most events will not use all four tracking fields and it is alright for them to be left blank when setting up the different goals.

You can try and verify the event goal but you may not have any previous event data if it has just been set up.  Goals can be easily edited so it’s not too bad if you accidentally set it up incorrectly, just make sure to check on it after a few days or trigger the goal yourself to test if your internal visitors aren’t deliberately blocked by Google Analytics.


Call Tracking Goal Setup on Google Analytics

support_help_talk-512The missing gap in goal tracking are conversions made through physical phone calls.  Many websites rely on land-line phone calls to connect to customers such as hairdressers, locksmiths or B&B guest-houses.  Tracking the user journey from the online world to the real world used to be near impossible, if someone visited a website and then rang the phone number shown on the website then it’s very hard to connect the two interactions, especially if traffic levels are very high.

Luckily there are a few companies now specialising in linking together the online and offline worlds such as Response Tap where a unique phone number is shown to each individual website visitor and the call can be fully tracked.  Most phone tracking companies will automatically feed the call conversion data back into Google Analytics and it can be set as a goal (through the event tracking system).  That goal could then be used like any other goal, seeing which keyword or source your calls came from, allowing you to focus efforts on those areas more heavily in the future.

Once setup you will start to notice the calls being tracked in the “Events” section of Google Analytics and can assign goals according to the names of the different fields used; the events section can be found here once logged in:


Advantages of Goal Setup on Google Analytics

Once you have all possible goals setup then it’s easy to see how converting visitors are finding your website or which types of visitors are the ones which convert:

  • If you are paying for traffic towards a website you could figure out a cost-per-lead for example or a cost-per-revenue report.
  • If you are generating leads through social channels then you could see which channel (Facebook, Twitter, Email Marketing, etc.) is bringing in the most valuable leads.
  • If you have two or more popular landing pages then you could measure which one generates more goals on average and promote it further.

The advantages of goal tracking are tenfold; no longer will you be in the dark about how a website is performing or how you brought any valuable visitors towards the website.  You can then act on the positive or negative goal data to improve your website or external marketing.


Goal Reporting on Google Analytics

Once goals are setup they will appear in Google Analytics and can be compared to any dimensions such as traffic source, landing page URL or paid keyword for example.  When visiting a dimension page (such as the different channels: Acquisition > Channels) you will notice the goal sets near the top of the page which can be clicked on from the default “Summary” view which will first appear:

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If you want to look at the goal data really in-depth then you can setup a custom report in Google Analytics to show exactly what you want.  Goal metrics can be separated by total goal completions, sets of goal completions or individual goal completions from the custom report panel.  The custom report below shows statistics for different keywords from just paid traffic; you can see a goal named “Enquiry” added to the report within the metrics (Goal 1 Completions) which can be then compared to the paid keyword data:

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