How To Set Goals In Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a hugely powerful piece of software, and one of its greatest attributes is the ability to set and monitor goals. After all, web analytics serves no purpose if its findings aren’t acted on and improved upon to enhance a company’s overall performance.

Seeing the bigger picture

First off, it’s important to understand that goals involve more than maximizing site traffic. While visitor numbers are important, it’s the quality of those leads (and their actions on your site) that truly matter. This is why goals tend to revolve around activities such as new account creations, document downloads or newsletter signups.
Google Analytics goals might include identifying which URLs someone visited, how long they spent on a particular page or any events they undertook – such as any of the metrics noted above. Goals are set inside of the Admin section of the standard reports page, with bespoke titles identifying each one. It’s important to use unambiguous goal names (e.g. “attract 50 PDF downloads per month”), as this avoids confusion when studying the results.

Time is money

One of the easiest goals to measure is how long people stay on your site. This matters because every second of engagement exposes potential clients to key marketing messages, reinforcing your brand and industry know-how. Five minutes is a typical target, but this obviously depends on how much original and engaging content your site contains. If half your homepage traffic departs within 30 seconds of landing, something is obviously scaring people away.
By contrast, event goals are the hardest aspect of a site’s performance to measure. That’s because each event requires setting up, with the complexity determined by what action or interaction you’re aiming for. From social media button clicks to time spent watching an embedded video, Google Analytics is able to track just about everything. An Event Tracking Guide tool uses a snippet of JavaScript, meaning it can monitor everything from widgets to downloads. However, a goal is only recorded as being met if every component element is ticked off, so it’s vital to be unambiguous about what needs to happen.

Results may vary

Google Analytics isn’t for the fainthearted, and the goals functionality takes time to learn. However, few other tools are as effective at helping small businesses identify areas of improvement. That’s especially true considering the first 20 goals in a company’s profile are completely free of charge…

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