You must track your Google Analytics goals!
Want to know if your website is fulfilling your target objectives? If so, then you should monitor Google Analytics goals.
Although GA offers plenty of metrics “out of the box,” you’ll likely need to set up one or more goals to ensure that your visitors are taking the actions you want them to take.
Of course, there are countless goals you can set up. But which ones are the best?
In this article we’ll go over Google Analytics goals and share four of the most important.
What Is a Google Analytics Goal?
Before we get into specific goals you should follow, let’s go over the concept of Google Analytics goals.
Basically, goals are actions that people take on your website.
More specifically, they’re actions that you want people to take on your website. When people take those actions, they’re called conversions.
For example, if you want someone to make a purchase on your ecommerce site, that’s a goal.
Similarly, if you want people to sign up for your email distribution list, that’s also a goal.
Fortunately, Google makes it easy to track those kinds of actions. That will give you some insight as to how well your site encourages people to follow your lead.
If you want to set up a goal, start by logging in to Google Analytics. Click on ADMIN in the lower, left-hand corner of the screen. It’s the gear icon.
In the screen that appears, you’ll see three columns. On the right-hand column, look for Goals and click on it.
Then, click on +NEW GOAL at the top of the table that appears. In the next screen, you can create one of the pre-selected goals or select Custom at the bottom.
Note: for the purposes of this tutorial, you’ll always use Custom.
You’ll have to name your goal and specify a goal type. There are four types:
- A destination, such as a specific URL on your site
- A duration or the amount of time people spend on your site
- A number of pages (or screens) people visit per session
- An event, such as playing a video
Next, you’ll have to specify supplemental info as well. That will vary depending on which type of goal you specify.
Now that you know a little bit about the basics of goals,
let’s take a look at some Google Analytics goals you should set up and follow.
Event Goals (Google Analytics Goals)
The first kind of goals you should track are arguably the trickiest: event goals.
What are event goals? Their goals that track interactions with your content.
Here are a few types of event goals:
- File downloads
- Time spent watching videos
- Widget usage
Basically, any design element that your visitors can interact with can be tracked with an event.
Before you can set up event goals, though, you first need to define events. Fortunately, Google offers clear instructions on how to do that.
Keep in mind, each event has four components:
The first two components are mandatory. The last two are optional.
Use the Category component to group related elements. For example, you might have one category called “Videos.” That will follow all videos on your website.
Of course, you can create subcategories within categories as well. For example, you might have one category called “Instructional Videos” and another called “Funny Videos.”
The Action component identifies the kind of action that the user takes on the element. “Play” is an example of an action that would be applied to the “Videos” category.
Additionally, “Stop” and “Pause” are valid actions for videos.
The Label component allows you to provide additional info about the element associated with the event.
Let’s say you have a video called “Instructional Video 1.” You can use that title as the label.
The Value component, unlike the other components, is numerical. It only tracks integers.
So, for example, if you want to track the load time for a video, you’d set an event with the following specifications:
- Category: Videos
- Action: Video Load Time
- Label: Instructional Video 1
- Value: downloadTime
Then, after several people have watched your instructional video, your report will show both the total and average value for download time.
To set up an event goal, create a custom event as described in the opening section. Then, select “Event” as the goal type.
When you click the Continue button, Google Analytics will ask you to input the Category, Action, Label, and Value specific to the event goal.
Just make sure those names match exactly with your event, otherwise your analytics will be off.
Also, keep in mind that your goal will register as complete only if all of the event components match the values you specify.
Then, you can use that info to improve your marketing.
URL Destination Goals (Google Analytics Goals)
There are probably some “money” pages on your website that you want to follow. Setting up a URL destination goal makes that easy.
Sure, you can sift through the Google Analytics Behavior report. But that can get tedious.
To track a URL goal, create a custom goal as explained in the opening section. Then, select “Destination” as the goal type.
For the destination URL, enter only that portion of the URL that’s beyond your domain name.
For example, if your full destination URL is http://mysite.com/my-money-page, only enter “/my-money-page” in the destination URL field.
If you want to, you can add a monetary value to that page. That’s a good idea if it’s a page that confirms somebody just bought something on your site.
You also have the option to create a funnel for the goal. That’s a series of steps that you expect people to take before they reach your goal.
In this case, “a series of steps” means a number of web pages that they’ve visited first.
For example, somebody might visit your landing page. When they decide to buy what you’re selling, they visit your checkout page. When they’ve completed the checkout, they see your “Thank You” page, which is identified with the destination goal you’re defining.
It’s a great idea to set up a funnel so that you can see its “weak points.” For example, if you notice an unusually large number of people dropping off at your checkout page, that’s indication that it’s user-hostile. Take a look at it on different devices.
Destination goals give you an outstanding opportunity to track visits to important pages on your site and follow your visitors through the sales process.
Duration Goals (Google Analytics Goals)
Want to know how many people stay on your site for three minutes or more? If so, set up a duration goal.
Why is that important? Because dwell time matters in SEO.
If people reach your site from the SERPs and bounce away almost immediately, Google will pay attention to that.
In fact, Google will interpret that to mean that your site doesn’t have what those folks are looking for. You’ll likely lose some rank.
That’s why you should set up a duration goal.
To do that, start by creating a custom goal as defined in the opening section. Then, select Duration as the goal type.
On the next screen, specify the duration. Google Analytics enables you to define it in terms of hours, minutes, and seconds.
As with destination goals, you also have the option to specify a monetary value for your duration goal.
Keep in mind: Google Analytics isn’t very good at tracking durations. That’s because it compares timestamps between two different page visits on the same site.
For example, let’s say somebody visits your homepage, reads through it, and then clicks on your blog page. Google Analytics will record a timestamp when the person visited your homepage. It will record another timestamp when the person zips over to your blog.
The difference between those two timestamps is the time the person spent on the homepage.
But it’s not that easy. What if the person left your homepage open and went to get some lunch? What if that same person left your site before visiting another page on it?
Those kinds of events can skew your statistics.
Still, duration goals give you the opportunity to look for trends on your site. If you see some negative trends, you might have to do some redesigning.
Pages Per Visit Goals (Google Analytics Goals)
Finally, you should track pages per visit.
Why? Because that’s a number you want to be as high as possible. When people are visiting multiple pages per session, that’s an indication that you have a very healthy site that encourages people to browse around.
On the other hand, if people are leaving your site after visiting just one page, then it’s not very “sticky.” You need to update it so that people are more inclined to hang around.
To set up a pages per visit goal, start by creating a custom goal as explained in the opening section. Then, select “Pages/Screens per Session” as the goal type.
On the next page, you’ll have the option to specify your page count threshold. In other words, people will have to visit more than the number of pages you specify before the goal is reached.
You also have the option to specify a value for that goal if you want to do so. It’s not too often that you’ll associate a number of page visits with a monetary value, though.
Wrapping It Up Google Analytics Goals
There you have it: four Google Analytics goals you should be tracking.
Now that you know a little bit more about goals and the best ones to track, why not head over to GA right now and set up some goals? Then, check your reports after a while to determine if you need to make any improvements.