The importance of setting (Google Analytics) goals

The importance of setting (Google Analytics) goals

If anyone ever asks me what’s the best free tool you can use online, I always reply Google Analytics.

I find it so valuable to be able to identify how many people are coming to a website, where they’re coming from and what they are doing on the site.

Implementing Google Analytics is easy, but getting the most out of it is a time investment, but an investment very worthwhile.

I spend at least 30 minutes each day looking at Google Analytics for the contentgroup website and for a range of other clients. It’s free to use, but invaluable for the insights that can be gained.

Tracking goals in Google Analytics is very easy.

There are a range of different things you can track to identify whether your website is doing what you planned and which pieces of content are driving the most conversions including:

  • How many people stay on your website for a minimum amount of time
  • How many people viewed a minimum number of pages (designated by you) on your website
  • How many people reached a designated page (e.g. newsletter sign-up, contact or success of purchase page)
  • How many people triggered an event (e.g. watched a video, downloaded a document)

What goals should I look for on my site?

This depends on the purpose of your site and your industry, but here is a brief explanation:

E-commerce – sales is the primary goal. You should be implementing destination pages at a minimum to identify sales completions, traffic sources which lead to sales and also identify any pages which lead to high drop offs during the sales funnels.

Government/Not For Profit – awareness is usually the key. The important goals are pages per session, document downloads, video views

B2B – the primary purpose of your site is lead generation. So the goals you will want to track are newsletter sign-ups, contact form submissions, demonstration requests and pages per session.

How do I do it?

You have hopefully had a look around your Google Analytics to identify how many people have been coming to your website, where they are coming from, what sources are providing your website with traffic and which pages users have been looking at.  If you have done this, then you would have been looking at the Reporting tab.

To set up and manage goals, you need to click on the Admin tab at the menu at the top of the page identified below.

Google Analytics Menu

Once in the Admin panel you are shown a number of options depending on your access level.  In order to set Goals, you will need to have at least Manager or Administrator level access.

Underneath the third column, View, you should select Goals.

Google Analytics Admin Page

You can add up to 20 goals as a default and if you want to add more then you need to upgrade to a paid version.

To start creating a goal, click the “+ New Goal” button which is prominently displayed on the page.

You will then need to determine one of the following four types of goals explained below:

  1. Destination
  2. Duration
  3. Pages per session
  4. Event

Destination

This goal is based on a user reaching a specified URL on your website.

You might set this goal to track sales, downloads, subscriptions, account creations or contact form completions.

For an e-commerce website the obvious goals to track are sales of individual products.  If you wish to track e-commerce, then follow this more in-depth blog to understand how to do it.

Otherwise follow the simple format of entering confirmation page URL’s.  For example, if a user signs up to our newsletter we enter the URL of the confirmation page to track it as a goal completion.  We can then identify what page lead to users completing the goal and the source of traffic (e.g. Google Search or social media).

You do not need to include the full website URL, just the unique characters after your domain.  Select “Equals to”. You will rarely use the others.

Google Analytics Destination

Duration

This is a very simple goal to setup. It would usually be used to understand whether users are staying on a page to read detailed information or to check if specific pages are user friendly.

If you website contains detailed information and the purpose is for the user to read and understand the content, then setting a time limit will identify is users are staying on a page to read the information, or leaving straight away.

On the other hand, if you are trying to identify if a page is user friendly and you’ve created a page which is meant to explain something quickly and easily then the goal will identify if users are staying on the page for longer than you would expect them to complete their task.

Google Analytics Duration

Pages/Screens per Visits

This goal will identify how interested users are in your content on your website.

For a Government website with the purpose to explain information, setting this goal is useful to identify if users are interested in the information.  Setting a goal of 5 pages per visit usually indicates that

In business cases, many pages loaded suggest a high engagement level as well.  For example a user might land on your page due to a Google search.  If your website does not contain the information they require quickly and easily then the user will exit and look at the next website.

Setting a goal of 5 pages per visit identifies those users that may have been interested from your first page, read similar pages and then checked your About Us page.  In this situation a Destination goal such as Contact Us or newsletter sign-up would not have tracked the user, but this goal will identify that they were interested.

Google Analytics Pages per Visit

Event

You can track specific actions of a user which can be viewed as an Event.

This could include downloading a PDF or Word Document, playing a video or hitting an external link.

This is the more difficult of the goals to setup initially, but provides valuable information in the long term so it’s worth investing in the time and effort.  If you have limited experience with Google Analytics and coding, then it’s worth chatting to your web developer about how you can set it up.

In order to set up Events tracking, you need to set up events in your website code.  The SEO Weather website gives a great explanation to enable you to track anything on your website that requires a click.

When creating the event you will need to create a Category and an Action which can then be identified by Google Analytics by entering those terms into the fields below.

Google Analytics Event Tracking

Summary

I understand this isn’t a five minute job for each of these goal setups, but keeping an eye on your analytics leads to a healthier website.

These are the steps that I recommend:

  1. Think about what you want your website to do
  2. Identify how that translates into the four goal types above
  3. Implement the goals
  4. Track regularly

Have you implemented Goals on your own website? What have you used and has it helped your website? Let me know in the comments below.


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Comments

  1. Hi Jamie,

    It still boggles me how some big businesses, even medium / smaller businesses don’t go out of there way to make sure everything is being tracked on there website.

    Especially true if they are hiring a company to do online marketing for them, as the hell are they meant to measure ROI otherwise? Frustrates me!

    By the way the link in your events section is going to a 404 page. This might be a good replacement/addition to help people setting up event tracking http://www.seoweather.com/google-analytics-event-tracking-code-generator/.

    #trackeverything!

    • Thanks for the comment Jamie. I love tracking! And I love promoting tracking. Thanks for letting me know about the link. Fixed now and I have now subscribed to your newsletter. Look forward to receiving future info.

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