URL destination goals might not be the most popular feature of Google Analytics, but it’s an excellent tool to help you make sure you’re on the right path with your marketing efforts. This last year brought about quite a few changes and will cause many companies to alter strategies and try new things, so it’s important to stay organized and continually assess the success of some of these new initiatives. Branching out from your usual Google Analytics tabs is going to be crucial, and URL Destination Goals is a good place to start.

URL Destination Goals 101: How They Work and How to Get Started

There are actually quite a few different goals that you can set in Google Analytics, and as you get more advanced it’s a great idea to start getting creative with different goals, but URL Destinations is an easy place to help you get familiar.

The way it works is this: You setup a goal and it will tell you when someone visited a webpage on your site, and then the system will gather data so that you can see why and how a user got to that page. Because all of the data you might want is in one place, you can easily figure out with of your marketing efforts are working and which are better left in the dust of 2013.

You can get started by following a few simple steps:

1. Visit your Google Analytics page and click on the website you want to work with. Make sure that you click the Admin button so you have full access.

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2. In the upper right hand corner you will see “Create a Goal.” Click on that button.

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3. Be sure to add in a Goal description. Because you can create more than one URL Destination goal, a description is crucial to keeping everything straight.

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4. Type in the details of your Goal including where users will land when they complete your goal (Ex: a “Thank You” page). Choose the option “Equals” in the dropdown menu unless you don’t have an exact URL, in which case choose “Begins With” or “Regular Expression.”

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5. Add a funnel to your Goal to help you see different steps in the process of the Goal, and/or add a monetary value so you can see how much money you’re earning from each Goal completion.

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6. Extra Tips Not To Forget: You can only create 4 sets of Goals for each domain with 5 Goals for each, making it an even 20. You can’t delete a Goal, but you can deactivate it.

The majority of businesses set Goals to track whether or not their free trials and downloads are actually being used and making a difference (after all, you don’t want to give things away for free if no one ever comes back to make a purchase). You may also want to consider simply tracking sales, content form fill-outs, your mailing list numbers, those who comment on your blog for the first time, etc. Track your Goals for a few days (even months) before making any rash decisions. The more data you have the better.

Are you familiar with URL Destination Goals? If so, what did you find worked best about the feature? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.