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Setting Up Goals in Google Analytics

Setting up Goals

Learn how to set up goals in Google Analytics in this free video from Matthew Edgar at Elementive. Another video I made addresses how to review the goal reports in Google Analytics. You can also check out my article about viewing goals by source.


In this video, let’s talk about how we set up goals in Google Analytics. The first question is what are goals? A goal is a way that you can measure how many people who visited your website complete a key action. A goal is sometimes referred to as a conversion, because typically, goals are used to measure how many people come to the website and complete some kind of action that is critical to the overall success of the business. That might be how many people came to the website and completed a lead form? How many people came to a website and ordered a product or downloaded a key resource?

In Google Analytics, to begin setting up a goal, we wanna go to the admin area, so once in Google Analytics, go to the sidebar, and at the bottom of the sidebar, click on admin. Once you’re on the admin screen, you’ll see three different areas. The first area is account. Everything in Google Analytics rolls up into an account, which, typically, an account is the organization or department that controls the different websites or apps. The next layer or structure within Google Analytics is property. A website or an app, those are properties in Google Analytics, and then, below the property level is the view level, and it’s at the view level that you can actually look at your different reports. It’s also at the view level that we can define goals, so under the view section, go ahead and click on the word that says goals, and this will take you to the goals screen.

On the goals screen, we wanna create a new goal, so click on the new goal button. This will take you to the goal setup page. The first step of setting up a goal is deciding if you wanna use a template goal or a custom goal. I encourage you to go through and look at all the different template goals that Google Analytics offers. They can really make it simpler when you’re setting up a goal, as they offer lots of different options that come up over and over again on many different kinds of websites. In our case, to more clearly explain how goals work and how you set up a goal, I’m going to choose a custom goal. Once you’ve clicked on continue, you’ll be taken to the next step, which is describing the goal. The first thing we need to do here is give our goal a name. Let’s say that we wanna track how many people completed our contact form, so we’ll give this goal the name of Contact Us. After giving your goal a name, you then want to decide what type of goal this is.

There are four types of goals in Google Analytics.

  • The first type of goal is a destination goal, which measures how many people reached a particular page.
  • The next type of goal is a duration goal, where you can measure if people spent a certain desirable length of time when visiting your website.
  • Next, you have pages or screens per session, and this is where people look at a certain number of pages or screens, so if it’s important to you that people look at at least three pages during their visit, you could set that up as a goal.
  • The last type of goal that Google Analytics offers is an event based goal. An even based goal lets you use event tracking and goals together to measure how people are interacting with your website. I’m not going to cover those in too much depth here, but we have other resources at Elementive that discuss events and event-based goals in more detail.

In this case, we’re going to choose a destination based goal. Select destination, then click continue. The last step of setting up a goal is providing the details about what it is that you actually wanna track. Since we’ve selected destination goal, what we need to define here is the destination, or the page that we want to know if people reached. After people fill out our contact form, they’re taken to our thank you page. To track, then, how many people reached that thank you page, and how many people have completed that form, we can enter in the thank you page URL. Once that’s in there, click on save. Now your goal is set up and running.

It’s important to know that your goals will start tracking from the day you set them up on forward. You cannot get retroactive data in Google Analytics, so I encourage you to set up your goals as soon as possible. That way, you can start capturing all of that information about what your users are doing when they visit your website.

If you have other questions about Google Analytics or optimizing your website, please contact me. To learn more about goals and other parts of Google Analytics, check out more of our analytics tips and tricks.