Using goals in Google analytics

Websites aren’t just brochures. They should have calls-to-actions and goals. In my opinion, there’s little point in developing a web presence with no clear measure of success. Some will argue that recording an increase in the number of visitors to your website is a success, but in my book success isn’t achieved until your visitors fulfil a goal.

If you are looking to measure the fulfilment of particular goals on your website then Google Analytics is a good place to start. Google’s products are free, but remember, Google is collecting data on your website and its visitors – and this data is Google’s, not yours.

Google Analytics is the perfect tool for looking at your website’s conversion performance. But straight out-of-the-box it doesn’t track conversion performance (or goals as Google calls conversions). The good news though is it doesn’t take much effort to set up and apply goals.

And Google Analytics doesn’t require additional work on a website’s code, as goals are managed at Google’s end, within the analytics product. Once the Google tracking score is in place you can report on which marketing channels are delivering conversions or goal events.

Google tracks conversion events by counting the number of times a visitor reaches a particular page on your website. Pages like contact us, download a file or a purchase thank-you page, are all good web pages to track in terms of overall goals for the website.

Increased complexity – goal funnels
Goal funnels offer the next step in terms of analysis. Rather than simply recording whether an event occurs, a funnel provides you with an opportunity to track a defined path through your website.

For instance, if a user purchases a product from your website – the end goal – they’re likely to follow a purchase sequence – select a product, enter personal details, address and credit card details.

Google Analytics shows where users enter into and drop out of this purchase sequence. It will tell you – in both absolute and percentage terms – how many customers complete each stage of the transaction. The goal funnel provides a useful illustration and overview of the process.

Ensure accurate reporting: use Google Analytics handy filters
It’s worth using the handy little filters in Google Analytics to ensure you aren’t diluting your results. Using filters should be self-explanatory but in effect what they do is remove your own data (internal activity) from the Google tracking files so you get a better idea of what your real visitors are looking at.

A good example to consider is where a company’s website homepage has been set up by their IT department as the default browser page for the entire business. In this instance unless internal activity is excluded Google Analytics will show over-inflated figures for the homepage and probably an unusually high bounce rate too.

Exclude all traffic from a domain
This filter helps you remove the traffic information from a particular domain (or domains if you add multiple filters). This is perfect for removing staff or web agency interactions from analytics data for your website. Otherwise your own data will inflate site visitor numbers or skew results in terms of what visitors are looking at. By using this filter Google Analytics will only track the activity of external website users.
 
Exclude all traffic from an IP address
As above – this filter allows you to remove certain IP numbers or IP ranges from your statistics. A practical example of where this might be helpful is if you want to exclude internal monitoring systems which may be indexing content or checking that the website is up and running.

Include only traffic to a subdirectory
Perfect for breaking your website statistics into smaller, component parts. For example, if your website has a ‘consumer’ section, a ‘media centre’ and an ‘investor relations’ section you may require separate reporting for the business owners or departments interested in the performance of these discrete sections of the website.

Read more about Google Analytics and Coast Digital’s consulting services at our our web traffic analysis page.