How to setup Goals in Google Analytics

Goals in Google Analytics allow you to track how many of your sites visitors perform a particular action, such as submitting an enquiry form or purchasing a product online.

NOTE: In order to set up goals you will need Admin level Google Analytics access. If you follow the next steps and don’t see “Goals” as an option, you’ll need to contact your account administrator to kindly elevate your access level.

Define Your Goal

Before we move on, you’ll need to define what your goal is. If you are running a lead generation site, a goal will be a successful enquiry submission. If you are trying to build up a mailing list your goal will be a successful email submission.

If you are running an ecommerce website, you get special Google Analytics treatment, with all data being tracked in a separate powerful ecommerce section. You can find out more information here.

Create Your Goal

Step 1

  1. Login to your Analytics account via:
  2. Select “Admin” then “Goals”

  3. Select “Create Goal”

Types of goals

Google Analytics can track four different types of goals:

  • Destination: triggered when a set URL is navigated to, e.g. a thank you page (this is the most important goal to measure for maximising ROI)
  • Duration: based on the amount of time spent on a site. These goals are useful for websites such as blogs or new sites where the aim is to increase the amount of time a user engages with the content.
  • Pages/Screens Per Visit: similar to duration, these goals are important for content based websites
  • Event: a very versatile format that allows you to track events such as as video plays and downloads. This can be useful if you feel it’s important for visitors to watch a certain video or download a PDF.

Step 2

For this example we will be tracking a confirmed mailing list signup using a Destination based goal.

  1. Give your goal a memorable name. If you plan on having multiple goals it’s important to give a clearly identifiable name.
  2. Select “Destination” under goal type
  3. Click Next step
  4. There are three URL options to select under “Destination”
    • Equals to: matches your URL exactly as you list it
    • Head match: matches the first part of the URL and allows for a dynamically generated suffix e.g. /thanks.cgi?default=3874id=123 (the URL in red would be the goal used)
    • Regular expression: control tracking based on a URL meeting specifically set conditions
  5. Navigate to your thank you page which is shown after you complete a successful signup. If you do not have a thank you page it’s essential you create one as this will ensure tracking for all analytics programs is easy to setup. If your URL doesn’t have extra characters/numbers you are fine to use “Equals to”.
  6. Add the part of your destination URL after your root domain. E.g. if your full URL is you will only need to add “/thank-you”
    IMPORTANT: you must ensure each forward slash (/) is added correctly when using ‘equals to’ as a goal type. Such as /thank-you/ vs /thank-you – otherwise the goal will not track.
  7. Select “Create Goal”.
  8. That’s it! Your goal will now start tracking.

Optional Settings

Value: If you have calculated an accurate average dollar value for new leads or subscribers, you can switch on ‘Value’ and add the amount in. You can then later analyse which traffic sources are the most profitable.

Funnel: Google Analytics has the ability to track goal paths using Funnels. This is particularly useful for ecommerce sites whereby you can monitor each stage of the checkout process to see where customers are dropping off. E.g. If a large proportion of customers leave after adding products to the cart you could consider providing a coupon in exchange for an email address, which you can then use for an abandonment email marketing campaign.

Once you have setup Goal tracking in Google Analytics you will be able to identify which sources are driving the highest value traffic and what your visitors are doing before converting. You can then use this data to improve your conversion rate as well as to allocate your budget to profitable campaigns (while avoiding campaigns with a poor return).

Mark Patchett

Mark Patchett

CRO Producer at Web Profits

Mark Patchett is an Ecommerce focused CRO Producer. His relentless focus on driving optimised traffic to Ecommerce sites has helped countless Ecommerce website owners increase sales and achieve considerable success online.