Google Analytics: Using Goals and Events

Google Analytics is a great free tool for tracking valuable metrics on your website.  It has a bunch of standard reports that can tell you how many visitors come to your site, where they came from, what browser they use, what pages they visited, what your most popular pages are, and what keywords are driving the most traffic, just to name a few.   Today, I want to help you make use of two important features of this analytics tool: goals and events.

Setting up Goals

Goals are always good to have, but without goals in Google Analytics you will never know your conversion rate.  Your conversion rate is basically the percentage of visitors to your site who take a desired action.  Every site is different and this is why you must specify your specific goals, or actions, that you want your visitors to take.

For example, take a service business that is looking to get quote requests online.  A customer who requests a quote is sent to a thank you page after they submit the form.  In order to track this as a conversion, all you have to do is set up a goal that tells Google Analytics to count all visits to the thank you page as a conversion.  Since the page is only visited by those who fill out the form, this works great.  Now you can track which websites and keywords are sending you the most quality traffic; or traffic that results in the most conversions.

Get started now!  Go to Google Analytics, click on ‘Goals’ in the left-hand navigation menu and then click on ‘Set up goals and funnels’.  This will take you to your profile setting page.  Scroll down to the ‘Goals’ section and click on ‘Add Goal’ on the right hand side.  Just be sure that the pages you want to track have the analytics code installed!

Creating Events

So what about those actions that don’t take a user to a special page?  That is what events are for!  Events can track when a user clicks on a link, plays a video or views a PDF.  All of these actions require that the user click on something.  All we have to do is attach some information to the link that a user clicks on and Google will track any of these events!

Let’s look at how to set up event tracking.  First, the page must have your Google Analytics code installed.  Second, all you have to do is add the following code to the onclick event in HTML:

pageTracker._trackEvent(category, action, optional_label, optional_value )

Just be sure to change the category to whatever you want to name it and put it in quotes.  Do the same for the action and you can provide an optional label and value if you want.

Suppose you wanted to track how many people follow a link on your site to another website:

<a href=”#” onclick=”pageTracker._trackEvent(‘External Links’, ‘Followed link to another site’, ‘’ )”>my business partner</a>

Google analytics will automatically add categories and actions as events take place so you don’t have to do any additional setup!  To view the results, go to Google Analytics, click on ‘Content’ in the let-hand navigation menu and then click on ‘Event Tracking’.

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