In the spirit of the new year, I’d love to see everyone resolve to make sure their website is working. No, I don’t mean I want to make sure you have a website that is functioning. I mean I want to make sure you’re getting value from it. I want to make sure it’s actually performing a function! If you have no idea how to do that or what I’m talking about, keep reading.

What’s a goal, you ask? Well, in Google Analytics, a “goal” is the completion of some task on your site. Though goals can get pretty complicated, I’ll just cover the most basic and popular one here. Too often the optional complexity scares people off. I don’t want to scare you off, I want you to start measuring the effectiveness of your site!

Creating a Goal

Note: These instructions are for the new interface of Google Analytics. I’m a strong believer in using the new version but if you’re using the old version, please see Google’s post on the same topic.

For these instructions we’ll be creating a URL Destination goal for a Contact Us form. I am assuming the existence of a “Contact Us” form that sends the visitor to a page named “thank-you.html” after they submit the form.

  1. Log in to Google Analytics and click on the little gear icon on the right
  2. Choose the appropriate profile and click on the Goals tab
  3. Select the “+Goal” link under Goal Set 1 (the goal set doesn’t really matter if you’re just getting started and only have a few goals)
  4. Type a name for your goal in the Goal Name box. You’ll want it to be something appropriate like “Contact Form” or something.
  5. Choose URL Destination from the Goal Type options list.
  6. Enter the name of your confirmation page into the Goal URL box. This is the page that the visitor sees AFTER they perform the action you want them to perform. In this case, we’re sending the visitor to a page named “thank-you.html” after they fill out the form. So, for this example, you put in “/thank-you.html”
  7. Select “Head Match” from the Match Type drop down and select the appropriate case sensitivity. Typically this is unchecked.
  8. Enter a goal value if you have one. This is a whole other blog post but I strongly believe in goal values! Contact me if you want me to write about how to come up with a number for non-transaction type goals.

The Finished Product


Clear As A Bell Summary

So there you have it. It’s pretty easy to start measuring the effectiveness of your website and there are a TON more options available to you for setting goals. However, this should be enough to begin measuring. Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, it’s easy to begin experimenting with other goals in the future. Now with this simple setup, you can begin monitoring your conversion rate, view the goal flow report and take advantage of many other features of Google Analytics that just don’t work until you’ve got some goals created. Happy New Year – and happy measuring!

Jeff is a Project Manager for MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry. He is also a Google Analytics Qualified Individual.