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How to Configure & Track Google Analytics Goals for SEO

Josh McCoy
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path-to-goalGoal measurement is quite possibly the most important element of SEO itself…because it is the justification of the investment.

Those new to SEO often want to base campaign success on surface value metrics such as rankings. Rankings are great because they provide exposure, visibility, and something even greater: traffic. Once upon a time, rankings and traffic were the main ways to measure the success of SEO.

Increased rankings and traffic are good, but if your traffic doesn’t convert, then SEO becomes a producer of negative ROI. Would you know that though if you weren’t tracking goals/conversions on your site.

What Are Your Goals?

Goals in Google Analytics (using this as 99.999 percent of site owners use it) can come via a few different forms, but before you decide how to measure your goals decide what your goals are in the first place.

  • Conversions: Sales, etc.
  • Lead: Submission forms, contact forms.
  • User behavior: Pageviews, etc.

Think about what the mission of your site is. What was it created to do? Once you have answered this question you will have your goal metrics.

How to Track Goal Metrics

There are three basic types of goal tracking in Google Analytics: ecommerce tracking, event tracking, and standard goal tracking.

Ecommerce Tracking

How to get this: You will need to select the ecommerce site button in the Admin>>Profiles>>Profile Settings>>ecommerce Settings section in Google Analytics. Additionally, you will need to place additional tracking code on your receipt page. Refer to Google’s instructions on tag placement.

What is this good for: This is a must for any site that is transactional as it is critical that you understand transaction and revenue growth. Digging deeper, you can look at transaction success at the keyword or landing page level. Understanding your organic traffic, more than watching high level numbers, is your key to honing in on what is helping you sell, or not helping you sell. Analyzing at a more granular level also allows you to begin looking at your landing pages with an eye on conversion optimization.

Event Tracking

How to get this: Additional code placement on text links, image links and videos. Refer to Google’s instructions on Event tracking code placement.

What is this good for: Event Tracking helps you gain a better understanding of user actions/behaviors on-site. Do you have a goal such as PDF downloads for which you cannot tell through standard tracking those who land on the PDF? This allows you to understand how many of these goals are being reached. Do you have a few key calls to action on the homepage you want to test link click-throughs? Are you engaged in an external site partnership and want to see how many clicks are leaving your site to visit theirs? These are all good situations to use Event tracking.

Standard Goal Tracking

How to get this: This goal method, of the three, is the easiest to implement. By visiting Admin>>Profiles>>Goals from your Google Analytics dashboard you simply can add the type of metric you wish to analyze, whether it be a visitor usage related goal or a URL as a destination.

What is it good for: The latter above is typically the most commonly used value for these type of goal tracking. Do you have a lead/contact submission form? Ensure you have a thank you page after user submission and this can become a goal page. Do you have several different types of lead forms? Then you can use multiple goals for multiple form types, common if some lead types are worth different values to your organization. Be mindful of your match types here though as selecting the wrong type for your goal URL needs whether exact, head or regular expression can cause goal tracking to be inaccurate or broken all together.

Get to Tracking!

This article has only scratched the surface – there is so much to goal/conversion tracking that once you get acquainted with these basics, the analytical possibilities will become seemingly endless. Hopefully it has helped provide a guided approach into the true investment justification of SEO – and offered you a new viewpoint of success.


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