Google Analytics Goals

A detailed overview of Google Analytics Goals and how they can benefit your business
8 minute read
By Guillaume Wan

1. What are Google Analytics Goals?

Goals are indicators highlighting the objectives which have been achieved on your website or application. It represents a completed user undertaking which we can confidently call conversion. Goals can be defined as:

Macro Goals:

Primary Goals on your website such as making a donation (for a charity website) or purchasing a product (for an E-commerce website).

Micro Goals:

Secondary Goals on your website for example newsletter signups, creating an account or completing a contact form.

Setting up both Macro and Micro Goals is recommended because they give you a more holistic view of your website’s performance. Setting up Goals in a correct manner is essential to any business aspiring to make data-driven decisions based on customer interactions. This requires accurate analytical reporting, measurement of marketing return on investment (ROI) and conversion rate to see if your website could be tailored and improved. Goals can also be attributed to monetary value upon completion so you can measure your total business revenue (if measuring revenue earned).

2. Where can you find Goals data?

Goals can be found under the Conversions section above Ecommerce, after clicking on the main section it expands into several sub sections:

Overview: a summary of all the existing Goals shown in the form of scorecards and timeline.

Goal URLs: In this section you can see exactly which page paths individual Goals are happening on.

Reverse Goal Path: a table showing page paths visited 1,2,3 steps before the Goal completion location.

Funnel Visualization: Linear Funnel detailing how many unique sessions entered the funnel through the first Goal and how many unique sessions reached the end of the funnel.

Goal Flow: dynamic diagram displaying the path between Goals which users journeyed through.

Smart Goals: AdWords integrated feature using machine learning algorithm to automatically give you insights into how many Goals from ‘quality’ sessions did your AdWords campaign generate.

3. How to set up Goals?

In the admin section under view you can see Goals, click on “+NEW GOAL” to create one. In Google Analytics there are five different ways to track Goals:

Destination: In this section the request directory needs to be specified, which is the part of the URL after the domain name e.g /analytics if the URL was In this part you can set up your Goal Funnels.

Duration: Actual time of sessions can be specified in this field to create duration Goals e.g register all 15minutes sessions under duration Goal.

Pages/Screens per session: A Goal recording the number of pages a user views e.g registers sessions which viewed more than 15 pages under Pages/Screens per session Goal. The number of pages per session needs to be filled.

Event: To set up this Goal you will need to enter the event Action, event Label and event Category triggered when you complete a certain action on the website. In this way a Goal event will be recorded once per Event per Session.

Goal details

Smart Goal: It is straightforward to set this Goal up because you just need to click on the smart Goal button and click save. This gives you insights into how many Goals from ‘quality’ sessions which your AdWords campaign generated.

4. How can you use Goals for reporting?

In terms of reporting, there are many tools to choose from, however because Google Data Studio integrates very well with Google Analytics, suggestions in this article mostly (unless otherwise indicated) refer to Data Studio (DS) framework and reporting. It is crucial to have properly defined Goals on your website since the quality of the collected data will affect your reporting and directly affect your business and marketing strategy in the future. Using reporting tools such as Google Data Studio allows you to have an overview of your website’s performance represented on an A4 page size and conduct a daily monitoring of your Goals. The main advantages to businesses of having a fully integrated analytics solution are:

  • Cutting down on reporting time and speed up campaign optimization.

  • Engage with customers in near real-time

  • Drive more sales

  • Identify behavior changes in each segment that would have otherwise gone unnoticed via better dashboards

  • Better informed investment decisions with data-driven attribution

The main reporting features available in Google Data Studio are:

Scorecards (DS) Scorecards show data for a single measure. They also allow you to combine several Goals to show a single number which comprises of many Goals which users have reached within a session. Up and down variations are represented below the Scorecard either to highlight an increase in the value compared to the previous period or versus other time period.

Goal completion V1

Tables (DS) Tables are a great way to visualise large data sets. Data Studio allows you to blend data easily which means you can have several Goals under a shared dimension within the same table. Heatmaps can also be applied to the table to quickly distinguish high values from low values. allow you to create more comprehensive reports.

image (3)

Goal Funnels (GA) Goal Funnels are a series of pages that you would expect a user to follow. They are a great way of knowing the level of drop-off for each step in the Funnel, how many Sessions actually proceed to the next steps, how many convert and reach the final step. This is a fundamental way in which to visualise customer interactions and aid the ability to improve customer experience and conversion rate on these specific pages. Each Session is unique and counted once for each step.

bookking funnel v3

Goal flow (GA) Goal flow is a Funnel which shows where users travel to between Goals, this appears as loops back. Therefore if a user visits a step twice it will be counted again to produce a loop.Goal flow allows you to visualize actions taken on the users’ path to conversion. Insights can therefore be surfaced from this analysis which will allow you to focus your business efforts on specific audience segments and deliver more relevant experiences to your visitors.

goal flow v3

Why you should implement Google Analytics Goals Goals allow you to measure and visualise actions taken by your website visitors on user journeys, through to a specific conversion.They allow your business to gain insight into site performance by communicating user behaviour to Google Analytics. Goals will tend to vary depending on the website 's purpose. If you are a site that is generating leads, then the tracking of “contact us form" submitted should be the primary Goal you should track. If your intention is to gain more newsletter contact then a newsletter signup is a great Goal to track.

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Guillaume Wan
Technical Web Analyst, ekino London.
Guillaume is passionate about data and web analytics. He believes that a solid tracking implementation is key to a successful reporting and Digital Marketing strategy.