Setting Up Goals in Google Analytics

- March 22, 2010

Measuring page views, average time on site, bounce rate, or clicks from AdWords just doesn’t cut it anymore. You absolutely need to measure your website’s performance. It’s not about how your visitors start or where they come from, it’s about what they do and what they don’t do.

And, it’s not very difficult to do.

Google Analytics allows you to create up to 20 goals in any individual profile. With a maximum of 50 profiles per Google Analytics account, you have the possibility to create as many as one thousand goals in your account! One thousand!

Let me show you how to create a goal in Google Analytics, so that you can start measuring true web site outcomes today. First, there are three types of Goals that Google Analytics offers:

URL Destination: The URL (after the .com part) that a user sees in their address bar when they reach an important page of your site. Your shopping cart’s “Thank You” page, a receipt page, or a download page are all examples of important pages on your site (They’re important because it took a user to perform an important action, like fill out an inquiry form or buy something from your store).
– Time on site: The time that users spend on your site can be tracked as a goal. If you think that a successful visit to your site means that a user spent more than five minutes on it, you can set it up as a Goal. If you think spending less than 30 minutes on your site is a successful visit, you can also set that up as well.
– Pages/Visit: The pages per visit that users view can also be measured as a Goal. Suppose 8 or more pages per visit denotes a successful visit for you, or less than 20 pages per visit is a success, it can be measured.

To set up a Goal, log-in to your Google Analytics account and click on the Edit link, which is found to the far right of where your profile is listed on the Overview screen. Scroll down to find the Goals window. Click on Add goal in Goal Set 1 to begin.

From here, you’ll be able to enter in a goal name, activate it (turn the goal on or leave it off), and edit the goal position. The 20 available goals per profile are organized into four buckets of five goals each. Next, choose from one of the three goal types described above. If you choose URL Destination, you’ll be able to enter in the Goal URL and a Goal Value. Enter in everything after the .com or .net part of your URL, and leave the goal on Head Match (There are many other possibilities when dynamic URLs and regular expressions are involved, but I’ll save those for a later blog post). You also enter in a funnel of up to ten pages, where you can track the specific path website visitors take to reach your goal pages.

If you choose either Time on Site or Pages/Visit as the goal type, you’ll be able to enter in the time in hours, minutes, or seconds, or enter in the number of pages per visit. Each of these goal types allow you to choose “greater than” or “less than” options, depending on what you want to track. You’ll also be encouraged to enter in a goal value, so that you can associate a score (value) to each Goal Conversion.

Once you save your Goals, they will start to track right away. You’ll also notice tabs in most reports within Google Analytics labeled “Goal Set 1”. This is where report-level goal data is available. You’ll also find that you won’t need to play the guessing game any longer as far as how your site and marketing initiatives are performing. You’ll be able to see the performance of your site against its goals, which in turn, lets you make smarter, more confident decisions about your online presence.

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