Take Your Niche Sites to the Next Level Using Google's Goals

by derek on August 25, 2011 · 24 comments

Let’s say you want to assess the success of your site by determining how many people have purchased your products. Of the webpages that you’ve designed, you’ve made sure to create a “Thank You” page that visitors will see once they’ve successfully converted. While this can be a great way to monitor your sales, there are other statistics that are crucial for improving your site: knowing where your visitors come from, how many visitors don’t complete a sale, etc.
Setting and tracking goals with Google Analytics, a free website metrics tool that monitors conversion rates and return on investments (ROI), is an easy way to monitor goals and reveal areas for improvement on your site.

What Is a Goal?

A goal is a website page (or other factor such as newsletter subscriptions, content views, or downloads) that serves as proof of an actual conversion taking place on your site. For example, let’s say that your niche involves holiday items. If you want to track the purchases of Halloween decorations before Halloween, the “Confirmation” or “Thank You for Your Order” page that the buyer sees after completing an order will serve as your goal.

Keeping tabs on that goal – as well as any other goal that is crucial to your success – is key to improving your conversion rate and search engine optimization (SEO).

Setting Goals

After you have identified which goals are most important to you, you will need to set up your goal by:

  1. Signing in to your Google Analytics account
  2. Going to your dashboard and clicking Edit under the Actions column
  3. Scrolling down to the Goals section
  4. Picking one of the four sets to create your goal
  5. Clicking Add Goal for each goal you want to create
  6. Turning the goal On
Google Analytics Add Goal

Now that you have set up your goal(s), you will need to determine goal types. Google Analytics has three types of goals:

  • URL Destination – You can find out if a visitor reached a specific page with this selection. This goal is best used to track conversions, such as purchasing a product or submitting an e-mail address.
  • Time on Site – This goal shows how long visitors stayed on your site and then let’s you analyze that data. For example, you could input “Greater Than 2 minutes” as a benchmark and then track how many visitors signed up for your newsletter after two minutes. You can also put in a “Less Than” value.
  • Pages/Visit – You can see how many pages each visitor views on your site and then analyze this information by setting a benchmark to see how many average conversions you receive per pages viewed.

Using Goals to Improve SEO and Conversion

Now that Google Analytics has provided you with all of this data, what do you do with it? Perhaps your current goals are to learn how many people signed up for your newsletter subscription list on a weekly basis and learn how many pages that group viewed by the time they completed that initial goal.

Once you add both goals to your dashboard and then turn them on, Google Analytics’ tracking system will give you a keener eye in to how effective your site is. Going back to our last example, if after a week you decided to look at the data, you may find that 15 people subscribed to your site. Looking at the other goal of Pages/Visit could also reveal that for every subscriber who converted, they viewed at least three pages.

Why does this matter? It matters because further investigating reveals that potential customers cannot find your call to action until they’ve gotten to the third page of your site. Now that you have this information, you can make sure to put your call to action on not only the homepage of your site, but on every page of your site, which will likely improve your future conversion rate.

While using goals to track key metrics on your site may seem a bit overwhelming, understanding what data you are looking for and how this knowledge can optimize your conversions is key. Get comfortable with metric tools and stay abreast of new ways to optimize your site – your wallet will thank you.

About the Author
Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. When he’s not busy testing sites, generating traffic or writing content, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching TV, playing games or going camping.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne August 26, 2011 at 12:09 am

I think these really worth it. In this kind of manner I can easily pin point my customer. I think Goals is worth trying for. Thanks for sharing it.


sanjay August 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

Good way to track your visitors, and to make sure your website is doing it’s job converting your visitors into customers. I would also add that treat every page on your site as a sells page, that way your visitors won’t have to go to a different page just to buy (convert) something.


Barry Wheeler@Blogging Tips August 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I’m surprised at the number of people that don’t use Google Analytics to track what’s happening on their sites. This is one of the best tools available and it’s FREE!
How cool is that?


James Martell August 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Great overview of the goals feature in GA. THanks for the writeup..


Minas Notebook August 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm

This is great. It will be nice for my wallet and my website.


Cary@Christening Gifts August 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Good advice here. If you are series about conversions, you need to understand the funnel. Without it you’re guessing why people convert, and almost as important – where do they leave the process.


Jayson August 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Great break down of G Analytics and how to use Analytics to meet goals. I usually forget to establish goals, which is probably why some of my niche sites tend to get abandoned after a few months.


declan hughes August 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm

So mitch enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching the box and playing games? chuck in drinking great wine and mitch is me!!!!!


Lionel@Bachmann Model Trains August 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Nice walk-through of using Google’s Goals. I never considered using the goals for conversions to help me “follow” what my customers where doing beforehand. Now you have me brainstorming. 🙂


Kostas@Online Opportunities September 1, 2011 at 11:35 am

Google analytics it’s a powerful tool for webmasters and with all the information and data you recieve it can really help webmasters improve their site in order to get more conversions or traffic, thanks for the post!


Mark September 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Nice topic about Google’s Goals… i have been looking for a optimization of my site . Thanks for features you discussed…


Settlement Purchaser September 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

YOu are right about how useful Google Tools can be. I just wish they had the option to see exactly where people are coming from like my slimstat plugin on WP.


Joe@Leading Locksmith September 2, 2011 at 5:17 am

Every time I read posts like this I am reminded of the fact that I barely scratch the surface of what Google Analytics has to offer. I really should read a Google Analytics for Dummies book and find out what I’m missing. Great post Mitch!


Gregory @ Ascentive September 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm

This article is basically a reminder for me to learn the real ins and outs of Google Analytics. I use the thing nearly every day to check various stats but barely ever dig deeper to find features like “Goals”!


Dany @ Yahoo domain September 22, 2011 at 7:29 am

Didn’t know Google had Google goals. I measure the success of my website by how much traffic I send to my affiliate partners through my links. It’s been great so far! But now I need to know just how much of that traffic bought from my affiliates.


Genie September 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

People are unaware of this advantage. It really is helping guys of SEO circle to grab this. It surely takes ease and just a couple of setting up you are on the go.


Erica October 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

This is really a practical guide I can understand. I’ve always known this GA feature is useful, but never had the patience to investigate how to actually put it to work. Thanks a lot for the share!


Floyd Andrews@SEO resellers October 14, 2011 at 9:27 am

Now that’s a great idea! That can make you think of ways to improve your sales once you see the number of visits to the thank you page.


Property Marbella November 3, 2011 at 6:36 am

I’ve been using Google Analytics, a long time and it helps me a lot of my SEO work.


Maja@fantastic sams November 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

You have defined ” goal” in new technical way. I think it is terminology of on line business.


Jesse@Village Walk real estate December 22, 2011 at 5:57 am

Hi Mitch,
I’m not familiar with this feature. I’ve seen it in Google Analytics but i never understand what it is for. I’ll try this out and i’m crossing my fingers that it will increase my conversion rates. Thank you for sharing.


Veronica Cervera December 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

This is a great way to find out how your site is performing in terms of the visitors on that site. It will serve you well in checking out conversion rates.


Russ@Michigan Web Design January 14, 2012 at 3:24 am

Great Analytics tips! Utilizing “Goals” can definitely help out with making improvements to SEO efforts. I personally like monitoring through-traffic. This way you can tell if your website is actually interesting! Getting a high rank in Google’s SERP is only a fraction of having a successful website.


Janice@Playstation 4 February 23, 2012 at 7:11 am

I am new to your site… But I love this idea! Thanks for sharing. Your site has some very good info on it. Keep helping us newbie’s out please!


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