How to Set Up Google Analytics Goals & Track Conversions?

Business

Tracking your traffic should rarely be your main goal if you wan. With the help of Google Analytics, you can track those all important conversion rate.

By Ahmed khalifa

How are you currently tracking your website’s online goals?

Sure, you can look at the number of sessions, bounce rate and your most popular landing pages via Google Analytics.

But let’s face it, they are rarely going to be your main goals.

And if that applies to you, then you are missing out on important data such as conversion rate. They are the important data that will define your business, so if you have not set up Google Analytics goals or you don’t know if you have done it correctly, you need to read this post.

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Table of Contents

  1. What are the Common Conversion Goals for Websites?
  2. What are ‘Goals’ in Google Analytics?
  3. Why You Should Use Goals and Conversions?
  4. Different Types of Google Analytics Goals
  5. How to Create Goals in Google Analytics Correctly?

You can either click on the links above to take you to the relevant section first or you can watch the video below:

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1. What are the Common Conversion Goals for Websites?

Many website owners would assume that the only thing you can track or is worth tracking on our websites are sales of products.Even though online purchases definitely counts as a goal, there are many websites out there that don’t sell products online.So what else could we classify as conversions on our websites?Here are some examples:

  • Newsletter subscriptions
  • Contact form leads
  • Phone call leads
  • Ebook/brochure/demo downloads
  • Event tickets confirmation
  • Online donations
  • Free trial requests
  • Articles read/visited
  • Clicks on call-to-action button
  • Completing a level in a mobile gaming app

There is a good chance that at least one of the examples above applies to you. And if it does, how confident are you that a) you are tracking your goals, and b) your conversion rate is accurate.

2. What are ‘Goals’ in Google Analytics?

As defined by Google, “Goals measure how well your site or app fulfils your target objectives. A goal represents a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business”.And any of the above goals are examples of those targets which can define your online success (notice I said your online success, not everyone else’s online success).And when a website visitor performs a specific action that you’ve defined as a goal, GA will then record that as a conversion.

3. Why You Should Use Goals and Conversions?

When you have set up your goals, you will then have the metrics that really matter to your business.Sure, you can focus on metrics like sessions, time on page and bounce rate, which are helpful in their own rights. But unless your primary objective is to generate ad revenue, where you solely want eyeballs and engagements, these metrics are not and should not be your primary metrics.By having a properly configured a goal, it will allow GA to provide you with various information such as conversions, revenue, page value and conversion rate. Without that, it is very difficult, potentially impossible, to measure and evaluate the success of your online activities.From there, you can then dissect your conversions and look at which traffic source is your most effective, which is not effective, which pages converts well and which pages don’t, etc.

screenshot of conversions section

If that’s not enough, you will then have access to more data such as funnel visualisation (for one of the goal types), where you can look at the funnel process of your customer going from arriving on your page to converting on your site.

screenshot of funnel visualisation

4. Different Types of Google Analytics Goals

There 4 different types of goals that you can create on Google Analytics (GA):

  • Destination: This is when a visitor lands on a specific page or location. For example, an order confirmation page or a Thank you for subscribing page
  • Duration: This tracks a visit that lasts for a specific amount of time or longer. For example, 2 minutes or more on a blog post or 10 minutes or more on a video page which has more than 10 minutes worth of videos
  • Pages/screen per session: This is when a user views a specific number of pages or screens in one session. For example, when 3 or more pages/screens have been visited
  • Event: This is when an action (aka Event) has been triggered. For example, when a video has been played, when social icons are clicked on or when an ad banner is clicked on

Of all the types of goals mentioned above, the most popular for many websites is the Destination goal. It’s certainly my most commonly used goal type for my own sites as well as my clients' sites too.

There is also an alternative goal tracking method called ‘Smart Goals’, which is designed for “Google Ads advertisers who may not have enough conversions to use the Google Ads optimization tools, such as automated bidding”.

But to be honest, it’s not something that you should focus on, and this article will not go in-depth about it either.

