Introducing Goals in Google Analytics: The Special Needs of Small Bloggers

When we go through the tutorials within Google Analytics itself, goal setting is mentioned frequently as one of “good things to do” with the platform.  But if we’re not selling a product, or trying to herd eyeballs to our pages for click-bait engagement (bleah), is this goal setting truly relevant to us small-bloggers?  What kinds of goals make sense for us small bloggers?

Four Kinds of Goals

Google Analytics help screens point out that there are four kinds of goals it can handle:

  • Destination:  the user reaches a specified web page or app screen.  Some themes have “featured content” boxes, for example.   Some bloggers offer free e-books and downloads. If you’re hoping people will see your featured content and then GO there,  this goal would track how many viewers made that journey.Destination goals can be set when we want our audience to take a specific path through the site, say, from our static page, to our latest post, to our email signup form.  These specific paths are called “funnels.” When we specify the steps in our funnel, then Google can tell us whether –and where–audience “steps off the path.”Does that irritating banner that slams down demanding that someone cough up their email address–does that chase people off?   (They call those things “welcome mats.”)  If so, how many?
  • Duration:  the user spends a specified minimum amount of time on your site or app. This will answer questions like whether or not people run, screaming in the night, from our  page after they open it. 🙂 I post long posts.  Do people stick around to read them all the way through?  That might take ten minutes or so for this blog.How many people read the post in its entirety?  A duration goal would help me find out!A duration goal  might also help me test whether or not a new theme design is better than an old one.   First, I’d need to collect the duration data for the old (or present) theme. Then I would change themes– collect more data on duration rates for the new theme–and compare!
  • Page/Screens per session:  The user views a specified minimum number of pages or screens.  I often get multiple views of my latest blog post, then single digit views of other, earlier pages. Is that one curious audience member? Or two or three, looking at different pages?
  • Event: the use conducts a specified action, like viewing a video. Typically, bloggers want to know when a post is tweeted, Facebooked, Pinned and so forth.  We might want to know if anyone is watching the videos we post, or how they interacted with our “join my email list” subscriber button.  Event goals have to involve web objects–buttons and videos and forms, for instance.  These are the Event Goals.

Google Analytics has some “wizards” for creating goals either using templates or a custom configuration.   The help guide explains that the templates are designed for common business interests–and they can be small goals (“micro-goals”) or big (“macro-goals”). The wizards are pre-configured, the custom configurations far more complicated–with the ability to set dollar values to goals if you want.

A Quick Look at Setting Goals

Setting goals is easy to do, but the specific steps are a little tricky.  In the Google Analytics Home page, there’s a link waaaay down on the lower left corner called ADMIN.   Because the screen is button for ADMIN is SO FAR DOWN THE PAGE, I’ve inserted my screen shot here as full size to give you an idea where to look (bottom of the screen on the left).

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Click that link with the little wheel that says ADMIN  and we get the Administration overview.  The Goals link is third from the top.

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Click Goals and then in the middle of the screen you’ll see the link for the wizard.

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The TEMPLATE button is checked by default.  Note that there is NO template for “Page view duration.”   We want to choose the “Custom” goal.

Custom Goal.png

Next, we get this screen. We must NAME our goal. I named this one “Page view Duration.”  I could’ve called it “Goal 1” or something, but a descriptive name will be useful later on.Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 6.55.23 PM

Note that the Goal Id 1/Goal Set 1 is useful when you have a number of different goals, useful for mid-sized to large blogs with complex issues, such as e-commerce.  One day, perhaps, we will get there. 🙂  You do not set this at this time–because it’s my first goal.  It’s more about prioritizing goals later on.  For now, we CONTINUE.  And we get this screen, where we set Duration.   I set my goal for five minutes. 

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Do you see the blue link above the SAVE button?  This tells you how often you would’ve made this goal in the past seven days, if it had been turned on THEN.  My data is buggered up since I did not mask my own IP the first day.

But I do get this statistic when I click on that link– a result of 18.18%. Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 6.56.23 PM

This means that 18.18% of my visitors spent more than five minutes on my pages.  Sounds just terrible, but that’s why you need to mask your IP right away.  So you don’t damage your own statistical data. It will be awhile before my stats recover from that.

SAVE and we’re done!

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And that’s how you set your first goal.  We’ll look in on our results in a week or two.

Thanks for dropping by.

Best, Lola

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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