Setting Up URL Destination Goals on Google Analytics

URL Destination Goals, Google Analytics

In order to be aware if your website is making contribution to your business or not is crucial, and how much traffic is flowing to the website. One should know the metrics like ebook downloads, trial signups, leads, newsletter signups etc and keep on tracking them, all this can be done with Google Analytics.

Google Analytics require some additional setup to inform the productivity of your business. Goals are defined and Google Analytics keep track of what is critical to the business by analyzing those goals. URL Destination is one of the most common goal type used by businesses to assess their desired audience behavior on the website.


URL Destination Goals

With URL destination goals specific URLs are tracked. The goal is triggered each time when anyone goes to that URL.


URL Destination Goals Google Analytics


Goal URL:  This is the URL that will trigger the goal and one doesn’t need to enter the full URL, whatever comes after the domain can be used such as if the full URL is www.shahrukhsaeed/about/, enter in “/about/”.

Match Type: The specific URL will work for the exact won’t be a good idea to use exact match if a system is constantly generating unique URLs for each visitor.

One should be careful with the exact match on landing pages. For tracking marketing campaigns if utm parameters are added only direct visits will be counted by Google Analytics and not the campaigns visits.

Regardless of what comes after the URL the head match will track any visit that is made to the URL.

Case Sensitive: Check this box if lowercase and uppercase characters in your URL go to more than one page. Usually, you’ll want to leave this box unchecked.

Goal Values: Goal value is the amount of money you associate with each successful conversion or goal completion, and how it is going to affect your sales.

Goal Funnels

Goal funnels allow you to see exactly how many people move through each step of your marketing process. You’ll know how many people abandon your funnel at each step so you know what pages need fixing. For example, build a goal funnel for your ecommerce checkout to see how many people move through each step between the shopping cart and the payment page.

But be careful, goal funnels really only work when you require your visitors to move through a series of pages. Unless required, visitors seldom follow a clear path on your site and a goal funnel won’t help you make any sense of how your visitors move from page to page. For paths with less structure, use the Visitors Flow report.

You’re limited to 10 steps in your funnel. So if you need more, split the funnel between two different goals.

Remember the match type you selected above? Well it also applies to all your goal values. So if you’re using some crazy regular expressions up top, they’ll also get applied to every page on your funnel.

Required Steps: By default, Google Analytics will track visitors in the funnel even if people jump into the middle. If you want to make sure that the goal funnel only counts people that have started on step 1 and completed the goal, check this box.

But this only changes how the funnel visualization (the fancy diagram) tracks visitors. People will still be counted as conversions if they visit the goal URL.

Hacking URL Goals with Virtual Pageviews

In Google Analytics, we can force a pageview into the system whenever we want. With a small bit of JavaScript, Google Analytics will track anything as a pageview. We can even define exactly what the URL is.

Doing this with any link is super easy. Let’s say we want to track a link to another domain and the link is so important that we want to make it a goal. We could use events to track it but we’ve decided that we want to use the goal as part of a goal funnel. Since event goals don’t allow us to do this, how can we use virtual pageviews and a URL goal?

Here’s your normal link:

<a href=””>Click Here!</a>

Now we have to decide how we want the URL to look in our reports. We can’t get it to display as because Google Analytics will think the URL is a part of our domain. Let’s build a URL that easily tells us that it’s a virtual pageview, what domain it’s pointing to, and what page on that domain our visitors are going to. Which gives us a URL like this:


Remember: Google Analytics drops your domain in your URLs. For this virtual pageview, Google Analytics thinks that actually exists on your domain. But we’ve tricked it.

The vpv stands for virtual pageview so we know this URL is fake, “othersite” tells us which external domain we linked to, and  “promotion” clarifies which page we’ve linked to specifically. You can name your virtual pageview URLs whatever you want. But take the time to name them in such a way that you can instantly figure out what they are 6 months from now.

Now let’s use our fake URL with an onclick event and modify the original hyperlink. We’ll end up with this:

<a href=”” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’,’/vpv/othersite/promotion’]);”>Click Here!</a>

This code tells Google Analytics to register a pageview at the URL we’ve specified every time the link is clicked.

Google Actually will start using the /vpv/othersite/promotion URL which we can now use as a URL destination goal. We can even use this virtual pageview in a goal funnel which we can’t do with event goals.

You can use the virtual pageview trick for external links, file downloads, or any other element on your site.





Shahrukh Saeed is a design savvy digital enthusiast focused to share latest tools, tricks & techniques of the web, digital marketing UX/UI & SEO with business startups and learn from experts in the field.


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  2. I am not certain where you’re getting your information, however great topic. I must spend a while learning much more or figuring out more. Thank you for fantastic information I was in search of this information for my mission.

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