December 09, 2013

Google Analytics provides a lot of information straight out of the box about sources of site traffic, browsers, and even social media interactions. To get to the aspects of your business that are really at the core of your site though, you need to put in some effort surrounding goals. Sign ups, purchases, downloads; these are the factors that matter to your bottom line, and thus the things you really need to be seeing in Google Analytics.

There are four types of goal in Google Analytics: destination, duration, pages per visit, and events. We’re going to go over each goal type, why they are important, and how to set them up properly.

Destination Goals

Destination goals are triggered when a user arrives at a certain URL on your site.

Example Usage

These goals are ideal for confirmation, thank you, or download pages. Google Analytics allows you to customize the URL though so you can set up a destination goal for any page you consider as somewhere you want to drive traffic.

Destination Goal Example


In your Google Analytics Account, click Admin > Goals (Under View) > Create A Goal then select the type of goal you’d like to set up. If you don’t want to use one of Google Analytics’ templates, simply click Custom at the bottom.

Step 1

Choose a destination goal:

Step 2

Enter the URL that you’d like to count as a goal. Enter only the part that comes after the domain (ex: /thankyou instead of Set a value for that particular page if applicable, and add steps in your funnel to analyze the entrance points that contribute to this goal.

Step 3

Duration Goals

Duration goals are ideal for measuring either how much a user engages with a certain page on your site. While a user is logged in and viewing a certain page (reports, newsfeed, etc.) the intent is to have the user engaged for a longer period of time.

Example Usage

Help pages, media content (view video/slideshow), create a report, analyze data, view recommended products, etc.


Admin > Goals (Under View) > Create A Goal > Template or Custom Goal > Duration > Enter a number for the Greater Than field.

Step 3

Pages Per Visit Goals

Pages per visit is similar to a duration goal in that it measures how engaged a customers are with your site. However, it instead measures how many pages people move through, instead of how much time is spent on each page. Use your best judgment to decide whether duration or pages per visit makes more sense to analyze for your specific business. If you want people creating charts and working on the same page for an hour, duration is appropriate. If you want users scanning through pages and pages of your products (think Amazon) then pages per visit is more appropriate.

Example Usage

Use pages per visit goals for customer support sites to find out how many articles a user searched through before finding their answer, or even see how many blog posts a users read during a single visit.


Admin > Goals (Under View) > Create A Goal > Template or Custom Goal > Pages per Visit > Enter a number for the Greater Than field.

Step 3

Event Goals

Event goals can serve as a way to tell specifically how users are engaging with your site. If duration and pages per visit tell you how much time users spend on your site, event goals will tell you what they’re doing with that time. Essentially anything you build on your website that users can engage with can be tracked as an event.

Example Usage

This is very specific to your website but some common events to track might be social shares, beginning a video, uploading some data, connecting a service, adding items to shopping cart, etc.


Admin > Goals (Under View) > Create A Goal > Template or Custom Goal > Event.

Events are a little trickier because they require you to enter actual code within your site to track the event. Read up more about it from Google here(analytics.js) or here(ga.js). Next you’ll be asked to enter category, action, label and value. The category is broad so in the example below I used social media reach. Action is Follow on Twitter, so someone clicked the Follow button on the home page. Use the label for further clarification.

How-to Setup Event Tracking in Google Analytics

Now you’ve seen how to set up destination, duration, pages per visit and event goals. All of these are essential to understanding how your customer behaves and what tips them over the edge to converting, however your business defines converting. Don’t settle for just traffic data in Google Analytics, set up custom goals easily and quickly to ensure you understand how your customers behave and purchase. We even have more goals for you to track here.

What goals do you find most useful in Google Analytics? Share your comments below.

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