Setting Up Goal Conversions in Google Analytics

By Simon Ensor
SEO 26.10.2016

We often talk about the importance of using Google Analytics to track the success of your website and to delve into useful statistics. Measuring popular statistics like pageviews, bounce rate, session duration, popular content and demographics are all essential metrics to be noting but let’s face it, everyone and their dog knows about these statistics and how to access them. Whilst still valuable, they are merely indicative of the overall success of your site and may not translate directly into business success.

Goal Conversions

A lower bounce rate is great, and increasing session duration could point towards better quality content being produced for the site. But…and there is a but….these metrics can be a little bit wishy washy (I’m pretty sure that is the technical term). What you really want to know is how many people are actually doing exactly what you want them to do on your website. The easiest example of this is e-commerce websites. What is the primary aim? To get users buying your products via the website.

If you are investing time and money into your website, you want to be able to measure if your efforts have been well spent. Knowing that the broader metrics such as bounce rate might not actually give you a crystal clear insight into how successful your website is in converting users into paying customers, surely you want to know how many real customers your website generates and your corresponding conversion rate?

conversion rate meme

Enter goal conversions! ‘Goals’ is a handy Google Analytics tool enabling you to measure specific actions that are more closely aligned with your business objectives. To reach a goal, an action on the website needs to be completed and the completion of a goal is called a conversion. Establishing goals and tracking conversions will help you to better measure your return on investment. Furthermore, you will be able to optimise your website to encourage visitors to behave the way you want them to and hence increase goal conversions.

That’s all well and good, but how do you go about setting up these mythical goal conversions?

Goal Setup

To begin the process of goal setup, select the admin section on your Google Analytics account and click on ‘Goals’ under the ‘View’ column.

GA admin

To add a new conversion goal, select ‘New Goal’. Although there is the option to import from gallery, we recommend against this. By all means browse the gallery for goal inspiration but ultimately your goals should be unique to your business. Your strategic objectives will be different from another business and so your goals should be too.

new GA goal

The first step is to decide on the nature of your goal. What are you trying to measure and achieve? For an ecommerce site, your goals will likely be linked to the user placing an order. If you are a marketing agency then your goal may be linked to the placement of an enquiry. There are various templates to choose from, as follows:

GA goal setup

The next stage is to determine the method of tracking your goals. Choose a name for your goal and then the type of conversion. We would recommend tracking by destination page where possible. To ensure this method will work, check whether the URL of your destination page changes. For example, if you have a ‘Thank you for your enquiry’ page after someone gets in touch, you will need to confirm whether the URL for that page is unique to that screen.

setting goal information

You will then need to input the unique URL of the destination page. Note: if you don’t want to have a ‘thank you page’ there are clever PHP scripts that can be added to webforms that mean that you can create a tracking URL without actually having a new page.

Now you are ready to decide on goal value and traffic paths.

goal destination

Monetising your Conversions

Assigning monetary value to your goals will translate each completed action into a tangible profit for your business. Furthermore, it will enable you to differentiate between the quality of your conversions. This is particularly important if you have set up both macro and micro conversions (more on this later), as a macro conversion will carry far more value than a micro conversion and this will need to be reflected in your results.

In order to determine the goal values you will need to evaluate your business data. For example, if 20% of all enquiries leads to a sale and your average sale is £500 then you could assign £100 to each contact conversion as a measure of revenue generation. If you wanted to, you could work out the net margins on your products and services to see what the most accurate ROI would be. Also, the currency will automatically default to US dollars but you can change this in ‘View Settings’ under admin.

Macro and Micro Goals

Instead of focussing solely on your overarching goals, it is important to also set up micro goals in order to determine the activities leading up to the macro goal. One way of doing this is by making use of the funnels function, which enables you to specify a path you expect traffic to take towards the final goal conversion. It is particularly useful for analysing the entrance and exit points throughout the process. With this information you can make better use of the entrance points in your marketing strategy and address the primary drop-off points to improve the user flow.

The micro goals you establish will vary from business to business. It is down to you to decide where it is appropriate to set them up. Bear in mind that on a free Google Analytics account, you can create up to 20 goals. This should be plenty but you may need to prioritise if you have a variety of goal conversions.


If you are serious about improving the online experience for your customer and consequently building your business, setting up goal conversions is a must. By establishing your conversion goals, Google Analytics will be able to measure the number of conversions, the conversion rate and compare the success of your marketing campaigns. Pay particular attention to the conversion rate as this is an effective signal of the overall success of your website. Ultimately, without this ability to measure tangible ROI and consumer behaviour, you will not be able to adapt and evolve accordingly.

Have a play around with it and you will realise that it is not as daunting as you might originally anticipate!

If you have any further questions on this topic then please get in touch with one of our Yellowball experts today.

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