Google Analytics Goals, A Step-by-Step Guide

July 12, 2015

So, your Google Analytics is all set up to track how many page views and visits your website is receiving. You know where they came from, how much each traffic source is driving to your website, what part of your site they’re visiting, and how long they are staying on your site.


That’s great, your website has people going to it. But, what does that mean to your business?

If your website is an online asset that is created to drive revenue for your business, you need to make sure that these website visitors are actually providing value.

But, how do you know if they actually are? By setting up Google Analytics Goals.

Google Analytics Goals is a website visitor tracking method where you can set different criterias on your website for each type of action your website visitors make. Depending on your business objectives, important metrics like these:

  • Registration
  • Leads
  • Trial signups
  • Downloads
  • Newsletter signups

Will help you understand whether or not your website is actually providing the proper ROI for your business.

How to create Google Analytics Goals

Step 1: Choose either custom goals or templated goals

Create a new goal by going into your Google Analytics account > Go to Admin > Choose the property > Under view choose Goals > Then click +New Goal.

You then have 2 options in creating your goal: using a goal template or a custom goal.

Option #1: Goal from a template

After following the steps above, choose a template from the list then click next step to continue setting up your goal. These goal templates were developed to help you set actionable goals that meet standard business objectives. Before saving a goal you are able to edit any field in the template. Revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement, are the larger business objectives that guide the goal templates.

These goal categories can be used as an organizational tool to help you think about the process of your goals. A best practice is to create a goal for each category to effectively understand how your website visitor interact with your content. Keep in mind though that goal templates are only available if you have chosen an industry because each goal template is based off of the industry you choose.

Option #2: Creating custom goals

Follow the steps above then select custom from the list of options, click next step, then select a Goal Type (which we will go over in Step 3), click next step then continue on setting up your goal.

Step 2: Configure your Google Analytics Goals name and slot ID

Make sure to create a name for each of your goals. This will help you distinguish each goal from one another, and will help make your goal conversion reports easily to understand. Slot IDs numbers are assigned for each goal that is created.

You can have a maximum of 20 goal slots grouped into sets of up to 5 individual goals. This allows you to categorize the different types of goals you have on your site.

Step 3: Choose your goal type

When you create a custom report you need to choose a goal type that best fits the action you need to track. Unlike, templates where the best fit is suggest to you. There are 4 goal types:

  • Destination goals
  • Duration goals
  • Event goal details
  • Pages/Screens per session goals

Destination goals

Choose destination goals if you want to treat a page view or a screen view as a conversion. In the destination field, enter the screen name or page URL. Specify the match type as equals to, begins with, or regular expression.

If you choose to turn on the funnel option, this refers to the path your users take to reach a particular destination. You are able to specify the screens or pages the user must visit in order for their action of landing on the final destination to be treated as a goal completion.
Duration goals

Use this goal to track how many people stay on your site for a given period of time. You can set the goal to track every visit that is below a certain amount of time. The steps to set up this goal type is pretty straight forward, so make sure to just follow along with the prompts.


Under condition, decide whether you want a goal to activate on any visit that last more or less than the hours, minutes, and seconds you have allotted (most sites use 5 minutes) . For example: if you are measuring whether or not your FAQ section is effective, you’ll want to choose “less than,” and if you want to know whether or not your page is engaging, you’ll want to choose “greater than.”

How Google Analytics tracks visits duration is not an exact science. You’ll be able to tell that Google Analytics doesn’t really know when visitors leave your site, only when a page loads. Each time someone views a page, the Google Analytics Tracking Code sends a timestamp to the Google Analytics servers.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use this visit duration data, you should just assume that the time on site metric is very different from how long people actually spend on your site. However, you can still gain valuable insights by comparing the metric over time.

Event goal details

Before using event goals, you must first set up events (learn more about how to set up events in this Google Analytics help article). Assuming that you have already set up your events, you can easily select an event as a goal. In order for an event to be tracked you have to add a bit of JavaScript to the element that you want to track. This will tell Google Analytics that an event has occurred each time a visitor interacts with that element.

You can use the event goal type to track:

  • Downloads
  • Social media buttons
  • Widgets
  • External links
  • Time spent watching videos

Any element that your visitors interact with can be tracked with events.

Pages/Screens per session goals

This goal type is easy to setup, similar to the the duration goals. This goal tracks the number of pages each visitor sees before they leave. Users who visit more than one page in one session will be tracked as a conversion.

Under condition you have three choices: “greater than”, “equal to”, or “less than.” Similar to duration, if you are measuring engagement, pick “greater than.” Under number of pages visited, choose the number of pages you want to activate as an conversion.


Step 4: Assign values to your Google Analytics Goals

For each of the goal types listed above you are prompted to input a value for each goal. In this step, you will assign a monetary value to a goal.

This provides you the opportunity to compare conversions and measure changes or improvements to your site. When setting up an event goal or a goal that involves Ecommerce, there are special considerations.

Values for event goals:

  • If you are using the event value as the goal value, this will be what you defined in your event tracking code as the value. If you haven’t defined an event value, the goal value will be empty.
  • If you are using a goal value, keep the goal value option to NO in the setup, and manually set the value.

Value for goals for Ecommerce:

When using the Ecommerce Tracking code to track a transaction or purchase, leave the goal value blank. The value of the transaction will appear in the revenue metric, not the goal value metric, and will come from the shopping cart.

Step 5: Verify your Google Analytics Goals

In this step, you will need to verify your goal. This will calculate a conversion rate based on your data from the past 7 days, and not actual conversion data. Don’t use this as a projection to note how well your goal will perform.

Step 6: Record your goals

Once you’re done setting up your goals make sure you have turned on recording your goals. However, you can choose to pause a goal but turning switching recording to OFF. If it’s off, no data will be collected.


Step 7: Check if your website is achieving its Google Analytics Goals

This step will validate whether or not your website is achieving its goals, as well as verify if the Google Analytics Goals you’ve set up is working. Under reporting > then conversions you can find different reports that will provide you insight into your goal conversions. Use the data in these reports to report on how well (or how bad) your site is performing, as well as improving your website’s conversions through conversion optimization tactics.


What we’re trying to say is…

If you are just getting started, you can easily get confused. But, once you have your goals set up, proving the worth of your website visitors will be easy. There is a lot of great data waiting for you to analyze and when done right, you can use that information to lead content strategies, business objectives, and website improvements. So go on, get started on achieving your goals!

Have you used Google Analytics Goals before? Tell us in the comments below.

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