How, Why, And When To Set Up Goals In Google Analytics

set up goals in google analytics

As far as traffic and user behavior is concerned, Google Analytics is the only thing you need. Apart from being easy to use, Google is the largest and most dominant search engine. It is just right that you integrate it with your website and then get data from there.

Once you have the data, you can make informed business decisions, including setting up goals. These goals function as your benchmark. If you met your goal, it just tells you that your action plans are working.

But how do you do it? Today, I will provide you with an in-depth tutorial on how, why, and when to set up Google Analytics goals. By the end of this tutorial, you should find yourself equipped with the right foundation for using Google Goals.  

What is a goal in Google Analytics?

A goal is something that you create in your Google Analytics account that is integrated with your website. You use it to measure how often your website users are completing specific actions.

A goal is an objective. For example, you can set a goal about making a sale. Let us say that you want to meet a conversion rate of 5%. By the end of the month, your Google Analytics dashboard will show you whether or not this goal was met.

A goal is not just about conversions. Since you can also use Google Analytics for your app, you can use this to measure how many people completed a game level, made a purchase, downloaded and installed the game, and so much more.

You can also use the goal to measure how many leads you got, like how many people signed up in your subscription form or how many people made an inquiry in your contact form. By the end of the month or your target date, you will see if the goal was met.

You can also view the results any time you want—this should give you an idea of whether or not the action plans are working.

A goal is a defined objective. It is not as simple as “making big sales.” There has to be a number tied to it and a target date of achievement, which is reasonable. This is where the principle of SMART comes in.

SMART is an age-old acronym and method for setting goals. Below is what it means:

  • S – stands for Specific. Like I said earlier, a goal should not be generic. If you make a goal, it has to be defined in numbers. For example, you can say that you want to increase your revenue by 10% compared to last month. This is much better than saying you just want to have more sales.
  • M – this means Measurable. Can you measure your achievement? A good example of a goal is to increase traffic. Traffic is something that you can measure. If you cannot measure a goal, you also cannot be specific about it. One example of a goal that cannot be measured is to “become popular.”
  • A – this one stands for Attainable. What it means is that you should create a reasonable goal. You cannot have a goal like “make a million dollars” next week. Now, each business has a different situation. If you are already earning millions, then yes, it is justified to have this kind of goal. Attainability is so subjective, and only you can say whether or not a goal is reasonable.
  • R – this one means Relevant. What it means is that it must matter to your business. An increase in traffic is relevant to your business if you are operating a website. However, a goal where you want to be the best swimmer when your business is not about swimming is not relevant.
  • T – this stands for Time-Bound. What it means is that you should have a reasonable deadline. If you do not have a target date of completion, then there is no reason for you to feel the pressure. A time-bound goal is a goal you will work on; you will watch the days go by and force yourself and your team to achieve it.

If you do not define your goals, it is almost impossible to say whether your actions or effective or not. As you can see, goals and meeting them must be tied up with your actions. It is a cause-and-effect measurement. If you know what is causing something, you can correct the problem or continue doing the action if you are benefitting from it.

A goal requires a lot of thinking—you cannot just whip it out of the air. You need to take a long hard look at your business, its situation, and what the problems are. You also have to identify your priorities.

As you can see, a business does not have limitless resources. A business also does not have all the time in the world. If you are operating a business, you need to list your long-term goals, identify what really matters for now, and then create step-goals on how you will get there.

Why do you need to set-up goals on Google Analytics?

You need to set-up goals in Google Analytics to make things easier for you. Google has created a platform that is unparalleled in its effectiveness. Since you are already using Google Analytics, it is good to maximize its potential, especially so that it is free.

But more importantly, why should you have business goals at all? In this section, I want to focus our attention on why goals are important to any business.

1. Measure metrics

What are metrics?

Metrics are things that you can measure. All businesses have these, and they are sometimes called KPI or key performance indicators.

For example, a company may send surveys to its clients, and the goal is to have 95% satisfied clients for every 100 people surveyed. In this case, this key performance indicator is called CSAT or customer satisfaction score.  

Different businesses have different things to measure. Some are focused on sales, some are focused on traffic, and some on shipping times.

