If you’re looking to delete your goals in Google Analytics, you’re going to be a little frustrated.
That's because you can't actually delete goals in Google Analytics. But that's not without a good reason. If you could delete your goals, it could end up being very confusing. Because the number of total completions would remain the same, a missing goal could eventually leave you wondering where some of those completions came from.
Goals are crucial to your Google Analytics property. They help you track important user actions on your website and mobile apps. A goal conversion is fired when a user takes an action you’re tracking, like making a purchase. Once you set up a goal, it is permanent, but you can set it as inactive.
Keep reading to learn the basics of goals in Google Analytics and how to work around not being able to delete them.
What Are Goals in Google Analytics?
Okay, so first let’s talk about precisely what goals are in Google Analytics. Goals are one of the most important parts of your data collection. Using goals in Google Analytics allows you to track any meaningful user behavior on your site.
If you have a website, you have an idea of the behavior you want to see in your users. Maybe you want them to make a purchase or sign up for your newsletter. Whatever your goal is, you can track it in Google Analytics, making this one of the most important features to take advantage of. If you’re not using goals, you’re probably not getting much out of your GA account.
Goals are crucial because they provide a specific breakdown of how users are performing in areas that matter to you. Compared with something like user traffic, goals are arguably more important.
For example, you might have a certain landing page on your site that performs really well in organic search. While this means you’re ranking high for a popular search term, it doesn’t translate directly to users who are going to result in a meaningful conversion.
On the other hand, if you set up a goal set up to track traffic to your “Contact” landing page, you can see how many users are interested in your specific services and possibly want to hire your company.
Using goals, you can track conversions such as
- New customers
Note: You can have up to 20 goals for each reporting view.
The Basics of Setting Up Goals
Goals are essential to measuring the success of your website and mobile apps. They’re very customizable, and you can set up a goal to be triggered for almost any meaningful action you want to track.
To set up new goals, follow these steps:
1. Click “Admin.”
2. Click “Goals” under “Views.”
3. Click “New Goal.”
Now you have a few options. You can choose from:
- A goal template: Templates are great for making suggestions about data you might want to collect. This includes things like revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement. But, keep in mind that selecting a template only fills in the name field for your goal, and you’ll still need to customize the parameters.
- A smart goal: There are mixed reviews on smart goals. This is a feature made for AdWords users and users who don’t set up conversion tracking.
- A custom goal: Here, you can adjust your goal based on destination, duration, pages/visit, or events. You can set up as many events as you want in each reporting view, so definitely take advantage of this fact!
Custom Goals in Google Analytics
There are four types of custom goals in Google Analytics:
- Destination (URL): When you set up a destination goal, it’ll be triggered when a user visits a specific page of your choice.
- Duration (Time): This one is also pretty straightforward. Set up a duration goal to be triggered when a session lasts a specific amount of time or longer.
- Pages/visit: You can set up these goals to be fired when a user views a certain number of pages or screens in a single session. Maybe you want to have it triggered when a user has visited 5 or more pages to see how your interlinking is encouraging engagement.
- Events: Events goals are the most flexible and customizable. You can set up an event goal for any meaningful interaction, like a purchase, a video played, a subscription, etc.
Can I Delete My Goals In Google Analytics?
No, you can’t delete your goals in Google Analytics. Goals let you keep track of important actions that users take or don’t. When your users do something you’ve marked as a goal, a goal conversion is triggered, and you can view these conversions in your GA reports.
Once you set up your goals, they start affecting your reports within 24-48 hours. But keep in mind that goals aren’t applied retroactively, so they won’t have an impact on previous data. The processing for a goal hit only happens once, so it isn’t applied to historic data, and once it’s there, it’s there forever.
If deleting goals was an option, your data would become very confusing. That's because the total number of completions wouldn't change but with missing goals, you'd be wondering where some of the completions came from.
So, Google Analytics must keep all goals you create intact. But, if you’re no longer interested in tracking a particular goal, you can simply set it as inactive, and if you need to make changes, you can update it.
What Can I Do Instead of Deleting Goals?
As we mentioned above, you can’t delete goals in Google Analytics. But, this doesn’t mean you need to continue tracking that goal completion. Instead, you can set your goal as inactive.
To edit a goal and mark it as inactive, simply go to your goal and set the “Recording” switch to “Off.”
Also, to make things clear for anyone using your Analytics account, you can edit your goal to give it a new name. Rename it something that indicates it’s no longer being used. For example, you can mark it as “–” or “Deleted.”
Note: You can’t leave a goal name or URL blank or you will receive an error, and it’s in your best interest to give it a name that indicates it’s not being used anyway.
You can also update your goals if they’re not behaving the way you expected. Google Analytics expert Kyle Akerman points out that sometimes, you may need to update your goal because of incorrect logic, which makes the goal too broad or narrow.
For example, you might have a goal for newsletter sign-ups. You originally set your logic to “/thank-you” but after a month, you notice your goal is triggered for ALL Thank you pages. Here, you can update your goal to capture only “/thank-you-newsletter” pages.
Repurposing an Inactive Goal
Remember, you can have up to 20 goals per each reporting view. Depending on your needs, this might be more than enough. You can simply add a new goal rather than repurposing an old one.
In most cases, we advise you to not repurpose a goal if you can avoid it. Because goals can’t be erased, even if you change the parameters, you can still see the completions for the old goal. This can be confusing, especially if several people are looking at your Analytics reports.
So, try not to repurpose your goals and instead, set up new ones. If you have to repurpose a goal, make the new parameters as close to the old as possible to avoid confusion. You can also add annotations to help clarify where the old goal completions end and the new ones begin.
Goals in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, you can’t delete your old goals, but that’s for good reason. Because the effect of goals on your reports is permanent, it would get confusing if you couldn’t trace where all your historical goal conversions came from.
If you have a goal you no longer want to track, simply set it to inactive to keep from compiling more data in the future. You can also update goals if they’re not behaving how you expected.
Let us know if you have thoughts on goals below!