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4 different types of goals in Google Analytics

Jason Roy

Google Analytics is a fantastic web analytics tool that could give you answers to several important questions regarding your website, traffic, and online business.

For example:

  • Who is your target audience and what do they like?
  • How do they get to your website?
  • Which pages generate the most traffic for your site?
  • What is the bounce rate on your website?

Many — in fact, most — business owners and webmasters focus on these metrics and pieces of information. The problem, however, is that they never go beyond these metrics.

While all these pieces of information are very important to paint the overall picture of your business, they do not tell you how much revenue your website is generating.

Ultimately, finding whether or not your website actually helps your business and generates money at a good ROI is much more important.

In other words, you should be more interested in:

  • How many leads did your website generate for your sales team to follow up?
  • How many product demos were requested from your landing pages?
  • How many potential customers subscribed to your weekly newsletter?
  • How many potential leads downloaded that whitepaper and entered into the sales funnel?

These are much more meaningful metrics if you are trying to improve the profitability of your business.

Thankfully, Google Analytics allows you to do all that and more once you set up certain goals for tracking.

What are goals?

As we just mentioned, Google Analytics can track pretty much everything for you. However, first, you will have to tell Google Analytics what it needs to track.

You define your goals, and then Google Analytics start tracking the progress of these goals.

Goals could be anything, for example:

  • Whitepaper downloads
  • Demo requests
  • Multiple page visits
  • Users spending a certain amount of time on your website.

In this blog post, we will explain the four different types of goals in Google Analytics and how to set them up.

How to set up goals in Google Analytics?

Let’s start with where to find goals in Google Analytics.

  • Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard and click on the ‘Admin’ button in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  • Make sure that you have the correct ‘View’ selected’ (in case you use multiple views).
  • Click on ‘Goals’.

Once you are in the ‘Goals’ section, click “+Goal” to set up a new goal.

Following are a few tips to remember before we jump into the section where we explain the four different types of goals we have in GA.

  • Tip #1 — When you name the goal, make it descriptive enough so you can easily recognize it. It is important to understand that the name of the goal will pop up pretty much everywhere in Google Analytics, so it should be descriptive and clear. There is no point if you have to constantly go back and check what the goal was all about. Unclear and ambiguous goal names especially become a problem after you have set up multiple goals.
  • Tip #2 — Think ahead before you set up goals. Google Analytics does not allow you to delete your goals because it permanently applies goals when compiling data for your reports. It means that you can only deactivate goals, but you cannot permanently delete your goals.
  • Tip #3 — Selecting the ‘name’ of the goal isn’t the only thing you will have to plan for. Make sure you fully understand the type of goal you want to track. This brings us to the next (and the most important) section of this blog post.

In Google Analytics, you can set four different types of goals:

  • URL Destination goals
  • Visit Duration goals
  • Page/Visit goals
  • Events

Let’s describe each of these different types separately:

1. URL Destination goals

This is one of the most commonly used types of goal. You will be using URL Destination goals a lot.

In summary, URL Destination goals keep track of specific URLs and whenever someone visits the specified URL(s), that triggers the goal.

For example, you have a web page with the URL "". If a visitor lands on this URL — it doesn’t matter how — Google Analytics will treat it as if your goal was achieved.

The URL Destination goals are perfect for thank-you pages, confirmation pages, downloads, sales, etc. For instance, when someone completes a transaction, he is redirected to a thank-you page. By tracking how many people reached that thank-you page, you will be able to track how many people purchased from you.

Just make sure to keep that URL hidden so nobody can directly access it. The only way to land on that web page should be to go through the sales funnel and buy the product. That’ll lead to 100% accurate tracking.

2. Visit Duration goals

Visit Duration goals are used to track how many people stay on your site for a specific amount of time.

This type of goal comes in handy when you are trying to increase engagement on your website and improve the amount of time users spend on your site.

One important thing to remember is that you can use the Visit Duration goal type in two ways.

Let’s suppose you have set 3 minutes as the time you want people to spend on your site. You can identify the number of visitors who stay for more than 3 minutes. However, you can also identify the number of visitors who spend less than 3 minutes.

The tip is to select a time duration that some people will spend on your website. If almost everybody does it, the goal will have no value, and you will find it difficult to truly improve your site.

3. Pages/Visit goals

Instead of tracking how much time people spend on your website (Visit Duration goals), you can also track how many pages they visit before they leave your site (Pages/Visit goals).

The Pages/Visit goal is set up pretty much the same way as the Visit Duration goals.

If you want to keep your users engaged and want them to visit multiple pages on your site, this is the goal you should set. Moreover, the Pages/Visit goal is very frequently used by customer support websites.

4. Events

Events are slightly more tricky and complex than the three goal types we just explained.

Before you select an event as a goal, you will first have to set up the events. Once the events are set up, you can select any event as a goal.

Setting up events may require you to add a JavaScript code to the element you want to track, e.g., a button click, playing a video, downloads, etc.

Then whenever a user interacts with that element (for example, a download button), it can be tracked with event goals.

If you want to learn more about event tracking, read the Google Analytics Event Tracking Guide.

What’s next?

Goals play an important role in Google Analytics. As we mentioned earlier, they allow you to keep track of things that really matter, e.g., sales, downloads, demos, leads, etc.

If you want to learn more about Google Analytics, we suggest reading the following articles:

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