Goals In Google Analytics: How To Get Them Right

Goals Google Analytics Cover
Ravi Davda Rockstar Marketing CEO

Written by Ravi

May 23, 2023

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Setting goals and tracking your progress as you work towards achieving them is crucial in any endeavour in life, but it’s especially important when you advertise online. After all, if you’re not tracking your progress to understand what’s working and what isn’t, you might as well be throwing money down the drain.

Thankfully, most digital marketing tools offer analytics and tracking features, but Google goes the extra mile with its Goals in Google Analytics.

So, what is this feature? Is it worth it? And how can you start using it?

We’ll answer all of that and more in this guide!

First, what are Goals in Google Analytics?

Think of using Google Analytics Goals like having your own scoreboard. That’s because they track user actions on your site and measure how well you’re hitting those targets you’ve set, therefore giving you insights into your website’s performance.

Are you making bank? Is your site a lean, mean, conversion machine? Are your marketing efforts paying off?

Goals can answer all these questions and more.

“But doesn’t Google Analytics already track plenty of data, like page views and where the users came from, by default?”

Well, yes. But when you think about it, all of that information is meaningless if you don’t know if your users have completed what you wanted them to do. For example, make a purchase, read a post on your blog, or subscribe to your newsletter. You need something that can mark specific sessions as successful visits, and that’s what Goals do.

PS: Remember, time waits for no one. It’s crucial to implement Goals and conversions in your Google Analytics setup pronto.


Simply because Goals can’t be applied to historical data, and only new user sessions are eligible for conversion tracking. Don’t let those precious insights slip away!

Why Goals in Google Analytics are important

Sure, you can still get some valuable insights from Google Analytics about the use of your website without setting Goals. But those insights will probably just lead to questions about how those results positively or negatively impact your business’s success. By setting Goals, you can track specific actions on your website that lead to conversions and see how they impact your bottom line.

So, whether you’re running an e-commerce site (hello, purchases), a content site (sign-ups, anyone?), an educational knowledge base (did that article help?), or something completely out-of-the-box, Google Analytics Goals have got you covered.

Need some examples of how Google Analytics Goals can help your business?

Boost sales like a pro

Say you run an online store selling organic skincare products. By setting up goals in Google Analytics, you can track how many visitors add products to their cart, complete a purchase, and even pinpoint which pages on your website are driving the most sales. Armed with this information, you can make strategic tweaks to your website design, product offerings, and marketing campaigns to boost your sales like a pro.

Find your future customers

As a small business owner, generating leads is crucial to your success. By setting up goals in Google Analytics, you can track how many visitors fill out a contact form or download a free guide on your website. This will help you identify which marketing channels are bringing in the most qualified leads and make data-driven decisions to attract even more of your ideal customers.

Engage your audience

Creating quality content is a powerful way to attract and retain customers. With Google Analytics goals, you can track how many visitors read your blog, watch your videos, or download your e-book. That will help you see what type of content resonates with your audience and give you ideas for future content that will keep them engaged and coming back for more.

How to choose which Goals to track

Using this feature in Google Analytics starts with deciding which Goals to create and which ones, well, not to create. Tracking irrelevant website actions as Goals can be as detrimental as not tracking Goals at all since you’d be focusing on the wrong metrics and making the wrong kinds of improvements and changes to your campaigns. That’s why it’s essential to invest enough time and energy to get the balance right.

So, how do you choose which Goals to track?

Simple (not), follow these steps:

Start by defining your macro Goals in Google Analytics

These are the big-picture Goals that you want to achieve.

Here, it’s essential to understand that Google Analytics makes it possible to create Goals for virtually every action a visitor takes on your site. But instead of setting up every possible Goal, you should focus on the conversions that matter most to your business. Your Google Analytics macro Goals should reflect your business’s overall objectives, so determining what’s most important is essential before you create them.

So, ask yourself, “what are the main actions on pages that support these objectives?”

Do you want to generate contact form submissions? Get prospects to book phone calls with your sales team? Generate more sales? Gather more leads? Or is it something else?

Answering this question should steer you in the right direction of identifying the most relevant website Goals.

Define your micro Goals in Google Analytics

Once you’ve identified your macro Goals, it’s time to identify the micro Goals.

Micro conversions are user actions that fall into one of two categories:

  • necessary actions to actually complete the macro Goal (like adding a product to the cart before purchasing)
  • indicative actions of a user’s progression through your funnel (like whitepaper downloads during the consideration stage)

The necessary action should be easy to define, while the softer indicative actions might require some testing and adjusting.

So, after you’ve created your higher-level (aka macro) Goals, you can work backward to determine the steps that lead to those conversions. Remember, although you may not think of users browsing and interacting with your site as conversions, these Goals are absolutely necessary for getting an accurate understanding of visitor behaviour.

