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In Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a web site, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness. This course covers the out-of-the-box functionality, from account creation to reporting fundamentals, and explains how to glean insights from the vast array of data available.
It's an unfortunate reality that the majority of accounts don't have the most important thing configured, goals. It's tragic really, because it's so easy to do and statistically speaking, most of you probably don't have your goals configured either. But hopefully now you are convinced to stop hit-counting and start evaluating, and this chapter is going to help you do just that. Now at a couple of points in this course we have asked you to start brainstorming why you have a site and what goals are you trying to configure? Well, now it's time for the rubber to meet the road and actually put some down and configure these goals.
Some sites have extremely complex analysis needs and goal configurations to match. Our goal here in the Essentials course isn't to overwhelm you with every single possibility and corner case that could possibly arise, but rather to give you the essentials you need to get some basic goals up and running. Let's jump to an example. The process we are going to go through here is really quite simple. We are actually going to go to the site, and the first thing we are going to do is just go through that process as if we were the visitor completing the goal. And what we are going to do is we are going to copy down every single URL that we hit. So the first thing I am going to do is just copy the URL into a plain text editor and go through the process step by step like anyone else who is visiting your site.
Come to the site. In this example, we are going to submit a contact form as our goal. So we come here, and the first thing I am going to do is copy down that URL. Open simple text editor and paste it in. Go back to my site, fill out a test form here, make it clear to anyone who receives it that this is a test, and Submit. Now this is my final Thank You page.
This is the goal that I wanted people to reach, so I go ahead and copy that down and paste it here as my submission page complete. Now one of the main reasons that I do this is I need to make sure that every single step here is unique, especially that this goal page is unique from the previous page to it. Sometimes we see forms where there is no final thank you page. You fill out the values in the form, you click Submit, but the URL hasn't actually changed at all. Let's a take a look at an example like that. If I came here and I submitted this Contact page here, so just like we did before, scroll down and submit this as if we were a user, now if you watch the URL up here, notice that when I submit this, even though I get a successful completion here--it says, Thanks! it's been submitted-- my URL up here hasn't changed at all.
So if I were to copy this down and submit this as my goal, then I wouldn't just get the people who actually submitted the form; I would also get all the people who just view the form as a blank or really all the people who came to this page at all. So this is why it's really important go through this process and make sure the Thank You page that we get is actually unique from the others, so that you can track the goals that you mean to track. If you don't have you any thank you confirmation page like we had here, it doesn't mean you can track goals; it just means you have got a bit more of advanced configuration. You are going to have to work with your administrator to create either a unique page, or you can manually a fire virtual page view, which your programming team can help with.
For now, we are going to take our example that did have the unique Thank you page and continue on with goal setup. Let me back to our text editor. One of the things that's important about this is we don't care it all about this part of the URL that has the domain and the protocol; all I care about is everything from the slash and after. In this part we are calling the request URI, is what Google Analytics is going to look for to match the goal. So I go ahead and copy this in. Come back here to Google Analytics. I am going to go under the profile where we are going to set up the goal, click on our Settings, and come down here to the Goals link.
We have got several Goal Sets here in which you can create goals. I suggest you give some thought to this organization. One way might be to have your primary, most important goals here in Goals (Set 1). You could put some secondary goals over here in tab two, maybe some engagement goals like time on-site or number of page view is Goals (Set 3), and even some negative goals like newsletter unsubscribes or funnel errors down here in tab four. But it's completely up to you. For now I am going to add another goal here to Goals (Set 1) and I am going to give it a proper name. You want to make these names relatively short since they are going to be the column titles in all the reports.
We are going to mark the goal as Active. In this case, we are going to use the traditional URL Destination type goal. Here in the Goal URL I am going to go ahead and paste in that requested URI I have got. In case you need a reminder down here, it's going to tell you that you don't want any of the domain information--just everything from the slash and on. Our next option here is the Match Type. We could do Exact Match, Head Match, or Regular Expression Match. We will go into these a bit more later, but for now we can just keep it on the default Exact Match. We also have the option of case sensitivity. Now I've never seen a case where a goal is actually case sensitive, but I guess it's possible you may have one.
