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How to Set Up Conversion Goals in Google Analytics

By Greg Cargopoulos

When it comes to running a successful SEO campaign (and a lucrative company), there are few things more important than tracking your results. Fortunately, for people who want to shine on the search engines, and attract as many potential customers as possible, there's a fantastic solution available in the form of Google Analytics.

As the most popular analytical tool on the market, Google Analytics features everything from real-time reports on how many people are viewing your website, to insights into the kind of audience you attract. However, the question for most companies is, "How can I use Google Analytics to track my conversions?"

What are Conversion Goals in Google Analytics

Goal/Conversions offer some of the best insights available into your digital performance, by highlighting how well your site performs in a specific area. For instance, according to Google, Your Goals will determine how effective your or website is in meeting your targets.

You can use goal/conversions to track:

Why Use Conversion Goalin Google Analytics?

Establishing goals will help you to compare and measure metrics that have a direct impact on your business outcomes. As valuable as it is to look at things like bounce rate, average session duration and so on, the most critical metric will always be your conversions, because they have an impact on your bottom line. Goal conversions in Google analytics:

  • Make it easier to track specific parts of your marketing campaigns so that you can make informed decisions about your future.
  • Improve your insight into important information like where your customers come from, which pages they visit, and how long they spend on your page.
  • Allow you to create in-depth reports on your conversion rates and opportunities and determine your ROI for advertising campaigns.

So, how do you track goal conversions in Google analytics?

Set up a Goal in Google Analytics and Choose it's 'Type'

First, sign into your Google Analytics account and choose the "Admin" account at the top of the screen. You'll see a column that says "View," select it, and choose the + New Goal button at the top of the table.

After you click the New Goal button, Google will ask you if you want to create a custom goal or load a new template. Typically, you'll want to create a custom goal, as it's more useful for customization. Remember to name your goal conversions in Google analytics something that makes them easier to track, like "Completed Landing Page" or "Blog CTA click-through."

You'll also need to choose the "type" of goal you want to track. There are four options:

  • Destination: This goal triggers when someone lands on a specific page on your website. For instance, when someone visits the "Thank You" page after completing a form.
  • Duration: This goal occurs when a user spends a specific length of time on your site.
  • Screens/Pages per session: You can track this goal when a specific number of pages are visited by a user.
  • Event: Event goals are recorded when specific actions occur. For instance, this could include a button click, video play, or social share.

Here's a deeper insight into how and when you should use each goal.

Destination Conversion Goals

Destination goals are some of the most popular goal conversions in Google analytics. Every time someone visits a specific page on your site, Google tracks that visit. Most of the time, companies use destination goals to track their number of resource downloads, newsletter signups, or form completions by directing users to a "Thank you" page after conversion.

How to Use a Destination Goal

After you name your conversion goal and choose "Destination," you'll need to fill out the following details: destination, value, and funnel.

The destination field is where you can specify pages that will identify a completed goal. You'll need to enter the URL of the page that you want to track. If you're not sure what your destination goal slug is, you can go to your site, complete your goal, and check the URL here. If you only want to use one URL, then all you need to do is enter a single slug. If the URL changes every time, you'll need to change the goal's match type.

With your destination set, you can assign a value to the goal. For instance, you might decide that every lead is worth $15 to your company. Enter this as the value so you can measure your ROI for each conversion.

The final option for your destination goal is to create a funnel or a series of pages that your user will explore before they get to your conversion point. You can find some more data on funnels at Google's support center.

Duration Conversion Goal

Duration goals trigger whenever a user's session lasts longer than a specific period. This option isn't as common or popular as a destination goal. However, it can be useful if you want to find out how "engaged" your customers are with your content. If you're a publication looking for happy users, or you want to make sure that people aren't spending too much time looking for support, you can calculate your average session duration.

How to Use Duration Goals

Once you've given your goal a descriptive name, and you've selected the "duration" option as your goal type, you won't have to fill in much data for this conversion option. All you need is the "duration" and the "value."

The duration is where you'll specify how long a user should be on your page before Google tracks them as being "converted." Again, the value simply dictates how much that length of time is worth to your business.

Pages/Screens per Session Conversion Goal

Sometimes, you want to make sure that your visitors aren't just coming to your website then immediately clicking the back button and heading elsewhere. That's when you need the Pages/Screens per session goals. These conversions occur when visitors come to more than your chosen number of screens or pages in a single session. Similarly to a duration goal, this option is best used by publishers measuring whether readers are interested in more than just one of their stories.

How to Use a Pages/Screens per Session Goal

The Pages/Screens per session goal works similarly to the duration goal, and once again you'll only need to enter two values - the financial impact of the conversion, and the number of pages you want each visitor to look at.

Once you've entered a value into the field for pages/screens per session, only the sessions where visitors are planning to visit more than the pre-entered value will trigger your conversion tracking. Once again, you can set a specific value for how much an engaged customer is worth to you, then click "Save" to set your goal.

Event Conversion Goals

Finally, event goals are what happens when a specific event occurs on a page.

An "event" on your website can cover practically anything depending on how you choose to implement them. For instance, you can track forms that don't necessarily redirect your visitors to another page, or they can tell you how often someone clicks on a button, views a video, or does something else significant on your site.

Google Analytics events are versatile concepts, but they can get a bit complicated, so it's a good idea to check out Google's Guide to Events before you get started. This report from Google will cover everything you need to know about the event category.

How to Use Event Goals

As with any goal conversion in Google Analytics, you'll need to choose a descriptive name for your goal and determine where you want to implement the tracking conditions. If you know exactly which event you want to use as your goal, you can add the action, category, value, and label to the event conditions field offered by Google.

Importantly, if you're a little uncertain about some of these details, it's worth acknowledging that you don't need to fill out every field. Google Analytics will only track the events that match every field you complete as a goal.

How to Track Your Conversion Goalin Google Analytics

Finally, with your type of goal set up, and your details entered, all that's left is to track the performance of your goals. You can do this by signing into your Google Analytics account and going to Conversions > Goals > Overview.

From the dropdown list, select your Goal type, and you'll be able to view things like your Goal conversion rate, Goal completions, abandonment rate, and so on.

Finishing Thoughts

Setting up goals allows you to figure out how much each channel or page contributes to your bottom line, which makes it easier to determine the ROI for each campaign. When you're trying to make sure that your ROI is up to scratch, there are few things more important than a reliable goal conversion strategy in Google analytics.

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Greg Cargopoulos

Greg Cargopoulos