10 Must Track Google Analytics Goals

The definition of Google Analytics goals has always been clear to me – a means to measure business objectives, reports and improve on them. As a London based Google Analytics consultant, I’ve had the privilege to work with many of the UK leading brands and seen some fantastic implementations of goals, together and quite surprisingly the lack of goals. Google Analytics has transformed itself over the years from a ‘nice to have’ analytics software to a ‘must have’ analytics software so providing you agree with my definition of Google analytics goals, you’ll understand that they go way beyond tracking a sales funnel.

Before you start tracking, you’ll notice that Google Analytics allows tracking of up to four goals. Therefore to track more goals, you’ll need to set a duplicate profile and you might also find it useful to add a date next to the goal name.

10 Must Track Google Analytics Goals:

Track Comments – This neat analytics goal is great f
or websites offering blog functionality and gets more users engaged in the conversation. You’ll need to track two main actions, ‘submit your comment’ and ‘post your comment’. In order to set the goal, you’ll need to track onclick events by setting up a virtual page view (a page that doesn’t actually exist – such as the ‘post your comment’ button) and link this virtual page view to a goal in Analytics. For more technical information on how to configure this goal, check out TD Creative ‘tracking comments in google analytics

Track Social Bookmarking Actions – If you’re offering some sort of social bookmarking buttons on your site, wouldn’t be great to know if it’s working and whether users are actually clicking on the widget. Using Google Analytics tracking clicks on outbound links is quite easy to achieve this goal. First you’ll need to tag the link itself by tweaking the GA tracking code and adding /outgoing/ then set the goal page as /outgoing/.* using regex match)

If you’re using Addtoany.com for example, you’ll need to set the goal to head match /addtoany.com/services/ (or regex match goal as /addtoany.com/services/.*). If you’re offering an internal email this page’s functionality, simply add the email sent confirmation message URL as the goal.

Track Newsletter Subscriptions – I know, you’re not supposed to have favourites, however this one is one of mine because its easy to place a goal value next to each successful subscription. The first stage is to start tagging your email campaigns using Google URL builder to get a better understanding of how much revenue this channel brings in and what its conversion rate is. Once you have this information (which is optional of course) you can set up the goal together with its value.

Track Catalogue Request – Similar to tracking newsletter subscriptions, catalogue request has been known to convert 10 times better than PPC traffic for some of my clients so you’ll understand why tracking and optimising the catalogue request funnel is imperative for your business.

Track New Account Openings
– Use this goal to u
nderstand how many users go from opening an account to completing their order and to see how difficult you are making it to open an account. You’ll find by analyzing the account opening funnel that removing some of the requirements fields (i.e. do you really need my phone number now?) will help improve the goal conversion rate. Another classic mistake is having a captcha form which is too difficult to complete.

Track Feed Subscriptions – Using the very handy trackPageview tag again, you’ll need to create a ‘goal’ page and update the feed link o
n the blog or website. The goal page should look something like onclick=”javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview(’/page/rss.html’);” Once the tag is up to date and assigned to the RSS link create a goal using head match.

Track File Downloads – Google Analytics offers an easy way to track clicks on links that lead to file downloads. Great for tracking PDF, MP3 etc using . For more information visit Google help resource for tracking downloads.

Track Call Back Requests
– In most call back widgets I’ve seen there are two pages, ‘request a call’ and ‘confirmation’. Using head match it’s straigh
t forward to set a goal. If your business tracks revenue by phone orders, you can add a goal value as well. I like this goal because it really illustrates the link between call centres and website sales and how they are all connected.

Track Leads – Perhaps my second favourite, if you are selling online or making a living from the online world you simply have to track and improve on your lead tracking. I use lead tracking on my site to track free website health check reports and working with the goal funnel I’ve made countless changes.

Track Sales
– Despite leaving this goal until the end, it is by far the most important goal for any online retailer. My recommendation when setting this goal is to include every step a user might take to better understand where to improve. If you’re asking what conversion rate you should be looking to achieve, Amazon are converting at 17%+
and some of my clients exceed this however granted the issue is more complicated and would probably need couple of blog posts to explain 😉

Bonus: track website user reviews – I am a big fan of user generated content and reviews in particular. I have seen reviews helping to increase a product conversion and these days online retailers are starting to accept reviews whether negative or positive as helping their business.

One of the best features in Google Analytics is the ability to set up goals and analysing the goal funnel understand how to improve the user experience and website offer. The first goal website owners seem to create is a sales conversion goal, though there are many other important website engagements you might want to track, understand and optimise.

Which goals do you track?


Ran Nir is the founder of Conversion Counts a London based online marketing agency specializing in Google Analytics training and consultancy. Image by Flickr under CC


  1. says

    It is also worth noting that in many cases, event tracking will give you the information you are looking for and will not count as a page view.

    The drawback of tracking everything using the trackPageview function is that it can make some reports such as bounce rates and the navigation summary almost unusable.

  2. says

    Good points Dylan. I use scheduled email reports for many clients and sending the actionable information as a goal makes it easier to understand, especially when they often become KPIs.

  3. says

    Thanks for this – I’m still trying to get my head around Google Analytics and goal tracking looks like a great place to start!

  4. says

    Good list. I’ve just started using GA and I’m impressed with its tracking, reporting, segmentation, etc. capabilities. But I’m surprised that there is no way to capture product-specific revenue or SKU data for a purchase. (e.g. Different products have different costs) Sure, this would require some extra javascript coding, but I would really like to have this level of insight.

  5. says

    @David – it's easy to add ecommerce tracking to GATC:

    "1234", // Order ID – required
    "google.com", // organization or site name – required
    "11.99", // Total – required
    "1.29", // Tax
    "5.00", // Shipping
    "San Jose", // City
    "California", // State
    "USA" // Country
    "1234", // Order ID – required, must be same as in addTrans
    "DD44", // SKU
    "T-Shirt", // Product name – required
    "Green Medium", // Category
    "11.99", // Price – required
    "1" // Quantity

    Remember to add this after trackPageview. And you must have both addTrans and addItem for each transaction.

  6. says

    We’re a fairly IT led company when it comes to reporting, and experiencing difficulty with management buy-in of GA goal data (we’ve been running GA for 2 years now).

    When someone completes a goal, e.g. website registration, what % tolerance would you say is acceptable comparing to our CRM database?

    How accurate should GA be? Is GA any more/less accurate than other tools?

    I'd be really interested to learn about other people's experiences here!


  7. says

    I see blue lines in goal conversion I usually set up in online order and contact us pages but do not receive any inquiries by mail or phone etc.

    does this mean user have gone to contact us or online form and took no action?

  8. Craig Burgess says

    Avinash Kaushik has a good discussion on "accuracy" of tools (can't find it at the moment), including GA. Most people in management want absolutes. But these tools are imperfect. That said, they are all imperfect in the same way, so it pays to look at the trends and not at the exact numbers. We have had these same discussions, and it's very difficult to compare apples to apples when your revenue tracking comes in differently than GA says it should.

  9. says

    I am trying to use Google’s funnel visualization report, but I cannot get it to work. I think something is wrong with the URL I am using for tracking. The URL I am using for the step is: /nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=77&Itemid=241

    Can anyone tell me if this should work or not?

    Thanks in advance for any tips.

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