Editor’s Note: This article is written for a Marketing Director or CEO looking to better manage their marketing department or SEO team. Stay tuned for future articles of this nature as one will build upon the other.
Tracking Goal Conversions Using Google Analytics
In the last article in this series, we covered how to view your organic traffic in Google Analytics as a whole and on a subpage by subpage basis. In this article, we’ll cover another excellent utility Google Analytics provides marketing teams – tracking goal conversions derived from organic search.
The types of goals that may be applicable to your current marketing situation are:
- Leads – Tracking people who are contacting you for service through a web form. Lead acquisition is most commonly used on professional services websites, home renovation services websites, etc.
- Sign Ups – These are popular on email subscription and software as a service (SAAS) demo registration forms.
- Engagement – Setting and tracking measurement with visitor engagement in your content. For example, time on site, # of page views per session etc. This type of goal is most common on news or blog type websites.
- Transactions – Most commonly used on an e-commerce website. Note: The information in this article will not pertain to e-commerce website conversion goal tracking as there is a different module and process that is better at tracking product purchases on e-commerce websites. This article will instead pertain to tracking goals accomplished from organic search for leads, sign-ups, and engagement metrics.
One of the best ways to have your Google Analytics setup to report on goal completions is through the Custom Reports sections of Google Analytics.
It’s best to ask your SEO team to set this up for you, if it’s not already. If you wish to view the area at any time in your Google Analytics go to: Admin -> View -> Goals.
Fig. 1 – This is a screen shot of the Goals index page under Admin -> View -> Goals within Google Analytics. These will show the various goals you have setup on your website.
Here are the two steps to properly manage the creation of your goals in Google Analytics.
Provide your SEO team the following three pieces of information:
Key Info #1. The areas on the website you want to track conversions.
Go through your website and list out the sections of the website you’d like to track as conversion points. This can include, as mentioned above, a contact us form submission, email subscription form submission, SAAS demo sign-up form submission, etc. Your SEO team will use this information in a bit to setup custom reports to report back the various goal completion points on your website derived from organic search (and other mediums if you wish).
Key Info #2. The estimated value of each lead. (Optional)
By creating an estimated value per lead, you can track overall estimated revenue that the organic search medium is generating your company.
One way to determine the estimated value of a lead is you’ll first take what your average sale value is (1-year value is a reasonable approach) or lifetime value of a customer (LTV) and second, what your close rate is.
Here’s a hypothetical example. Lets say you sell windows and doors to consumers, your average sale is $6,000 and your average close rate is 40%. In this instance, your average lead is worth $2,400 (1 lead x 40% close rate x $6,000 sale).
You do not strictly need to define a value for any or all of your goals. However, where relevant it is extremely useful to do so as you can better measure the ROI of your search engine optimization (SEO) program.
Key Info #3. Decide if you want a funnel built.
To increase accuracy of the reporting, you can list out other pages that a visitor must go through before they finish their journey for it to be recorded as a goal completion. This is to avoid anomalies where someone accidentally gets to a thank you page more than once and is therefore recorded as more than one goal completion.
On e-commerce websites, you could for instance require someone to have gone to your cart page, check out page, and then complete the checkout before a goal is recorded.
With that said, there is an alternative (and technical) way to use event based goal setting (more on event based goal setting below) to reduce or eliminate a goal being recorded more than once for a person’s form being completed. Ask your web team to include a token that is passed via ‘POST’ when the form submission is made. By doing so, Java Script can check for that data before activating the event (activating the event is the goal being recorded). By implementing this procedure, when someone comes to your ‘thank you’ page and didn’t do so via the original form, they would not have that data in their browser request, no event would get activated, and therefore no goal would be recorded.
Once you provide your SEO team the above information, they will now setup the given goals within Google Analytics and link it to your website to track that information. They should advise or proceed on the best way to implement the tracking, but it’ll be one of the following two ways on a non e-commerce website:
1. Destination based tracking – This is where they use Google Analytics to track visitors who get to a destination page (e.g., ‘thank you’ page to indicate a form being filled out). Google Analytics will record one goal completion per page view recorded on the destination page.
2. Event based – Event based goal tracking is a more technical implementation (as we touched on a bit in the preceding section of this article) where the SEO team uses Java Script to track each time an ‘event’ occurs. This method of goal tracking is popular on contact us pages that don’t redirect people to a ‘thank you’ page afterwards but instead has a thank you message that appears on the page after the form is submitted. Again, as noted in the preceding section, event based tracking could also be used on a ‘thank-you’ page.
If your website goals pertain more to how users engage with the website (e.g. a news media website), the two popular goals you can track are time on site and page views. For this type of goal tracking, like destination, there’s no fancy code installations required on your website. Google Analytics will provide this information for you since it’s available out of the box within its regular analytics reporting.
Once the goals are setup the way you like, ask your SEO team to setup custom reports to allow you to more easily monitor the goals (you can also have reports easily emailed to you in the future).
If you’d like, each report can represent a conversion point on your website.
Fig. 2 – A screen shot of the index page for Customization reports.
Once your SEO team has completed setting up the custom reports, based on the information you provided them (Step 1) and having this information setup (Step 2), you can now go to the individual reports to see how the different conversion points on your website are performing for organic search.
Fig. 3 – A screen shot of a custom report tracking leads from organic search.
One final area worth mentioning is phone analytics. Contemporary third party phone analytics software will provide varying phone numbers based on the traffic source of your website traffic. If you want to know how many people are calling your company who were derived from organic search as a medium, a phone analytics package is better than nothing for your company.
The limitation with phone analytics is it can’t track goal conversions in Google Analytics with 100% accuracy. Third party phone tracking systems integrate by making it so that each time someone phones the number it will ping Google Analytics and count as a conversion. The problem is the person calling the phone number may have already been a lead previously and it’s counting their conversion more than once. Beyond that, the tracked conversion will not be connected with any specific visitor on your site (meaning you may have more sessions than were actually the case). As such, it is best to use the internal reporting that is provided with the phone analytics system rather than pushing the data into Google Analytics.
In this article, we covered what information you should provide your SEO team to properly track important goals being accomplished on your website that were a result of organic traffic and further better tracking the estimated revenue that your SEO program is producing your company.
If you require any assistance with setting up the above or if you’re looking to obtain more website traffic and revenue from popular search engines like Google, contact tbk Creative. and my team will look at your specific situation.