Using Google Analytics to Determine and Track Your Goals

using-google-analytics-determine-track-goals

As a local business, you know how important it is to have a web presence your customers can use to learn more about how you can solve their problems. A well-functioning website will tell your customers everything they need to know and, ideally, convince them to come to your location and make a purchase.

After you’ve spent all the time and resources on getting your website set up just right, one question remains: how do you know if all the work that’s been put in was worth it?

It’s simple: set up and track your goals using the tools available to you.

One of the best, and least expensive, online tools to use to determine and track your goals is Google Analytics. Not only is it simple to set up what you need to track, but it’s also free and easy to use once you know what you’re doing.

To help you get started, we’ll walk you through the process of setting the right goals, setting up tracking in Google Analytics, and tracking them along the way.

Determining The Right Goals to Set

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of setting up your goal tracking in Google Analytics, let’s start with how to set the right kinds of goals for your business. After all, a website without goals is like you walking into a grocery store on an empty stomach and no shopping list to work off of. In other words, it just doesn’t work so well.

The goals that you set will be largely dependent on which category your website falls into:

  • E-Commerce – The goal is to get someone to buy something on your site
  • Lead Generation – The goal is to get someone to fill out a form
  • Content – The goal is to get someone to sign up to receive content or join a community

Each category will have its own set of objectives based on what you consider to be the ultimate measure of success. For example, e-commerce websites value product views, additions to shopping carts, and check-outs. Conversely, lead generation sites value landing page views and forms filled out.

Before deciding on your goals, it’s important first to understand your primary business objectives. In other words, why does your company exist? What products/services do you provide to your customers?

Then, it’s time to come up with the strategies and tactics which will support your business objectives. For example, if you’re a local boutique who sells locally-designed and created fashion items, your objective may be to sell these items. Then, your tactics would include driving people to your store in order to sell your products.

Once you’ve got your business objectives and tactics down, it’s time to come up with your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Ask yourself: what information do people search for in my industry before they come to my location? Using the example of the boutique, a few ideas to track include:

  • Store hours viewed
  • Store locations viewed
  • Menu viewed (restaurants)
  • Discount codes/coupons downloaded
  • Engagement rates

Write down any of these goals that could lead to people coming into your physical location. Keep these in mind as we continue into setting up these goals in Analytics.

Setting up Goals in Google Analytics

Now that you know what kinds of goals you want to track on your website, it’s time to tell Google Analytics what to do.

Navigating to Goal Setup

Step 1

The first step is to log into your Google Analytics account by going to analytics.google.com and typing in your username and password (if you’re not already logged in).

Step 2

Once you’re logged into your account, navigate your mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen where it says “Admin”.

Step 3

On the “Admin” screen, find the column titled “View” and select “Goals,” which should be near the top of the list.

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Step 4

On the “Goals” page, click the bright red button that says, “New Goal” and it should take you to what we like to call the goal builder.

Setting Up Your Goal

Here’s where the work we did earlier in this blog comes into play. There are three steps to the goal builder:

1. Goal Setup

Within the setup portion, you have three options:

  • Template – Create a goal based on a pre-filled configuration
  • Smart Goal – Analytics will analyze the various sessions on your website and turn the best ones into conversions. These can be used to improve your AdWords bidding.
  • Custom – Create your own goal with custom details

For this guide, we are going to use the custom option, as it will give us the most flexibility in setting up your goal exactly how you’d like it. Select “Custom” and click on “Continue” to move on to the next step.

2. Goal Description

Now it’s time to name your goal. Make your name as descriptive as possible, as you will be referring to it across the Analytics platform from now on. For example, if you’re tracking how many times your “Hours” page was viewed on your website, you might want to name it “Hours Viewed.”

Once you have a name, pick a slot ID for your goal to fit into. This just tells Analytics which one of 12 your goal is considered as. You can only have 12 goals set up at one time. You won’t be able to delete any once they’re set up, but you will be able to change them later on. It’s okay to leave this as is.

Now it’s time to choose what type of goal you’re setting. There are a few different options at this point and each relates to the goals you set earlier. Your options include:

  • Destination – This is a great way to track things such as forms filled (thank you page) and pages viewed (hours, store locator).
  • Duration – This is a good way to measure engagement based on time spent on a specific page
  • Pages/Screens per session – This is another way to measure your engagement based on how many pages are viewed while a user is on your site
  • Event – This is a good way to measure on-page interactions on your website by tracking buttons clicked, videos played, social media shares, and more

Using the example goals from earlier, if you want to track hours and store locator views and digital coupon downloads, the destination goal is an easy way to set that up.

You can also use pages viewed per session to find out those who are engaged enough with your website to dive into your brand before they visit your store. 

The event goals would be great if you’re looking to increase social shares, video views, and all things brand awareness.

3. Goal Details

The goal details now vary according to which type of goal you’ve selected. Here’s a brief overview of how to set up each of the four types.

Destination

Here, you’ll define which page will count as a goal, the value of that page (optional), and the ideal path/funnel to get to that page (optional). Set up your page destination as pictured in the screenshot with the last portion of your URL after the /. For example, the hours page may be www.yourdomain.com/store-hours.

You can use the “value” section to assign a monetary value to this goal. Unless you know this value, you can leave this as is. The funnel will allow you to identify a specific path your website visitor must take for it to be considered as a conversion.

For example, if you only want to consider visitors who went through Home Page -> About -> Store Hours to count, you can specify this here. You can also leave it as is.

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Duration

Here, you can specify how long you want a visitor to be on a page before they’re considered a conversion. For example, if they’re on your site for longer than 5 minutes, they are more likely to be highly engaged than someone who’s only on for 30 seconds. Set your ideal amount and assign a value, if you have one.

Pages/Screens per session

Similar to duration, a visitor who reads through 5 of your website pages is more likely to be highly engaged with your brand than someone who visits one. Set your ideal pages per session to track how many highly engaged visitors are on your website. Assign a value, if you have one, or leave it as is.

Event

Before you can set up event tracking as a goal, you must add a tracking code to your site. Let’s say you want to track video views on an embedded YouTube video. You can set up your events with the category as “YouTube Video,” the event action as “Click play button,” and the event label as the name of the video.

Learn more about event tracking here.

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Tracking Your Goals to Success

Congratulations, you now have your Analytics account set up to track your website’s success! Now it’s time to crack open a cold one and take a break, right?

While you’re more than welcome to do this, your work is not over. Now that your goals are set up and being tracked by Analytics, it’s someone’s job to track their success and make changes as necessary.

When you’re properly tracking goals, you can use A/B testing to try new tactics and make decisions based on the results. For example, let’s say you put the link to “View Store Hours” on the top of one version of a landing page and on the bottom of another. After a couple weeks of gathering data, you can use Analytics to see which page had better results.

Note: If you’re tracking two different landing pages, you might want to set up two separate goals with different funnels. For example, one funnel might look like Landing Page 1 -> Store Hours and your second funnel might look like Landing Page 2 -> Store Hours. This way, you can compare your results and make the right changes.

Setting up and tracking the right goals to measure the success of your website can take a lot of time up front but pay off in the end with improved results and higher conversions. If you’re still not sure where to get started or want someone to help you through the process, reach out to us.

We’re experts in local SEO and can help walk you through the business objectives and tactics that will ensure you find success. Then, we can help to make sure your goals are set up correctly within your Analytics account and show you where you can track them along the way.