Goal Tracking in Google Analytics

Jason Brewster - May 19, 2016

Goal tracking is a critical aspect of Google Analytics reporting. It moves the analysis from the: “Did we get more traffic?” frame of mind to: “Is the traffic we are getting valuable?” Unfortunately there are several brands that either fail to measure goals, or fail to implement them correctly. Following is a list of some of the common mistakes we see every day.

  • No goal tracking whatsoever
  • Goal tracking on pages that aren’t a thank you page
  • Setting up multiple goals for funnel reporting instead of using the funnel reporting option
  • Changing goals without documenting anything, leading to wildly shifting values


No Goal Tracking

This is an easy fix, however it is also frustrating to users because goals only begin collecting data from the point where they are created. Savvy users can leverage advanced segmentation to see historical data, but this will not have the same benefits like showing up as a goal completion in all of the standard reporting.


Goal Tracking Without Thank You Pages

When goals are used to track activity to a section of your site, they aren’t really doing their job. Unless you have ad units that are unique to that section this should really be replaced by Google Analytics Content Grouping, advanced segmentation or custom reporting.


Multiple Goals to Create a Funnel

This sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately, it creates more work than simply setting up destination-based goal funnels. If you are using event-based goals, then think about switching to virtual pageviews. When done properly, this will populate the Funnel Visualization and Goal Flow reports.

Google Analytics - Funnel Visualization example

Google Analytics - Goal Flow Report

Changing Goals

Google only gives you 20 goals to use at any given time, so sometimes we are forced to repurpose them. Many users will rely on the timeline notations to point this out. While notation is important and this is a great use case for it – we suggest that, in addition to notation, users rename their goals to include a modification date. This will help greatly when trying to keep your reports clean and logical.



Once you have followed these steps and your goal data is clean and dependable, your GA reports will be augmented with critical information about your users. Remember, however, that good data is only useful when it is looked at and that setting up time to review this information with stakeholders is just as important as generating it.

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