With Google Analytics, you can measure many aspects of your business, especially online aspects. Below are some examples of what you can measure:

  • Users – refers to the total number of unique individuals who landed on your site for your selected time period. This count is based on the IP address of the user. If a person visited your site twice, this counts only as one user.
  • Average Session Duration – is a measurement of the average length of time users spend on your site. The longer the duration, the better it is for your site. In Google’s eyes, a user who stays long is an indication that you are giving value. And if this happens, Google is more likely to show your content to its users.
  • New Users – this is the number of new users. If User A visited your site last month and visited again this month, he will no longer be counted as a new User. The more new users you have, the better exposure you are getting.
  • Sessions – a session is defined as a single duration where a user is engaged on your site. One session is shorter than 30 minutes. If you are getting many sessions, then it only means many people are going to your site.
  • Number of Sessions per User – this refers to the number of times a user engaged with your site within a 30-minute interval. For example, let us say that User A spent 30 minutes today and 30 minutes tomorrow. This means that User A has two sessions. A high number of sessions mean that your users are coming back to your site and that you are providing great content.
  • Pages per Session – this is the number of pages that a user viewed on your website. A site visitor who opens several pages in a session indicates that he likes your content. There really is no other reason for a person to open several of your pages if he does not like what he sees.
  • Pageviews – this is the number of pages that users viewed. A high number means that many people or many of your pages are getting exposure.  

One last metric you can measure in Google Analytics that I want to mention is bounce rate. A bounce refers to a customer closing a page—it has the same page where he entered. If a person entered your site on your home page and left there without visiting another page, it is considered a bounce.   

Generally speaking, you do not want a high bounce rate. You want users to visit other pages on your site, as it pretty much tells Google that you have great content. For some businesses, however, a high bounce rate does not matter.

2. Do root cause analysis

The second reason why you need to set-up goals in Google Analytics is that it allows you to do root cause analysis.

Root cause analysis is a process where you are trying to identify what is causing a problem. For example, let us say that you set-up a goal where you want to achieve a certain number of appointments. If your goal is to have 10 appointments from your site per month and only get five, you now know that this is a priority.

From here, you can investigate where your leads are coming from. For example, you can go to your Google Analytics dashboard and see where your traffic is coming from.

If you are a dentist in the United States, and most of your traffic is coming from India, you know why you are not getting a lot of appointments.

From there, you can analyze why your traffic is coming from India. Perhaps you are not using the right keywords. If so, and supposing that you are a local dentist in Denver, then maybe you should start using Denver-related keywords in your blog posts.

As such, you can rest assured that when people type keywords like “dentist in Denver,” your blog posts will show in the search engine results pages (SERPs). From there, you can expect more traffic from the US and, subsequently, more appointments.

3. Measure the effectiveness of actions

In blogging and in any online business, you want to achieve something. As such, you implement action plans.

For example, let us say that you want to increase your conversion rate by 5% by the end of the month. You believe that launching Google ads will help you achieve this goal.

So, you do it; you pay Google and launch your ad in the Google universe.

By the end of the month, you have to compare your conversion rate last month to the current end of the month. If the conversion increased by 5%, then it is likely that your ads were effective.

Now, this measurement of the effectiveness of your actions varies from one case to another. If you did not do anything but only to launch an advertisement, it is surely the contributing factor to your increase in sales. But if you had several action plans, you need to dig deeper and find out which one actually contributed.

4. Keeps you focused

A goal keeps you focused because you want to achieve it. If you look at sports competitors, their goal is to win. The long-term goal is to become a champion.

It is this goal that drives them to succeed in life. They take the time to exercise, do sparring, eat well, and healthy—all of these are known contributing factors in achieving a championship belt.

The goal is what keeps them focused. The same principle applies in business. Your goals will keep you focused on what you are doing, especially on things that matter to your business.

If your goal is to get a lot of traffic, then you will shift your focus to writing content for your site. We all know that the more content you publish, the more chances you get of getting noticed. If you have no time to write consistently, you have to consider hiring an affordable freelance writer.

5. Stay motivated

A goal keeps you motivated. Apart from being focused, you have a reason to keep working, which is achieving your dreams.

Every morning you wake up, you take a look at your goal, and you see how close you are to getting there. This is what keeps you on your toes. If you have no goal, you will merely wander in a sea of action plans, business noises, and then you will get lost.

6. Makes you a better leader

The last reason why you need a goal is that it makes you a better leader. This applies not only to your team but to yourself. If you are a solopreneur, you have to lead yourself.

A goal is what keeps a team together. If you have clear goals, you are telling your team that as a group, you have one direction and one target. This will make your employees work together to produce valuable content, serve customers better, and think of strategies to improve your business metrics.  

Goals are what separates a successful entrepreneur from an amateur. For example, let us say you want to successfully sell toys online. Know that you are not the only entrepreneur doing this. If you have no goals, you depend on the mercy of luck.

But if you do, you know what metrics to measure, know what to do, and know how to correct problems before they ruin your business. A goal is a necessary component of business that will help you succeed—and Google Analytics has made it easy for you to create and track them.

When should you set-up goals in Google Analytics?

