Most people see Google Analytics as a confusing collection of website data and other kinds of data. But to track your website’s and campaigns’ success better, you should know about four important goals in Google Analytics.

In this blog, we’ll review the basics of Google Analytics goals. We’ll talk about the four types of goals, why they’re important, and other frequently asked questions.

Now, let’s get started.

What is a Google Analytics Goal?

According to Analytics Help, Google Analytics uses goals to measure how often users complete specific actions.

Google Analytics goals evaluate how effectively your website or app achieves its intended goals. A goal is a completed task, also known as a conversion, that helps your business grow.

What Are the Four Types of Google Analytics Goals?

Based on your website data and analytics, you can categorize each interaction into one of the following four Google Analytics goals:

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

Now, let’s go over each of them.

Google Analytics Goal Type #1: Destination

A destination goal in Google Analytics is a goal that occurs when a particular page on your website loads, such as when a user accesses the order confirmation or thank you page at a specific URL address like ” /thank-you.” 

google analytics url destination goals examples

This type of Google Analytics goal is designed for when users arrive at their destination, the specific URL that signals a conversion completed. This way, the goal is met every time someone accesses that URL. 

Google Analytics goals are also ideal for redirecting website visitors to PDFs, other downloadables, thank you sites or purchase confirmation/submission sites.

Google Analytics Goal Type #2: Duration

The second Google Analytics goal that you can track is duration. The duration goal can calculate conversion rates based on how long visitors stay on your website before they bounce off. 

Duration goal types help track user activity across your website and identify the most popular pages.

So, duration goals are also about specific times. Google Analytics lets you track website visits that last less than a certain defined time. If you wonder why this is valuable, think of customer service websites. They’re more interested in knowing if their efforts are working and if their responses to users’ questions are answered as quickly as possible.

Now, for the question of the millennium. How does GA measure all of this? 

With the duration goal time, Google Analytics can only track when a website’s page loads but not when people leave the site. All of this is made possible by the Google Analytics Tracking Code, which businesses install on the backend of their site to track information. This information is sent to Google Analytics servers as timestamps for each visit to your site.

A Google Analytics tracking code is a piece of JavaScript that transmits information about website visitor sessions to Google Analytics.

I know that’s a lot to take in at once but bear with me; we’ll keep explaining further down the line.

Google Analytics Goal Type #3: Pages/Screens per session

The next goal type is the pages or screens per session, which means the pages or screens that individual users loaded at a time.

This Google Analytics goal counts the number of pages each website visits before leaving your website rather than how much time they spend there. It’s excellent for measuring site interaction and identifying areas of your website that can benefit from changes. 

This goal is met when a user views a certain amount of pages or screens during a session (e.g., ten pages or more have been loaded). 

Google Analytics Goal Type #4: Event

Finally, an event goal is a unique goal type. Events are useful for tracking user activities on your website that Google Analytics does not often record.

For instance, Google Analytics does not, by default, allow you to track the following interactions:

  • Form completions without a thank-you page
  • Outbound link clicks
  • Clicking a button
  • Downloadables (PDFs)

Setting up a Google Analytics event is the only way to track these interactions.

As you know, events are also a technique to monitor user activity on a website to understand their behavior better. There are three components to an event:

  1. Category
  2. Action
  3. Label

set up event goal google analytics

The 3 Most Common Misconceptions Made With Goals in Google Analytics

Understanding Google Analytics, just like with any complicated analytics tool, can easily become overwhelming, and you may end up misusing or misunderstanding it. 

To make precise, informed marketing decisions, you must know where to go for the data you need and what it represents.

Let’s go over the common misconceptions people make about Google Analytics goals so you can feel more confident about the data and what it shows you.

First Misconception: “Sessions” in Google Analytics are equivalent to “Visits”

A session, according to Google, is “a collection of user interactions with your website that happen throughout a specific time.” Google also tells us to think of a session as the “container” for the user’s activity while on your website.

The standard session length is 30 minutes. The 30-minute minimum session starts when a user interacts with the website for the first time (by clicking a link, going to another page, or completing a transaction, for example). Even if the user still has the website open in their browser, the session ends if they don’t interact with it again within 30 minutes.

What happens if the user waits more than 30 minutes before acting again? In that situation, a new session begins when the user performs a new action. As a result, any user could participate in multiple sessions during a single visit.

A visit is defined as the act of visiting your website in a browser tab and leaving it open.

A session tracks a certain “chunk” of user activities, usually connected by a single chain of intentions. A session provides much more information on the narrative of a specific user’s interaction with your website, including the steps they took and their motivations.

So, a session and a visit on Google Analytics are not interchangeable terms.

Second Misconception: Time on page and Session duration are the same thing

Google Analytics now uses average Session Duration and Average Time on Page metrics, but they differ.

The Acquisition report in Google Analytics is where you’ll find the duration of an average user session. And the Behavior report in Google Analytics will show the average time on page.

Time on page is the average amount of time a user spends on a specific page of your website.

To clarify, “session duration” refers to the total time spent actively using a website, and “time on page” relates solely to a specific page.

When a visitor visits more than one page on your website during a session, the “time on page” indicator only tracks that time.

The average sessions metric is featured in the Acquisition reports. In those reports, you’re most interested in the general user experience and usage of the site, depending on how they found your site—whether through a search result, a social media link, an ad, directly typing your site address into a browser, etc.

Third Misconception: Google Analytics’ default channels classify all of your traffic correctly

In the Acquisition reports section of Google Analytics, a default set of “channels” is available for your convenience. These channels are the high-volume, significant traffic sources for most websites. 

default channels set google analytics

Analytics determines which channel bucket any incoming traffic should be assigned to using given source data. That works the majority of the time flawlessly.

The “Other” channel is frequently used when Google Analytics cannot accurately identify the traffic source. If you discover that a sizable portion of your traffic is coming from an Other channel, you might have more misattribution than you should be comfortable with.

Wrapping Up: Why Google Analytics Goals Matter

Goal creation is one of Google Analytics’ most crucial features.

If you want your business to be successful, using data from Google Analytics to guide your decisions and monitor your achievements and failures is essential.

The main challenge with Google Analytics’ goals is identifying the crucial business activities, which might vary greatly based on the type of company. For example, an ecommerce site will have different Google Analytics goals than a lead generation one.

Although there are instances where websites lack a clear aim, you may still define and measure user behavior by using engagement and event-based goals, as you have seen above. 

Don’t lose sight of the end goal and use these goals to score more goals!

Google Analytics Goals FAQs

Which goals are available in Google Analytics?

The goals readily available in Google Analytics are Destination, Duration, Pages/Screens per session, and Event.

You can track eligible website visitors from a PPC campaign using the Google Ads’ Smart Goals feature.

Which kinds of hits does Google Analytics track?

It tracks events, page views, screen views, social interactions, e-commerce hits, user timing hits, and exception hits.

How to delete a goal in Google Analytics?

In other words, once you set a goal, the associated data will remain in your reports permanently. The data in the reports won’t be changed if you go back and adjust the target.

You can edit the goal, give it a “-” name, make it inactive, and erase all other data. Although you can’t leave the goal name or goal URL empty (doing so will result in an error), if you name those fields with just a dash, you’ll see that it’s a blank goal you can reuse.

You can always use the slots taken up by inactive goals. Remember that if you do this, your reports will still have the old goal information for the inactive goal.

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