Feeling confused? Here are some examples to simplify things

Let’s take a look at some examples of macro and micro Goals for different types of businesses:

  • eCommerce Site:
    • Macro Goal – Purchases
    • Micro Goals – Product Page View, Add to Cart, Checkout Page
  • Lead Gen Site:
    • Macro Goal – Leads
    • Micro Goals – Mailto Link Click, Form Page View, Form Started
  • Affiliate Site:
    • Macro Goal – Purchases
    • Micro Goals – Time on Site Above X, Link Clicked
  • Publisher Site:
    • Macro Goal – No. of Pages Visited Above X
    • Micro Goals – No. of Pages Visited Above Y

How to set up Goals in Google Analytics

Step 1: Locate your Goals dashboard

1. Fire up your GA dashboard

2. Open the Admin panel

Open Admin panel to use Goals in Google Analytics

3. Click on “Goals”

3. Click on “Goals.”

Step 2: Create a new Goal

1. Next, click the “+ New Goal” button

1. Next, click the “+ New Goal” button. to use Goals in Google Analytics

It’s time to welcome a new Goal into the world!

Step 3: Choose your Goal option

Now, you’ll be presented with a tasty menu of Goal-setting options. You’ve got three scrumptious choices:

Goal templates

Goals in Google Analytics: Templates

If you’re just starting out, Goal templates are like training wheels. They’ll help you set up common objectives like Revenue, Acquisition, Inquiry, and Engagement.

To be honest, the only thing a template actually does is give a name to your Goal, so don’t bother with using one. Instead, we’re going to go with a Custom Goal.

Smart Goals

Designed for Google Ads users, Smart Goals use Google’s data to correlate micro metrics with high user intent. However, the analytics community isn’t a huge fan. They’re often seen as useless or misleading.

So, are they?

Well, this is no simple yes or no question.

As João Correia, Solutions Director at Igloo Analytics, says: “Don’t use the Smart Goals feature; it’s just another way for Google to claim credit for AdWords.”

So, yes, maybe you should steer away from Smart Goals.

Custom Goals

Feeling more adventurous?

Custom Goals are your ticket to Goal-setting freedom.

For the rest of this guide, we’ll use custom Goals as our shining example, so choose Custom, click on Continue, and name your Goal.

PS: you can set up 20 Goals per view and create four sets of Goals. Usually, this is plenty, but if you need more, consider separating different business Goals into distinct Google Analytics views.

Step 4: Set your custom Goal

In our examples, we’ll stick with custom Goals for their versatility.

There are four types of custom Goals you can create:

  • Destination Goals
  • Duration Goals
  • Event Goals
  • Pages/Screens per Session Goals
There are four types of custom Goals you can create:

Let’s explore each of the four Goal types in detail, starting with the crowd favourite: destination Goals.

Destination Goals

Goals in Google Analytics: Destination Goals

Destination Goals track visits to specific URLs. When a user lands on a certain page, it triggers the Goal and gets marked as a conversion.

This type is ideal for:

  • Purchase confirmation pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Pages at the end of a funnel

Get creative with thank you pages to track multiple funnels that need conversion tracking.

Duration Goals

Goals in Google Analytics: Duration Goals

Duration Goals measure how long users stay on your site.

For example, if an article takes an average of five minutes to read, set up a Goal that triggers when a reader hits that mark.

Use duration Goals to:

  • Identify your best and worst-performing pages
  • Optimise your website for better user engagement

Event Goals

Goals in Google Analytics: Event Goals

Event Goals offer the most customisation, but they require a bit more setup.

Once you’ve created the necessary events, you can track any website element, like buttons, links, or widget actions.

Pages/Screens per Session Goals

Goals in Google Analytics: Pages/Screens per Session Goals

Pages/Screens per session Goals monitor how many pages a visitor views before leaving your site.

These Goals are great for:

  • Measuring the success of internal linking
  • Identifying the ideal number of page views for generating sales or leads

Step 5 (optional): If you’re running an online store, add values to your Goals

Want to make tracking your website’s profitability a breeze?

Add values to your Google Analytics Goals!

To do that, you’ll first need to figure out the value of specific events or pages.

For example, you can try to answer the question, “How much is a page view worth to your business?”

To find out, try averaging how many page views are needed for a single purchase from your online store.

For online stores, you can set Goal values with e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics, which tracks purchase transaction values.

Adding definite or relative values to pages helps you understand which content produces the best results. This information is like a treasure map, guiding you toward the type of content you should create in your content marketing strategy.

Need help with Google Ads?

Using Google Analytics to analyse and optimise your paid advertising efforts is no small feat, especially if you need to focus on providing top-notch services to your clients. Worry not, though, as we’re here to help. Just book a discovery call with us today, and we’ll show you how we can use GA and Google Ads to take your lead and sales generation efforts to the next level.

Goals in Google Analytics – FAQs

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