And here is where we can also set the optional Goal Value. So if I know that every time I get a Contact Us message--for argument's sake, let's say it's worth $25--then I can go ahead and put 25 in there, and Google Analytics will record $25 every time that we get a successful goal completion. The next step down here is you optionally have the ability to create a funnel. Now not every goal needs a funnel, but in the cases like a shopping cart or a Contact Us form where there is a linear progression from one step to the next, it can be helpful to have a funnel. We will go ahead and put that in. For Goal Step 1, I actually want to go back to my text editor here and I want to grab the request URI, that first step.
I am going to copy that in and just paste it here into Step 1. Give it a name. Now one thing that's important is I don't want to put the Goal URL as a funnel step. That's already taken care of up here in the Goal URL. The funnel steps down here is just the steps that lead up to that. Go ahead and click Save and you can see where your new goal has been created right here. And that's it. Hopefully you will agree it wasn't too tough, and it's a shame that more folks don't take the time to set it up. If I go into my Reports--let's say the All Traffic sources report here-- I am going to see that I have got my Goal Set 1, and the goal that I have set up over here, the Contact Submit, is going to be our Goal2.
We just set up this profile and this goal, so we don't have any data yet, but we would see it here as visitors start to come and use our site. Now let's go back for one second to talk about the different types of matches. I am going to click back here into my Goal Settings, click on Goals, and I am going to click on the one we just created. In our case, we knew exactly the URL the thank you page was, and we didn't have anything more, anything less, when we were trying to match multiple goals. So we could set this as an Exact Match. But let's go back to our text editor for a second. Let's say that instead of just the thank-you/contact, we actually had a message id on the end here.
So let's say we had something like this, messageid=. Now in this case, we wouldn't want to just set this entire request URI here to be the goal, because each time someone submits the form, they are going to get a unique message ID, and therefore you would only ever match at most one goal. What we want to do is tell Google Analytics to match this first part here but ignore the second part. So what that is, it's called a head match. If I copy that in there, I select head match and what I'm saying to Google Analytics, when you see this first part consider that a goal and ignore anything that comes after it.
This is most useful when you have those query string parameters on then end that are going to interfere with your ability to create that exact match. The last option we have down here is a regular expression match. Regular expressions are type of programming language used to specify patterns. There are lots and lots of advanced configuration reasons why you might want to use those, and we are not going to get into all of it here. But one common one we will take a look at is if I want to match multiple goals. So for this example, I have another Contact form on our site that you get to from a different place, and I want to match both of those with this goal. I don't care how you have submitted the Contact form or where you were; I just want to know that a Contact form is submitted.
Let's go back to our text editor. In this case, I have got my request URI that we found here before, and that's going to be our primary. But let's say there is another URL where the request URI was something like /feedback-submitted. Now in this case I want to match either one of these, so what I am going to do is I am going to use this vertical pipe character here. What that's going to do is say you can either match this or that, and I could put some parentheses in here to make it more clear.
This Pipe means "or," so if you match this here or the second one here, then we are going to submit the goal. So we take this entire thing, copy that in as our Goal URL and select Regular Expression Match. Now what Google Analytics is going to evaluate this Regular Expression Match if we match either this or that it's going to submit the goal just like before. Everything else stays mostly the same except you may have to look at your funnel steps as well. In this case, I am just going to remove my funnel entirely. So this is how we create a goal based on a particular URL.
But we also have two other types of goals known as threshold goals or engagement goals. Let's say, for example, my goal as a publisher was to get people stay on the site for a long time, read my content, view my videos, et cetera. I could come over here and select Time On Site and I could say, well, I want it to be greater than let's say 5 minutes. In this case, anyone here who is on the site for more than five minutes, regardless of if they did anything like submitting forms or checking out, would be considered a goal. Similarly, I can also go up here and select Pages/Visit.
I could say that anytime a person has visited more than let's say five pages, that person would also be considered to have completed my goal. The last option down here are event-based goals. Events are an advanced configuration features that allow you to track interactions with your site that don't necessarily load a new page view, like playing a video or downloading a file. If you have events set up to track these things, you can also set goals based on these interactions. We won't go into too much detail on how to create the code for events here, since the programming required is a bit outside the scope of this course. But similar to the other goals, we define the goals here using these fields, we assign a value, and click Save.
That's basically all there is to goal setup and the value of goals makes them far and away worth it's relatively small effort to configure them. So please, stop committing those crimes against humanity and get yourself the gift of some goals.
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