Most of us have things we want to accomplish, and whether they’re personal or professional, written down on a post-it note or internally documented, they are vital in tracking the success (or failures) of our endeavors. Search engine optimization allows a business to see the blood, sweat, and tears behind the creation of a website and Google Analytics gives us something tangible to “check off the list”.

While tracking bounce rates and traffic sources lets us know where our website stands among the rest of the searchable content in Google, sometimes we need to know if our SEO efforts are paying off in terms of site activity. As Jerry Maguire put it, “Show me the money.” This is where the goal function comes in.

As I’m learning the ins and outs of SEO myself, Google Analytics has a lot of intimidating data that can seem daunting. However, their goal function can fill in a lot of gaps in your SEO analysis. I’ve found that Google offers plenty of step-by-step goal-setting help for those of us who need a little guidance on the Google Analytics support page.

Google Analytics Goal Setting

Google Analytics Goal Setting

Google Analytics Goals is a tool that businesses can use to understand how website activity fits into the bigger picture –think revenue, social engagement, and how visitors are navigating your site. There’s no use in having a website if people aren’t using it, and Google can help a website to live up to its potential. The function is easy to use — simply log in to your Google Analytics account, go to the Admin section and the goal function will be waiting for you under the profile navigation.

Before setting goals, brainstorm the most important things you want to see and give them a general value. Like any goal, these should be thoughtful and fully developed. As your business evolves, so will your ambitions. Take a look at this starter list of some initial objectives that Google Analytics can help you track, and learn how you can get the most out of your site with this feature:

Track what people buy
For many websites, ecommerce is a vital part of the health of your business, and recording the number of people who are making purchases online can help you understand things on your site that need an update. For instance, Google allows you to:

  • See what people buy
  • How many transactions are made
  • How long it takes a visitor to make a purchase

From this, you’ll see:

  • If people are having trouble making purchases, this could be a design failure. Is your site clunky and difficult to navigate?
  • What people like – an easy way to get the inside scoop on your popular merchandise or services. Do you have a product whose sales are through the roof?
  • What sales and services you can offer to customers – scope out the competition and give your customers deals to keep them coming back. Does your site offer free shipping on certain purchases?
  • Find the funnels
    Don’t waste time analyzing what went wrong on your site. Set up a goal funnel to get step-by-step access to what visitors are doing on your pages and where you may have lost them before a purchase was made. Funnels make it easy to track a visitor’s entrance to the site all the way to a purchase, and Google allows you ten steps in the funnel to get there. And don’t worry about getting lost in the shuffle, Google tracks visitors who jump in mid-step in your funnel. If visitors are having trouble navigating your site or are unable to see what you want them to find, funnels can pinpoint the culprit.

    Create a successful event
    Is your site a social success? Find out with the event function of Google Analytics Goals. Here you’ll discover how many people are using the widgets on your site, ad clicks and downloads, or watching embedded YouTube videos. Event tracking is also useful for sites that rely on Flash — think menus, movie players, and flash-driven widgets.

    There’s no time like the present to start setting goals. How many of you have been using Google Analytics Goals, and what’s working best for you?