Understanding Google Analytics: Goals & Conversions

Google Analytics gives business owners and marketers alike the ability to measure, track and analyze trends seen during visitors’ experience with their website. Because the various in’s and out’s of Google Analytics can be confusing and somewhat daunting, we’ve started a series of posts designed to give you a fundamental, yet foundational understanding of how and why GA works.

In this post, we’ll explore the importance of defining and tracking goals and conversions with Google Analytics. Goals and conversions are a perfect way to measure the success of your site. They will help you track just about everything you want your site to accomplish.

WHAT IS A GOAL?

Why do you have a website? It sounds like a silly question, but it’s the first question that needs to answered when establishing your goals. Here’s the answer; you have a website in order to fulfill the vision of your business and meet the objectives your business has set. According to Avinash Kaushik the objectives you set must be DUMB (Doable. Understandable. Manageable. Beneficial). Some of these objectives might be selling a particular product, receiving comments on your blog posts, having documents downloaded, or obtaining subscribers to your weekly email newsletter. Here’s where goals come in. As defined by Google itself, “A goal is a website page [or website objective] that serves as conversions for your site.” In other words, goals are definitive measurements of the success of your website that fall in line with your business objectives. There are three types of goals to be aware of when using Google Analytics:

  1. URL Destination Goals - a visit to an actual web page
  2. Time on Site Goals - a defined timeframe of desired site activity
  3. Pages per Visit Goals - a defined number of page views desired during visit
WHAT IS A GOAL CONVERSION?

A goal conversion speaks for itself. It’s the actual completion, the desirable outcome, of the goal you have set. Let’s use the example goal of obtaining subscribers to your weekly email newsletter. The conversion of this goal would be to get your users to the “Thank you for signing up for our email newsletter” page. Google Analytics will track visits to this page (a page only accessible by signing up) and will translate them into a Goal Conversion Rate—the percentage of visits to your site that resulted in a conversion to one of your set goals. Using GA to set this goal will not only track the number of goal conversions but will ultimately bring your business objectives to life.

It’s important to recognize that anything goal-related within Google Analytics involves the strategic direction of your business objectives. Leveraging goals and conversions well with Google Analytics will lead to greater understanding of how people are experiencing your site and will help you make informed decisions on how your site should communicate. After all, it’s not enough anymore to just have a website.

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
  • What are my business objectives? Are my objectives DUMB?
  • How can those objectives translate into concrete goals on my website?
  • Is my website designed in such a way that these goals are clear?
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