Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | January 16, 2014

Destination URL Tracking for Google Analytics

Although my 4 part series on Conversion Tracking is over, there is one aspect of Google Analytics tracking that didn’t get covered in Part IV yet deserves its own post.  Today, we’ll go over how to set-up GA Goals for destination URL tracking.  If your Google Analytics code is properly installed on every page of your website, setting up GA destination URL goals will be easy as pie.

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Mmmmm…..pie
If you haven’t done it before, just follow these steps:1) Open up the “Admin” tab in the upper right hand corner of GA2) Click “Goals” on the right side of the screen–> Create a Goal—> Select Goal Type as “Destination” 3) Figure out a unique strand of destination URL on the page of your website you wish to track as a goal.   For example, you may have an e-commerce store with the checkout success destination URL as follows: “www.yourwebsite.com/checkoutsuccess.html”  (this is where a customer is sent immediately after purchasing) The unique destination URL strand to that page is “/checkoutsuccess.html”.  Under “Destination” in goal details, change the setting from “Equals to” to “Begins with”, and put that unique URL strand “/checkoutsuccess.html” in as the URL visit to target.  Without getting into too much detail on GA wizardry, switching from “Equals to” to “Begins with” makes it more likely that your goal set-up will actually work.  “Equals to” will make the goal trigger only when someone reaches the exact destination URL you enter in,  while changing it to “Begins with” will make the goal count everyone that visits a page with “/checkoutsuccess.html” in the URL.  Give us a call if you want to learn more about GA goal set up; otherwise, take my word for it on this one! 4) Click “Verify this goal” to make sure you have the goals set up properly.  If it gives you a % of visitors that reached that page, then congratulations! You’ve set-up a GA Destination URL Goal! Hit “Create Goal” and do a little dance.
verify this goal

Creating a Destination URL Goal in GA
Now you might be thinking “But Zach, you just taught us how to do this using AdWords generated conversion code, why do we need GA destination URL tracking too?”  All in all, using the AdWords conversion tracking code is an inferior option to proper GA destination goal tracking.  Here are just a few of the reasons why:1) Google Analytics is a much more comprehensive data analysis tool than anything you can find within AdWords. Provided that you’ve set it up properly (which is as simple as making sure the GA code is on every page of your website and tracking page visit data), GA is going to give you way more data on who is visiting your goal conversion pages than AdWords.  For example, take the screenshot below: this GA user is not just able to see last month’s total AdWords goal completions (designated by the source medium goal/cpc), but can also surmise where all of his other goal completions came from (whether organic Google traffic (google/organic), Bing Ads traffic (Bing/CPC), or Facebook (facebook.com/referral)).  This data can help you determine your most effective traffic channels and allocate resources accordingly.
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Where is all your converting traffic coming from? Here we see GA tracking 3 different Destination URL Goals and telling us exactly where these valuable website visits are coming from
2) The less tracking code you have on your site, the better.  You are going to want both Google Analytics and some sort of conversion tracking for your website.  If you can track conversions using the GA code, then you can avoid the headache of installing the AdWords conversion tracking code, the Bing Ads converison tracking code, and the rest of them!  Keeping your site as code free as possible will ensure that your website’s functionality is less likely to be compromised by some improperly installed tracking code.3) Everything in One Place.  Instead of opening 3 different platforms to see what your ROI is, you can open your Google Analytics and see all that information in one place!  While you may not be able to see keyword level information for non-Google platforms within GA, you can get a macro-level view of how other platforms are performing.  As for AdWords, you actually have two options for seeing keyword, ad group, or campaign level data on your GA goals.  If you like working within the AdWords platform, you can import your goals from GA into AdWords. You can also see a breakdown of Goal completions by keyword or search query within Google Analytics: just click on the “Acquisition” Standard Report on the left hand side in GA, then click “Keywords”, then “Paid”.One last tip on the subject of GA Destination URL goals: if you haven’t previously set up goals in GA but want to take a retroactive look at what traffic sources led to hits on a page, you can do so by using the GA Page search bar.  Here’s how: 1) Click on the “Behavior” Standard Report, then “Site Content”, then “All Pages” 2) In the screenshot below, you’ll see a highlighted area: this is the GA Page search bar.  Simply search for the unique destination URL strand of the page with the traffic source data you want to see (using the example from earlier, if your shopping cart checkout success page was “/checkoutsuccess.html” as before, search for that in the tool bar).  Provided that the GA code was on the page, you’ll be able to see data on who had reached that page prior to setting it up as a Goal. Pretty neat!
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Using the GA Web Page search bar
Google Analytics can be daunting to the uninitiated, but with some diligence it can become a most powerful tool for data analysis.  May you put GA Destination Goal tracking to good use for your business!

 

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