Google Analytics Goals and Funnels: Back to Basics



Goals are great and it is amazing how many people don't have them setup! Goals allow you to track visitors who convert on your site, so they can provide you with really quick insights with only a few minutes of setup time.

And if you already have goals setup within Google Analytics, then I would encourage you to take a few minutes to double check you have everything setup correctly. Also, checkout the new engagement goals that are available.

Uses For Google Analytics Goals And Funnels:

  • Ecommerce transactions
  • Email newsletter subscriptions
  • Contact form leads
  • Whitepaper and PDF downloads
  • Views of critical pages

Getting Started:

To start out I would suggest setting up a traditional goal, which is simply based on the view of a key page on your site, a thank you page is best.

Start by navigating and completing the steps you expect people to take to get to the thank you page. As you go record the URLs of the pages you visit, all the way to the thank you page.

Here is an email newsletter subscription example;

1. 2. 3. 4.

In this example I have gone from the homepage, to the news section, to the subscription form to the thank you page.

I would suggest that you just use the subscription form and the thank you page as the goal steps in this case, because people might come from other sections or pages on your site to the subscription form and so the first two steps are considered optional.

Setting Up Your Goal:

1. Click 'Edit' for the profile you are setting up a goal for on the Google Analytics account overview page.

2. Click 'Add Goal' next to a goal set.

3. Give the goal a suitable name (e.g. Newsletter Subscription).

4. Ensure 'Active Goal' is set to 'On'.

5. Set 'Goal Type' as 'URL Destination'.



6. By default match type is set to 'Head Match', leaving this default setting works in most cases.

  • Head Match: matches part of the URL (e.g. entering /page.html will match for /page.html?id=18 and /page.html?id=204)
  • Exact Match: matches the exact URL (check the top content report to ensure the URL is being tracked by Google Analytics)
  • Regular Expression Match: matches the URL based on regular expressions.

7. Enter the final conversion page as the goal URL. This is generally the thank you or receipt page. You generally want to set a goal URL that is not accessible unless a visitor has completed your desired process.

8. Optional: If your goal has a particular value you can set the dollar value for the 'goal value' input. (If you have an ecommerce site, you should setup ecommerce reporting and not set a goal value.)



9. Enter the URLs of the steps required to complete the process and give each step a suitable name. (Click 'Add Goal Funnel Step' and repeat for all the steps you have defined as critical to completing the goal.)



10. Click 'Save Changes'.