Google Analytics Basics – Goals

Your analytics account can pretty much be rendered useless if you don’t know what the goals of your application are. A common misconception is that a web page can simply be put on the internet and people will just start visiting and doing with it what you intended it to do. However, that is often not the case. Things that may seem intuitive to you, are often not intuitive to the end user. In order to better measure if your website or app is achieving its goals it is best practice to set up goals in your Google Analytics dashboard.


A goal represents a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business. Examples of goals include making a purchase (for an ecommerce site), completing a game level (for a mobile gaming app), or submitting a contact information form (for a marketing or lead generation site).

There are four possible types of goals:

  1. Destination
  2. Duration
  3. Event
  4. Pages/Screens per session

Goals are set at the view level. In other words, you can set up unique goals for each view. It is also possible to give your goals a monetary value. If you find that 1 out of ten people who sign up for your newsletter convert to a $100 sale, you can give a monetary value to the goal of a newsletter sign up $10.

Its important to note how goals are measured. Each goal can only be counted once per session. That means if a user comes to your page and for some weird reason subscribes to your newsletter twice in the same session, this goal will only be counted once.

Create Your First Goal

Now that you understand the basic concepts of goals, let us go and set one up in your account. I am going to use my master view to set up a goal for each time somebody fills out the contact form on my page. We will assume that after somebody fills out the form, they are redirected to a page called “/contacted”. Therefore, this will be a “destination goal”.

As always the first step is to open out your Google Analytics dashboard and click on the “admin” tab. ¬†From here select the correct account, property and view that you would like to set up your goal for.

Google Analytics Dashboard-admin

At this point, you can choose between setting up a goal based on one of the pre defined templates or create a custom goal from scratch. There’s not a whole lot of difference to the process. In this case, since we are setting this goal for a contact form, we can use the predefined template “contact us”.
google analytics goal setup

Now, you must give the the goal a description. In my case, “contact us” is perfectly fine. This is also going to be a destination goal. This means that when the user hits a certain page, Google Analytics will count this as a goal.
google analytics goal description

Finally, you want this goal to be triggered whenever a user hits the destination “/contacted”. This assumes that after the user fills out your contact form and the email is successfully sent, they get redirected to this page (“/contacted”). I will also give my goal an optional value of 10 usd.
google analytics goal details

Once you save, you will be redirected back to your goals list for the view that you chose.
google analytics goal list


That is really all that there is to it! Creating goals in your Google Analytics account is something that is not all that complicated to do, but it can bring a very high return. Google Analytics goals can help you better understand if your site is doing what you had intended it to do.