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Use Google Analytics Goals to Sharpen Site Focus

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Google Analytics goals

The Google Analytics goals report is useful in helping anyone who wants to build an online business.

The Analytics goals report allows user to set specific goals for how visitors interact with a site. It also tracks how effectively the site delivers on those goals.

The fact is that different sites have different goals such as:

  • Registrations
  • Ecommerce transactions
  • Ad revenue
  • Social media followers
  • Email subscriptions
  • Site performance
  • Return visits

Site performance breaks down even more with total visits, users, sessions, bounce rate, pages per visit and more.

Many sites of course have more than one critical goal. Setting up a handful of the most important goals will create a greater sense of focus on what the site is trying to accomplish.

Google Analytics goals

Simple Example

I have a site with one section of content that is popular but doesn’t deliver strong advertising revenue.

So I have set up goals in Google Analytics that help me track how I can entice the visitors in the popular content to move over to other content that has more lucrative ad revenue. In simple terms, I use javascript to track clicks from links in the popular content.

Analytics provides an updated report each day showing how many visitors clicked over to those sections. It tells me:

  • Completions of all goals – the total number of conversions
  • Individual goal completions
  • Conversion rate – percentage of conversions out of the entire audience
  • Abandonment rate – percentage of people who exited before completing the goal

I then use the data to make adjustments to my site for the sake of improving my conversion rate.

The higher the conversion rate, the more effectively the site performs.

How to Set Up Goals

Setting up goals in Google Analytics is fairly easy. But the process has changed recently and will continue to change as GA evolves over time.

  1. Click on Admin in the upper right side of the page.
  2. Click on the Profile and then on Goals.
  3. Choose a template based on the type of goals report needed.
  4. Click on the Create a Goal button.
  5. Choose a Name and Type.
  6. Fill the details on the next page depending on the Type.
  7. Click Save.

There is a limit of 20 goals in the software, but that should be more than enough. Trying to track even 10 goals effectively can be a challenge. Trying to track 20 is too much for small businesses and organizations with limited time and staff resources.

Instead, it makes sense to focus on a small number of important goals until reaching fulfillment. Then move on to a new set of goals.

Tracking Results

In Analytics, click on Conversions at the bottom left and Goals Overview to see the bigger picture. The report will show the results as described in the first section of this article.

Note that it may take a day or so before the numbers begin to show up in the report.

Ideally, the goal conversion rate will rise over time as the site is tweaked to make it more effective.

Like all reports in analytics, it is possible to create an automated email of the report that can be sent daily, weekly or monthly.

I like to use a spreadsheet that tracks results over long periods of time. I can compare results on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.

Site traffic fluctuates over time according to seasons, events and other factors. So being able to compare August of this year, for example, with August of last year is much more insightful than just looking at the numbers from yesterday.

Other Uses

For more advanced users, the Conversion Report has four other features in addition to the Goals Overview report. They are:

  1. Goal URLs: The page where visitors completed the goal.
  2. Reverse Goal Path: The pages they viewed before completing the goal.
  3. Funnel Visualization: The sequence of steps to complete the goal.
  4. Goal Flow: The originating source of the visitor to completion.

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