Google Analytics Goals & Funnels: Explained

Many thanks to friend and savvy business owner Lorna Sixsmith (owner of Garrendenny Lane Interiors and Co-Founder of Write On Track) for asking us about goals and funnels in Google Analytics.

In this post I’m going to explain what a goal is, how to set goals and what funnels are. Try not to blitz all your brain cells!

Lets Explain a Goal

A goal is a desired action, such as a purchase, email sign up, a submission on a contact form, competition entry, or a ‘time on site’ target.

Each time one of these actions is taken, Google Analytics records it as a completed goal.

Setting Goals in Google Analytics

First, go through your website and note the goals you wish to measure:

  • Contacts
  • Email sign ups
  • E-book downloads
  • Purchases
  • Competition entries
  • Time on site
  • Pages per visit


When you have decided: -

  • Log into Google Analytics
  • Click on ‘Edit’ in the Actions column on the far right
  • In the ‘Goals’ box, for ‘Goals (set one)’ -click on ‘Add Goal’
  • Type a name (for your reference only)
  • Active: On
  • Set 1, Goal 1 for first goal
  • You can choose what type of goal you wish to track. URL is a particular page, time on site and pages/visit are amounts
  • For URL, you need to take the steps yourself, so if you are tracking a sign up, you will need to sign up through the website. The final page you see – confirmation/thank you page, is the URL you copy and paste in Goal URL. Match type, read this first and choose.
  • Save Goal
  • For time on site and pages/visit – choose greater or less than and enter a number.


Well done! You set up your first goal.


Funnels are the steps which lead to a goal. In the trade we refer to these as ‘flows’. An analyst would call this analysing the conversion path, which can be optimised (conversion optimisation).

An example would be a retail website where you sell products through the website. The first step in the funnel would be to click on the checkout page. The second step would be a details and shipping page, the third would be payment and the fourth would be the confirmation of payment (Goal page).

Funnels – A bit More Detail



This is an example of a funnel. Note the funnel shapes? As a rule of thumb, a conversion is between 0 and 5%, so funnels visualise the drop-off process en route to a goal.

Each funnel is a step and in this example there are three. At each step, there is a number on the left, in the middle and to the right.

The number on the left is incoming – people who enter at this step. The number in the middle is the total number at that step, and the number on the right is the number of people who have ‘dropped off’ and left the site, or navigated to another page on the site.

Why Set Up Funnels

Achieving a goal can be a difficult task, especially if you run an ecommerce website. Each step leading to a goal can be analysed and provide detailed data as to what actions your visitors are taking. Optimising funnels will improve the steps and lead to an increase in goals.

I could go into more detail, but I’m guessing your more brains are a bit frazzles, so I’ll stop there.

Comment with any questions on goals and funnels, and if you need conversion optimisation analysis, then let me know.

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