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How to Create and Setup Goals in Google Analytics

What Are Goals in Google Analytics?

Goals in Google Analytics are critical for users to determine if their objectives are being met. The goals represent conversions, which are crucial for success with any business. There are a variety of goals that you can set in Google Analytics depending on what measurements you need for your present objectives. Goals could be a user following through with a purchase, providing contact information for further marketing, or even completing a certain level on a game.

Since these goals can provide you with so much insight into your user's behavior, defining these goals is a critical component of any marketing plan. If defined properly, you can determine your conversion number and rate for an app or a website, which can help you to determine if your online marketing and business campaigns are effective, and when they fall short.

Goals are used at the view level but can be added to multiple screens or pages that a user may visit. They can track how long the user is on the site, how many pages they view, and other events that occur while they are engaged with it. You can even set monetary values to your goals to see how the conversions can affect your business's bottom line. This will let you focus your energy on higher-value conversions.

Benefits of Google Analytics Goal Tracking

You put a lot of time into building and branding your websites, setting up your social media, and ensuring that everything works to provide your customers with the desired online experience. But all this hard work could be for nothing if you have no way to gauge whether they effectively convert leads into customers. That is the primary benefit of goal-tracking with Google Analytics. It helps you to see if your investment in the online space is working and if you are meeting your target objectives. Goals can also let you know where your efforts need some improvement. By knowing what assists in the conversion process, you will be better able to capitalize on it.

Goal Types in Google Analytics

There are four primary types of Google Analytics goals that can be tracked and provide you with needed information about your users' conversion process. They include destination goals, duration goals, pages/screens per session goals, and event goals.


With this type of goal, driving the users to a specific page is the goal. This will track every time one of your users visits a specific page, which will count as a conversion toward this goal. You can set up this goal on multiple pages to identify which pages see the most traffic and which ones are falling short. Some marketers also use this as a way to track form completion. While form data is not trackable with Google Analytics, you can set a destination goal to a thankyou page that appears after a form is completed. This is an indirect way to let you know how many people have completed a form.


With a duration goal, you will be tracking how long a user spends on the page. This can let you know what pages your users actually are reading and which ones they are essentially "flipping through." While measuring traffic can give you an overall view of who lands on your website, duration goals can let you know which pages users are truly engaging with it.

Pages/screens per session

Another way to track visitors' engagement is through the pages/screen per session goal. This will let you know how long the user spends on the entire site and how many pages/screens they look at during their visit.


Events are where you can get more specific on goals related to your site's content. You will set up individual events such as downloading content, watching a video, or engaging with other interactive elements. The event's goal will then track these interactions as they occur on the site.

What Can't You Track in Google Analytics?

The fact that Google Analytics is mostly traffic and conversion-based means there are some things that it can't track or can't track as well. Some of these areas that can not be tracked may hinder your ability to truly understand what is driving conversions on your site. But if you understand its limitations, you may be able to better adjust your marketing plan to find other ways to track these items or other measurement tools that can work with Google Analytics to achieve your ultimate goals. Below are some things the program can't track that hinder your ability to fully judge your online marketing presence.

  • Individuals users: For marketing purposes, you likely want to know more about each of your individual users, such as what they like and their online behavior, but Analytics only creates a unique user ID for each visitor. You will be able to separate new from repeat visitors this way, but you will be unable to obtain any personal information on the user.
  • The why: You will have plenty of information regarding the "what" with Google Analytics. You will know how many times a user visited, what pages they viewed, and other general information related to traffic. Still, it will provide you with no real solid information as to "why" their behavior occurred. For example, if your conversions suddenly drop, you may not know why, especially if your strategy has been consistent and season or other factors are not in play.

How to Set Up Goals in Google Analytics

Knowing how to create goals in Google Analytics can help you receive better information to determine whether or not your target objectives are being achieved. To begin setting up your goals, you will need to go to the admin section on your Google Analytics and select goals from the view column. Select create a new goal, then choose from one of the main options; using a template, creating a custom goal, or creating a Smart goal. If setting a goal from a template, you will need to select one of the templated goals from the drop-down list and edit the fields into the goal before saving. Most businesses will want to focus on the primary goal categories, including revenue, acquisitions, inquiry, and engagement. For custom goals, you will need to select a custom goal from the options and follow the step by step guide on screen.

Choose Your Goal Type

Another important process during the setup of your goals is determining which goal type will best serve your purpose. If you want to set goals related to specific pages, then a destination goal would work best. Trying to determine a user's behavior while on the site will involve setting duration goals or page/screens per session goals. And if you want data on how users are interacting with your site, you will want to set up some event goals as well. Once you have selected whether you want a template or custom goal, you will be able to choose the goal type during the beginning of the setup process.

Set Up Smart Goals

Setting up goals in Google Analytics using Smart goals is easy. If you want your goal tracking to follow common Smart goals for business, all you have to do is make the selection. If your goals are set up to meet the prerequisites to track for Smart goals, you will select the option, click next, then follow the proceeding steps on your screen. All you will have to do is give your Smart goal a name, and the rest is set up for you.

Set Up Goal Values

If you are looking for a way to judge conversions that are more valuable, assigning a monetary value to your goals is key. This will allow you to better compare conversions and measure both improvements and changes within your site or app. You can assign monetary values to any type of goal except Smart goals. Under goal details, you will see an option for value. Toggle it on, then make your value selection. This can work well for all goals except event goals, which may need to have a different approach to setting value.

One option for event goal values is to use the event value as the value for the goal. This will make the goal value the same as the event tracking code you entered into the goal earlier, whether it is monetary or not. If no definition is there, then the goal value will be empty, and you will need to toggle the goal value on for it to be assigned. You can also use a goal value for an event by keeping the goal value option at no and then manually set it up.

Verify Your Goals

Once the setup is complete, the final step is to verify the goal. When you click verify this goal, the goal setup you completed will be tested to make sure it works. It will use data that is needed for this goal that has been collected over the past seven days. It is important to note that this is simply using data in your account and not any kind of projection to how the goal will perform, but it is essential to make sure the goal is working properly going forward.

Setting up goals in Google Analytics is a relatively easy process that can provide you with a wealth of information about the performance of your online presence and marketing efforts. By tracking conversion metrics, you can better see the habits users follow when engaging with your site, what information they are most attracted to, and how often and how long engagement lasts. In the end, you will have a better picture of whether or not your online presence is working to help you achieve your target objectives or if it is time to rethink the strategy.

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About the author

Dan Kipp

Dan Kipp is the Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager guru at Marcel Digital. He loves traveling, cooking, sports, and spending spare time with friends and family.