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The most common mistakes around setting up goals in Google Analytics

By Jeremy Smith

The most common mistakes around setting up goals in Google Analytics

One of the most important parts of Google Analytics is the ability to create goals.

Goals are actions people take on your website that you decide are important to your business.

Setting up goals is how you track conversions, which will be the basis for any strategy you try to come up with.

But not everyone has success setting them up. If you get it wrong, then you’re going to make decisions based on false information.

To help you avoid the potential disaster of creating incorrect goals, I wrote this post to go over some of the most common mistake people make when creating goals.

Understand Your Strategy for GA Goals

Everything done correctly in Google Analytics is going to come from an understanding of your business.

Unfortunately, I can’t be an enormous help in a blog post because I don’t know your business. But you do.

Sit down and really think about what matters to you and what conversions move your business forward.

For some, conversions will include completing a form to capture an email, or clicking through to a specific page. For others it will be completing a purchase. This all depends on what your business is and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Don’t make goals for the sake of making goals. Each goal should have a purpose.

Important note – once you create a goal, it cannot be deleted, only renamed. So like I said, really understand your goals before you create them.

Double Counting in GA Data

One of the worst things you can do in Google Analytics is count something more than once.

Having duplicates, especially in your goals, will throw off your data. You’ll be using this information to make decisions about the direction of your company, so you need to make sure it is accurate.

Duplicates can often show up through Google AdWords if you run a PPC campaign, so make sure when you set up your GA dashboard that you are correctly keeping track of everyone visiting your site.

Confusing Naming Conventions Lead to Confusing Reports

Once you set up a goal you won’t be able to delete it. So make the goal simple for people to understand.

Often people give goals complicated names and then go back later and have no idea what the goal is or what it's tracking.

Keep it simple. Keep it concise. Keep it clear.

This is vital information. Someone who hasn’t seen your goals before should be able to come in and look at them and understand what they’re tracking.

Goal vs. Event vs. Enhanced Ecommerce

One of the most important things when thinking about creating goals is to make sure you know what should and shouldn’t be a goal.

Know the difference between a goal, an event and enhanced ecommerce:

  • Goal: This is certain objective you want a user to complete on your site, a conversion. It could be buying a product or submitting a form with contact information.
  • Event: These are used for actions taken that don’t require a page to load. This could be a download, or clicking a video or a mobile ad.
  • Enhanced Ecommerce: Best for ecommerce websites (surprise, I know). It tracks shopping activity like additions to a shopping cart or buying a product.

Each of these three has its own role to play in your business. Make sure you understand the difference before creating your goals.

Stay Up to Date with Your GA Goals

Just because you have goals set up, this doesn’t mean they’re done right.

You remember what your mom used to say about assuming. It’s never a smart thing to do.

If you already have goals set up, go back and double check to make sure they’re collecting correct data. You’re making decisions with this information, so don’t just take it for granted that it’s right.

It never hurts to do your due diligence, but it can cost you if ignore it.

Remember to Add Goals to Multiple Views

This is basic, but it bears repeating because people can be forgetful.

Goals are view specific. What this means is that if you want to see a goal tracked in a certain view, you’re going to have to add it.

Just because you make a goal in one view does not mean it will appear elsewhere. It can if you add it, but it won’t automatically appear anywhere else.

Often people will see a goal in one view and forget they have to apply it to the rest of their views. It’s an easily correctable mistake, but you have to remember to do it.

Learn More About Google Analytics

If you’re using Google Analytics, and you should be, then you should be setting goals for your website. You need to understand what a conversion means to you, and how you track that information.

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Tags: Google Analytics, Google, Goals, GA

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