How To Set Up Goals In Google Analytics

Do you have an easy way to see when a user either opt-ins or makes a purchase where that person actually came from? Understanding how your users find you is a necessity in any business. Learn how to set up goals in Google Analytics so you can see your conversions by traffic source. Knowing how users move through your funnel will help you refine your content strategy and have a better return on investment (ROI).

Google Analytics collects a myriad of information about our site users but unless we define a few things, it won’t be useful information. We need to tell Google Analytics exactly what we are looking for so the data can be presented in a way that actually makes sense. One way to do this is by setting up goals. A goal is simply what we want our users to do on our website.

Setting up a destination goal will not only allow you to see your conversions but also what traffic source is contributing to the conversions. Destination goals trigger once the user hits a certain page, hence the name destination. You define the page URL within a goal and when a user comes to that URL Google Analytics tracks it as a conversion.


We often associate a conversion with an exchange of money but in Google Analytics a conversion can be any completed activity. For example, a conversion can be a confirmation page from a purchase or a thank you page from an opt-in. You do not need to be selling anything on your website to receive the benefits of setting up a goal. Setting up goals in Google Analytics can be incredibly useful from a lead perspective to see which sources of your traffic is actually generating more leads. A conversion can be anything that is important to your business. By setting up goals you have another piece of the puzzle that can be helpful when strategizing to move the needle forward in your buinsess.

Knowing what traffic source is attributing to the most sales can help you do more of what is working and less of what isn’t. It’s incredibly insightful to see how your traffic converts. Sometimes your highest sources of traffic or users are not what’s actually bringing in the most conversions. Conversion by traffic source is powerful data.

I will show you exactly how to set up goals in Google Analytics so you can use your data to make profit-generating marketing decisions. Let’s jump in.

How To Set Up Goals In Google Analytics

When setting up a destination goal in Google Analytics, the first thing you want to do is decide on what page URL you will be using as your goal. Let’s say you want the goal to fire every time someone sees your thank you page because if they see your thank you page you know they submitted your form (or made a purchase).

To create your goal head over to your admin panel. Goals are added in the View section. Choose the view you want to add your goal to. For a refresher on views and why you should have at least three, check out my blog post on filtering out your own site visits where I also talk about the importance of Views. Once you are in the correct view, click on Goals. Then click the red button +NEW GOAL. Scroll down and select Custom and then click Continue. Next, you will give your Goal a name. Such as Form Submission. Under Type select Destination and click Continue.

There are three ways to add in the Goal details. Use the caret symbol to select an option. ‘Regular expression’ is a bit more advanced. It uses symbols to define information. The option ‘Equals to’ has to match exactly what is entered. The option ‘Begins with’ means it begins with whatever you enter but can end with anything.

How to set up goals in Google Analytics

For our example here I will select the Begins with option. You will enter the ‘page’ part of your URL. That is everything after the domain including the forward slash. For example, if your website is http://websitename.com/thank-you you would enter /thank-you.

The next two steps are optional; Value and Funnels. You can add a Value if you would like to assign a monetary value to the goal. This can be useful for tracking ROI. If you have additional pages you want to track to capture a multi-step conversion process you also have the option to set the goal up as a Funnel. Again those are both optional.

That’s it! Hit Save. That is all you have to do to successfully set up a destination goal to start tracking conversions by traffic source.

View your Goal Conversions

Now that you know how to set up goals in Google Analytics, where can you see the actual conversions? These are several places to view your goal conversions, but my favorite report to use is the source/medium report. This is because in your source/medium report you can see user acquisition, behavior, and conversion all by traffic source!

Setting up goals is the icing on the cake of your source/medium report. When you have goals set up you are actually able to see not only where your traffic is coming from, but the behavior that they’re taking and the conversion. The source/medium allows you to easily view this information all together in one report.

Key Takeaways – How To Set Up Goals in Google Analytics

Any business that has a website should be asking where are my users coming from and how are they converting on my website. Using goals to define certain activities that you want your users to do is a simple way to measure just that. Using these metrics will help you predict future outcomes and make better profit-generating marketing decisions.

Are you looking for an easy way to look at your traffic data without having to go into Google Analytics? We use a tool called Google Data Studio. It actually pulls data right from Google Analytics and it makes reporting easier to understand. With a quick glance at your metrics, you know immediately what actions you need to take to get different or better results. Gone are the days of combing through pages and pages of numbers.