Episode #10

Google Analytics V: Events, Goals, Referrals Reports

In this episode, you'll start by learning how the Google Analytics referrals report allows you to be more systematic in accumulating backlinks for SEO via outreach strategies. But mostly you'll learn about Google Analytics goals -- and their relationship to events and to revenue tracking. You'll leave knowing how to set up your own goals and events.

November 01, 2020

Show Notes

No notes available for this episode.


Transcribed by Rugo Obi

Today's video continues with Google Analytics stuff.

The most important thing we cover today is Google Analytics events.

I would say that he or she who does not set Google Analytics events, eventually repents.

They are incredibly useful and with a single line of code you can enrich your data with an extra dimension that has real commercial or business meaning.

I think you’ll get a lot of value out of this video if you implement it afterwards.


A super important part of any SEO strategy is getting some backlinks, and the referral traffic report, which you find under Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals, is very very useful for giving you an idea of who is backlinking to you.

And from that information you can figure out what tends to be working naturally, i.e. if someone naturally gives you a backlink, that's a good indicator that you could focus on finding other websites like them and ask them for a backlink.

So if I scroll down here we can see what websites are linking to me.

The first one is oxbridgenotes.co.uk, which is myself, and this seems a bit weird but that's because I have multiple domains and some of them link back and forth - you can ignore that.

Then there's uk.search.yahoo.com. I'm not really sure why this is appearing here instead of under "search", but it could just be a slight glitch.

The next one is semicolonandsons.com which you're probably watching this video from, so you can basically ignore these ones up here.

And then the first kind of legitimate external link is moneypantry.com. Let's go and find out what that website is saying about me.

In order to do this, I'm going to look up myself Oxbridge Notes, and then I'm going to use this site: operator here in Google, and then limit the site that Google is searching to moneypantry.com, press enter, and then see what comes up.

And here we find a website with the title '13 Ways To Get Paid to Take and Sell notes'.

This seems very relevant. I have a website where people can sell their study notes, therefore, it makes sense that a website that lists the different places where you can sell your study notes would also list me.

Given this piece of information, that I get listed on places to sell study notes, I can do a general search query for that here, and then find places to possibly link to me.

For example this website dreamshala.com might be promising or wahadventures, or…, yeah, there's so many of them here, that could be a good link outreach strategy.

I'd like to introduce a general purpose tool in Google Analytics, a new one called Goals.

You can find this under your Property’s View and then look for the Goals flag.

Google Analytics lets you define only 20 goals per view.

I've used up 13 here and I have 7 goals left. And unfortunately they don't let you delete old goals, so I have a few of them lying around here that are no longer valid. So don't pay too much attention to everything here.

So, instead let's focus on the first of these goals. The goal Applied to Sell triggers when someone applies to ‘sell notes’ on my website.

This is a destination goal type, I'll explain that in a second. And over the past seven days, this has happened four times.

Let's dive into this Apply to Sell goal and figure out more about how goals work in Google Analytics.

So there are three major kind of groupings of setups here. Goal setup, Goal description and Goal details.

I'm going to go into Goal setup first.

Here you can essentially choose from two things. One to use a sort of standard Google Analytics template for the configuration.

There's a sub-category here, REVENUE like Make a payment or someone registers. ACQUISITION: someone creates an account. Or some sort of ENGAGEMENT thing like a media play.

And so for someone who's applied to sell, which is what this goal is about, if I were to use a template, perhaps Create an account would be the closest match.

But that's a bit ambiguous, well, because people may also create an account if they plan on buying the notes instead of selling their notes, therefore I opted for Custom in this step.

The second grouping here is Goal description, and this is just the name I give to it: Applied to sell.

And here's a very important thing, the Type of goal.

So this type is Destination. This means that there's a certain page, a certain URL on my website or rather relative path.

Other types are Duration, for example, five minutes on the website, and Pages/Screens per session or Events.

I'm going to go into Events in a lot more detail later, but this one is just going to focus on Destination.

The last of these steps is Goal Details.

I'm going to go into that here, and these are the implementation details as to how this Destination type goal works.

So I'm looking for a regular expression, looking for thanks_for_applying to appear within the URL. The other options here are for the URL to equal to or begin with some particular string.

So let's look at what that corresponds to.

I have this page here oxbridgenotes.co.uk/thanks_for_applying, and it's just a pretty basic static page that people see after they've submitted their form.

This is the form here. In order to sell notes, it kind of collects some data about their email, what they want to sell and a few samples and so on.

And after they click Submit here, they end up here.

Then you have another field I'm not using here. This is Value, and this allows you to assign some sort of monetary value to that goal. And this helps in quantifying certain non revenue generating transactions in your website.

For example, if I figure that I could earn 100 euros on each author, I might claim that's a value of 100 euros to me, but in my case I don't really have exact figures for that, so I'd rather leave this blank.

Another option here is to verify the goal and to check how often you would have had conversions over the past couple of days. This is a way to check that you have your settings roughly correct. If it's zero, that's an indication that maybe you have the regular expression wrong.

Okay, so I’ve switched over to the Semicolon and Sons Google Analytics account in order to demonstrate the other major Goal Type event.

I have two event goal types here, Media play, when someone plays a video on my website and Sign up, when someone signs up for the mailing list.

As you can see here, this has happened 26 times in the past seven days, and this has happened eight times in the past seven days.

Most people have encountered Semicolon and Sons on YouTube at this point but I'd like to get more people onto the website, because of platform risk.

So if I click into Media play, the goal is pretty similar except for one thing. I set the goal type here to Event, and then within the implementation details, you see these Event conditions.

So Events can have a Category and Action, and Label. I mostly use Action and I set this to be equal to play_video.

I'm going to demonstrate what this means in a second.

When you're just getting started, I would recommend only setting the Action field on a given Event.

That's because if I open up the documentation here, the <action> field is sort of the mandatory parameter there.

In order to send an event you say gtag( ‘event’, … that’s fixed, and then the name of the <action>.

In my case, if I go back here, it's going to be play_video. So I fill that in with play_video, and then all this other kind, all this other data is optional, you don't have to add it.

Of course, you can though. If you add event_category and event_label, it gives you more ways to filter the data. But when you're getting started that might be too much information.

While I'm discussing events, I should also mention that what we saw up here is called a "custom" event.

There are however a bunch of sort of built in or recommended template events that Google Analytics defines. Many of these are involved with the Ecommerce features.

For example, you can see here, add_payment_info is already defined, begin_checkout is defined, purchase is defined, and it's recommended that you use these built in events when possible because that enables special features and reports in Google Analytics.

A thing that trips up a lot of new people to Google Analytics is events vs goals

So, an event is the data you send with that code I showed you earlier. And that would appear under Behavior > Events > X and yeah, and these bunch of sub reports here.

For example, I have the play_video, viewed_items, and email_list_signup events here.

You saw some goals corresponding to play_video and email sign up over here. I'm going to have to go back, and that's going to load for a second, but you can see here that there’s Media play and Sign up.

However, these goals are different to events. I build a goal out of some particular events.

The upshot is, if you go into the reports under Conversions > Goals and expect to see your events there, you won't, until you have set them up here.

That's all I've got for today. See you next week.Today we continue our tour of Google Analytics reports.