What is a goal in web analytics?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - goal

A goal is a desired visitor action on your website and can be quite strategic and high level, for example, to sell more items, create happy customers or improve marketing effectiveness.

Your goal should be to get a visitor to participate in some action item on your website. Google Analytics allows you to create up to 20 conversion goals per profile. Goals are really page views: you essentially tell Google to record every time someone views a particular page or completes a specific action. Calls to action such as the following examples are an effective way to engage your visitors and encourage website interaction:

  • Complete the contact form
  • Download a brochure
  • Sign up to the newsletter

There are three types of goals:

  1. URL destination
  2. Time on site
  3. Pages per visit

Consider the ‘download a brochure’ goal from the list above as a working example. Think about the user experience involved in this process:

  • A visitor goes to your website and decides to download a specific brochure.
  • When they click on the button to download the brochure, a lightbox appears.
  • Once they fill in their first name and email address and hit ‘proceed’ this event is tracked in Google.
  • The visitor can now download the brochure and, in turn, you have obtained the visitor’s email address and have registered the download.

This is an example of an effective call to action which provides the digital marketer with valuable data and also gives the visitor what they want.

You may be familiar with KPIs (key performance indicators) which serve as a measurement of performance. They are typically used to refer to long-term organisation goals. Think of conversion goals as the KPIs of your website, deciding on which conversion goals are appropriate for your online marketing strategy will provide you with the means to evaluate how effective your efforts are proving. The feedback you receive from your web analytics report will provide valuable insight regarding consumer response and will permit you to make adjustments to those aspects of your marketing strategy which do not meet expectations.

How to set up a goal in Google Analytics

  1. Log in to Google Analytics. Click the ‘edit’ link on the Google Analytics website profile page.
  2. Click on the ‘edit’ link on the settings column to define the first goal.
  3. Enter the page URL that, when viewed, constitutes the completion of the goal.


Active goal. If you want the goal to be active leave it marked ‘on’ or it won’t be tracked.

Match type. This is a technical setting. Leave it on ‘head match’ if you are not a programmer.

Goal name. Name your goal. Make sure that you can identify it in the Google Analytics dashboard.

Leave the rest of the form blank and click ‘save’. After a few days, go to the dashboard in Google Analytics and click on the ‘Goals’ tab. You will now see your goals and their conversion rates.

What is a goal funnel?

At the bottom of the goal-creation form there is a ‘Goal Funnel’ option. It is a series of pages leading up to the goal URL. For example, the funnel may include steps in your checkout process that lead you to the thank you page (goal). To create a funnel, you would list all the pages that you want the user to click through in order to achieve a particular goal.

Google Analytics has been the leader in web analytics for several years and has a growing following.

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