Conversions have tanked — or did your goal URLs change?
We’ve seen it time and again. A nicely redesigned, perhaps reorganized, website. Maybe a new platform. New user-friendly URLs. All is well — yet conversions have dropped to zero since the relaunch. Or have they? What’s going on?
How destination goals work
In Google Analytics, there are five goal-type options to track your site’s conversions (also called goal completions). This article focuses on the first option, the destination goal:
A destination goal works exactly how it sounds: when the user performs an action on your site, such as clicking a button to submit a form, he or she is sent to a “destination” page — generally a page that thanks them for their action (such as contacting you). This “thank-you page” has its own unique URL and is entered into Google Analytics as the destination goal. This tells analytics to record a conversion when someone visits the thank-you page.
This is one of the simplest ways to track conversions. So, what’s the problem?
How search engines read URLs
Search engines “read” URLs character-for-character. Therefore, /thank-you.html is a completely different page from /thank-you/.
Let’s say your URLs all had the .html extension before the redesign. The extension has been removed and your new thank-you page is located at /thank-you/. You are probably still getting form submissions — but they will no longer be recorded in analytics unless you have updated your destination goal to the new URL.
Note that if proper 301 redirects have been put in place from all the old .html URLs to the new URLs, this may not be a problem. In our experience, however, thank-you pages can tend to be overlooked in the redirect process.
Equals To vs. Begins With
Be careful when choosing between these options for your destination URL. “Equals to” means the conversion will track only if the visited page equals exactly the URL you have entered. “Begins with” will capture conversions on all pages that start with that filename but may be followed by other characters or query strings, such as /thank-you/?eid=2219. Be sure to verify goals are tracking correctly in analytics.
Update those goals!
Goal tracking is a manual process and if anything changes on the site, those changes need to be updated in your Google Analytics goals. This is a step often forgotten in the redesign process — and in fact, errors can happen at any time on your site, not just during a redesign, as developers make necessary changes. Remember to check your goals often and update as needed.
Helpful hint: Check out this article if you’ve lost traffic after a redesign.
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