Deciding Which Google Analytics Goals You Should Create

Google Analytics Goals

Google Analytics, the number one tool in the market for digital analytics comes with a pretty decent plug-and-play feature set. Nevertheless, it is still highly recommended to customize it to make it track what’s really important in your business’ context. One of the key features you should configure right away is Google Analytics Goals.

Google limits you to have 20 goals per view. Is it too little or just enough? What actions should be tracked as goals in Google Analytics? These answers will find an answer in this article.

What should you know about Google Analytics goals?

To put it very short: goals let you measure how often users complete specific actions on your website.

Goals are configured at the view level

This means that for every view in your Google Analytics property, you can have different goals.

  • When creating a new goal, always consider whether you should add it for some other view as well.
  • When having problems with 20 goal limit, you can just create a new view.
  • Views in can be duplicated, that way you don’t have to manually copy the goals.

Goals don’t work retroactively

Goals apply to the data you collect after the goal has been created. In other words, you must set up goals in your Analytics account before data appears in your goal reports and any other report that provides data on goals and goal Conversions.

  • Configure the goals as early as possible.
  • When creating a new view, make sure it has all the necessary goals.

Goals can’t be deleted

Exactly, once you create a new goal you can’t delete it. What you can do, is make disable it by turning recording off. You may, however, change the goal to track something totally different by making changes to goal setup. If you do so, please make a note about it, so you’d know since when did the goal change. A perfect solution for taking such notes is Google Analytics Annotations.

Four type of goals

In Google Analytics, you can choose between four types of goals. Here’s a table that gives an overview of each of them.

For most websites, Destination is the most used type followed by Event.

Goal Type Description Example
Destination A specific location loads Thank you for registering! web page or app screen
Duration Sessions that lasts a specific amount of time or longer 10 minutes or longer spent on a support site
Pages/Screens per session A user views a specific number of pages or screens 5 pages or screens have been loaded
Event An action defined as an Event is triggered Social recommendation, video play, ad click

Which actions should be tracked as goals?

By taking a look at the table above, you should have an overview of what could be tracked as a goal in Google Analytics. But as there is a 20 goal limit, just because you can doesn’t mean you should track something. In general, you’d only want the actions you really care about to be tracked as goals.

Purchases

Selling something online? A purchase is probably the most desired action your user could take. It should definitely be tracked as a Google Analytics Goal!

You might say: “Yeah, but I have e-commerce tracking enabled.”. True, e-commerce tracking does show you the number of transactions but it is always good to have a backup (especially when it’s your most important action). Besides, some reports are better to build using the Google Analytics Goal (not e-commerce conversion) and with goals, it’s super easy to build a funnel like this:

  1. Product page visit
  2. Cart Visit
  3. Checkout step 1 visit
  4. Checkout step 2 visit
  5. Successful transaction
Example of a Purchase Goal Funnel
Example of a Purchase Goal Funnel

In most cases, a purchase is being tracked using a page view of a thank you page. This page should only be available after a successful purchase and visitors should see it only once!

Multiple funnels

Sometimes it’s a good idea to duplicate a goal (the final action is the same) to have multiple different funnels. I.e. you might have different checkout steps for those using Paypal etc.

New user registration

A user that’s willing to sign up on your website is definitely interested in what you’re offering. Tracking such users is absolutely a must and Google Analytics Goals offers a perfect option for doing so.

This goal is usually set up using page visit of a new user welcome screen that is shown after a successful signup.

Depending on your website’s setup, there might also be a funnel similar to this one:

  1. Register step 1
  2. Register step 2
  3. Register successful

Newsletter subscriptions

Much like willing to register as a user, subscribing to a newsletter is a clear indicator of an interest in what you offer. This should be tracked as a goal.

Depending on your setup, it could be set up as a destination (visits of successful signup page) or in case you are using an in-line signup, a custom event.

Usually, this goal does not have a funnel.

Form submits

No matter if the form is about getting a quote or asking for details, you probably care about it. Tracking successful form submits is a part of a good Google Analytics setup.

In most cases, such goal will not have a funnel and is being set up either using a destination page view or a custom event (dynamic forms).

Tracking comments

Comments are a clear sign of engagement and you probably want more of them. Track them as a goal in Google Analytics.

Some forms that should definitely be tracked:

  • Get a quote form
  • New comment
  • Request a callback
  • Submitting a review

Session duration

Depending on what type of website you have, this goal might be quite important for you. Especially if you run a content website such as a blog.

For example, you might set yourself a goal to get more people to spend at least 10 minutes on your site. Track such visitors using a goal.

On the other hand, you might track those who spend on your support site more than 15 minutes and count it as a negative goal, because probably what they are looking for is not clear enough.

Conclusion

Google Analytics Goals is a powerful feature that everyone working with websites should be aware of. They are rather easy to set up but can provide you with a lot of new insights of what’s happening on your website.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though:

  • All the major actions should be tracked using goals
  • There’s a 20 goals per view limit
  • Goals do not work retroactively
  • Goals can’t be deleted

If we missed an important goal that applies to most websites, or should you have some other thoughts, let us know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Deciding Which Google Analytics Goals You Should Create

  1. Pingback: Most common Google Analytics issues (in-depth overview) - Reflective Data
  2. Pingback: Tracking Common User Actions Using Google Analytics Goals - Reflective Data
  3. Guess I’ve been using GA for at least 4 years now and never really know how/why to make new goals. Thanks man

  4. Pingback: Must Have Google Analytics Goals – RDAR #9 - Reflective Data

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