Now that we have established why you need to set-up goals, we need to know when is the best time to do it.

The answer is “now”.

There is no better time than today to set-up goals in Google Analytics. I will help you with this set-up later on.

You might say, “but I only launched my website” or “my site is still incomplete.”

This is a special case, of course. The alternative to setting it up now is later, once you have already created a business plan.

Here are the benefits of setting up goals in Google Analytics now:

  • You can start seeing results immediately.
  • You will have a benchmark from which you can compare your performance later on.
  • You will eliminate the hassle of doing this at a later time.

You can get a bird’s eye view of what is happening in your business from here on. And if you know what is happening, you will also have the opportunity to do root cause analysis and fix the issues right away.

How do you set-up goals in Google Analytics?

Now, it is time to learn how to set-up goals in Google Analytics. Here, I will show the step by step process in doing so. Note that I will not show how to integrate Google Analytics with your website, but rather the steps only.

Step 1: Log in

Once you have logged in, click on the Admin button at the bottom left. From there, click on Goals at the far-right section, as shown below:

Step 2: Create a new goal

After step 1, you should see the screen below:

Click on the red New Goal button, and you will see this one:

Here, I will use Make an Appointment as a goal. Then, I will click on Continue at the bottom.

Step 3: Create a goal description

The next screen allows you to give a name to your goal. You can also select the type as shown below. Once you are done, just click on the Continue button.

Step 4: Finalize the goal

The last step is to input the URL of what you want Google to measure. In our case, the goal is to make an appointment, so I have put the scheduling URL. If it is a funnel or a conversion that you are measuring, just turn these buttons on.

See this screenshot:

Once you are done, just click Save.

Now, one question you may ask is, “what types of goals can I set up in Google Analytics? Well, there are several goals that you can choose from. Also, you are not limited to one goal. You can create many goals if you want to, especially if your website is a busy one.  

Here are the types of goals you can create:

  • Reservations – this is a goal where you measure how many people reserved a product from your site. It is also a goal used for businesses like hotels and restaurants where people want to make reservations.
  • Make a payment – this is a conversion goal. What it measures is the number of people who made a payment through your website’s payment channel. It cannot measure payments done outside your website. Use it if you are selling a service or a product online.
  • Make an appointment – this goal applies if you have a booking app on your site. This is great for professionals like dentists who expect clients to book an appointment. This works best if you have an appointment app, similar to a booking app for hotels and restaurants.
  • Become a partner – this goal measures how many people participated in your program. An example of a partnership program is affiliate marketing, where you want people to join your group and sell your products.  
  • View more – this one measures how many users viewed a page. This works great if you are offering several products or services. One thing you need to know is that you can only use one URL. A trick is to have Google measure all traffic from a specific domain folder on your site, like ABC.COM/products.
  • Contact us – use this if you want to target a high number of people who viewed your Contact Us page. Here, you have to input the destination URL of your Contact Us page. At the end of the month, you will see how many users clicked on that link—an indicator that people who come to our site are interested in dealing with you.
  • Get an estimate – this goal is a measurement of how many people want to get an estimate for your services. It works best for those who offer made-to-order products, those in the construction business, and others whose services do not have a fixed price.
  • See available – this one is similar to viewing other products or View More goal. However, it also works for businesses where the inventory is limited. Particularly, this is a goal used by large-scale manufacturers and suppliers. You can also use this if you are offering a service where the schedule is tight.
  • Find a location – if your business has several physical locations, this is a good goal to measure how many people are checking out where they can find you. I strongly recommend this to business owners who operate restaurants, chains of stores, and other businesses that have branches.
  • Media play – this one is a goal used to see how many people viewed your media. For example, let us say that you have a demo of your product in a video embedded on your website. You can use this goal to see how many people clicked on a link to view your product demo video.

You can also create a custom goal. If you do this, the Google Analytics platform will also ask you to name the goal and input the URL or destination.

Summary: How, Why, and When to Set Up Goals in Google Analytics

All businesses have goals. Even if you are just operating a blog, I am sure that you want to monetize it. If this is the case, then you have to establish goals in your Google Analytics account. The same applies if you are operating a dropshipping store if you want to build one.

A goal is what puts you on your feet. A goal achieved is a step forward in your business journey. A goal that is not achieved is a set-back. If you achieved your goal, it is time to focus on bigger things. If not, then you have to go back to the drawing board and analyze what went wrong.

Goals in Google Analytics are powerful. They help you understand how your customers and users behave. More importantly, they tell you whether your actions are bearing fruits or not. From there, you can change course or do a root cause analysis, and then solve these problems to make your business better.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography, and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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