5. How to Create Goals in Google Analytics Correctly

Before you start creating your goals, it’s important that you have set up Google Analytics correctly.Failure to do so will either not give you your desired data or it can give you inaccurate data.And the last thing you want to do is to make a decision on your business based on incorrect data.After you have signed into your GA account and selected the website where you’d like to create a new goal, click on “Admin” on the bottom left, which will then open up your admin settings:

screenshot of admin settings

Click on “Goals” on the 3rd column to open up the goal settings, where you will then create new goals.

screenshot of goal settings

After clicking on “+New Goal”, you are then taken to the beginning of the goal creation, where you will have a template to choose.It may be tempting to go with one of the templates and you might think it’s easier to do so, but you are actually better off going with the “Custom” option at the bottom.It’s not as hard as you might think, so click on “Custom” and then “Continue”.

screenshot of custom goal setup

Then you want to name your goal. Be specific (such as. “Newsletter Subscription Confirmation” or “Purchase Completed”), but if you don’t get it right the first time, you can always edit it again later on.Then pick your ”Goal slot ID” (any of them will do unless you are fussy about the ordering of your goals).From there, you will see the type of goals which we have mentioned previously, and we’ll briefly go through them one-by-one.

a) How to Implement a Destination Goal

As I mentioned earlier, this is perhaps the most common goal for most small businesses and it’s also a very easy one to use, provided that you have a destination URL that you want your visitors to go to.For example, after purchasing a product, there tends to be an order confirmation page, which can act as your destination goal. In this example, let’s assume that the URL for that page is https://www.example.com/order-confirmation/?id=123456789 You can choose the “Destination” to “Begins With” /order-confirmation/ (assuming that you don’t have any other pages that begin like that URL):

screenshot of destination begins with

You can make use of Regular Expressions (or “Regex”) on Google Analytics for the same purpose as above:

screenshot of destination regular expression

...or to help refine your destination goal further or to choose a set of destination pages together.For example, you may have the following newsletter subscription pages for monthly and weekly versions:

  • /newsletter-subscription-confirmation-monthly/
  • /newsletter-subscription-confirmation-weekly/

But for some reason, you want to track them as one goal instead of two. So you can use Regex to put it together:

screenshot of destination regular expression (combined tracking)

If you know the monetary value of your conversion, it is recommended that you put them in the “Value” (not just for the destination goal, but all goals).It is also recommended to make use of the “Funnel” feature so that you can look at the funnel process of your customer going from arriving on your page to converting on your site. And with that data, you can then look at reducing the number of people leaving the funnel or spot any other major issues along the way.

screenshot of funnel feature

You can find Funnel Visualization by going to Conversion > Goals > Funnel Visualization[/caption]Make sure you fill in the fields correctly. So for the image above, it will be as follows:

screenshot of funnel fields

Related post: What is Regex & How to Use it on Google Analytics?

b) How to Implement a Duration Goal

Setting up the duration goal is very quick and simple.All you have to do is set a minimum length of hours, minutes and/or seconds that counts as a goal:

screenshot of duration goal

To be honest, it’s not a very popular goal and I’m not sure when it would be relevant. But perhaps if you have a video game website or app, you might want people to play games for hours?You then might feel that a duration of 1 hour or more is a good goal for you as it will indicate that your visitor has been active on the site for that length of time.Or you might want to understand how engaged (or not) are your readers if you run a publication website.

c) How to Implement a Pages/Screens Per Session Goal

Setting up the pages or screen per session goal is also very simple.All you have to do is to set a minimum number of pages/screens that will then qualify as a goal:

screenshot of pages-screens per session goal

This is another less popular goal but could be useful again for publication websites, if they are heavily focused on their visitors to read multiple stories.

d) How to Implement an Event Goal

This goal is the most complex of them all to set up. There are WordPress plugins such as WP Google Analytics Events which can help you (though I’ve never tried either of them, so test them out first).You can also gain the help of a developer to implement the codes too, though you’d need to make sure that they are experienced with Google Analytics or have someone with them who helps them with the implementations of Event Tracking.

In any case, it is unlikely that this is an important goal type for you, but if it is, follow the instructions provided by Google to help set it up for you.

And that’s it. You have successfully created a goal in Google Analytics.Once you start accumulating data, you will then have more important metrics to follow instead of sessions and bounce rate.

Question: if you are already tracking goals, what goals are you tracking on Google Analytics?

If you have not started to track goals, what is stopping you from doing so?

Let me know in the comment section down below.