Google Analytics Streamlines Goals

If you're a website owner who tracks visitors' actions using Google Analytics, you're likely using goals. Goals in Google Analytics are ways of tracking if a visitor performed an action that likely affects your bottom line.

Goals are often defined as a specific URL. If a visitor reaches that URL – typically a thank you page after submitting some sort of online form – then the goal is "converted."

Since website goals don't change that often, most site owners don't go into the admin area of their site's Google Analytics profile to redefine them. But the next time you do, you'll be in for a whole new experience.

Last week, the Google Analytics team announced a new, more streamlined way to measure your goals. From the visual layout of the interface, to setting up new goals and all the way through to reporting, working with your analytics goals has changed.

Setting up Goals in Google Analytics

Some visuals have been added to the new goal set-up procedure. The options haven't changed, only the presentation has.

goal-setup-template-google-analytics

The new visuals make it easier to go through the process step-by-step.

One new element to the setup process, however, is the use of goal templates. Just as the name suggests, you can use goal templates to make it easier for you to find and set goals that meet your organization's business objectives.

If you have selected an industry category for your organization in the your site's property settings, Google Analytics will suggest templates based on that industry. Google's goal templates are tailored to meet the needs of businesses within those industry categories.

Goal templates can be customized, but try to pigeon-hole into one of several template categories, depending on the industry you have selected.

Goal Verification - Making Sure it Works

The Google Analytics team has now included a feature called Goal Verification. This feature will allow you to test your goal set up, based on the previous 7 days' worth of data. This is significant because goals are measured starting from the time you define them. If you make a mistake defining a goal and someone converts what you wanted to measure, in the past you would have missed out.

Starting with this new feature, you'll be able to test your goal setup looking back over the prior seven days' worth of data. If you know a goal was converted, but the verification doesn't show any, you'll know you have to redefine your goal.

A similar feature has been available for quite some time for testing advanced segments. Now this preview will be available for newly created goals.

New Goal Reporting

The Analytics team also added new features to the Goals Overview report. You can now see how different goals relate to each other.

Similar to how you can overlay data sets using two different advanced segments in a graph, you can now overlay two goal completions on the same graph. This will allow you to better visualize potential correlations between goals or simply visualize each goals' performance over time.

goal-performance-over-time-google-analytics

The Goal Overview Report isn't the only report that's changed. The Multi-Channel Funnel reports have as well.

Multi-Channel Funnel Reports show a visitor's multiple visits through until conversion. Now they include off-site interactions a visitor may have had with your organization before completing an online goal. That, of course, depends on any external factors you may have to help collect those data.

As usual, the feature is just starting to roll out. If you don't see the changes yet, keep looking over the next few weeks. You will soon. When you see the changes appear, let us know what you think in the comments.

About the author

Thom is a seasoned techincal SEO and digital analytics veteran. His current role as VP of Development and IT at Internet Marketing Ninjas includes the improvement of internal processes, leading the creation and refinement of industry-leading tools across multiple brands.

Previously he was a premier independent consultant, held a a senior search position at nationally renown TopRank Online Marketing and led all digital web-related technology's at Rochester Institute of Technology's Saunders College of Business. He also led analytics strategy efforts for the university's mobile initiative.

Part of the ClickZ Academy faculty, Thom has also taught for several well-respected colleges and universities. He is a regular speaker at ClickZ Live events and is a veteran of TEDx as well.