How to Track Destination Goals in GA4

For years, marketers and business owners alike have been utilizing goal tracking for their websites via Google’s Universal Analytics (UA). However, with the recent announcement of the sunsetting of UA, now, many users are being challenged to mimic their UA setup in GA4 (which is not an easy task).

One of the biggest pain points of GA4 is the removal of traditional goal tracking, as it has been replaced with event-based conversion tracking. And for most business types, this type of tracking isn’t completely helpful.

So if you are scratching your head trying to figure out how to copy over your destination goals from UA to GA4, you’ve come to the right place.

Here is what you need to do:

Step 1: Setup GA4 on Your Site

Before we dive into configuring our conversions, you will first need to ensure you have properly placed the new GA4 tracking code on your site, as it acts as a different property type than UA. If you need help with this step, check out Google’s help article.

Step 2: Create a Custom Event

From the side menu, select ‘Configure’. On that page, you will see a button labeled ‘Create Event’, click that option to access your custom events page, and then click ‘Create’ and you will be presented with this screen:

GA4 screen to create an event

Step 3: Configure Your Custom Event

Here on this screen, you will want to replicate the following as you set up your custom event, and be sure to use a similar custom event name (depending on what you are tracking), as per Google’s documentation.

GA4 configuration for destination goal

Fill in the boxes as so above, following these instructions:

  • As you can see, you will want to fill in ‘page_view’ as the value for your first parameter
  • Then you will need to click ‘Add condition’ to create a new row
  • In that new row, you will set your parameter to ‘page_location’
  • Then change your operator to ‘contains (ignore case)’
    • Note: This is the most important step in this process, as it is the only operator that our testing has gotten to work successfully
  • And then for value, you will want to copy over the URL path you are using for your destination goal
    • For example, many people use a thank you page (/thank-you/)
  • For now, you can keep the parameter configuration box checked, however, if you later find your event does not trigger, you may need to come back and remove it

After you have filled out your custom event, be sure to save it, and then you can exit the screen.

Step 4: Test Your New Event

Thankfully, GA4 still offers real-time data, which is an essential part of testing various elements and events being triggered on your site.

From the side menu, click ‘Reports’ and then ‘Realtime’. On this page, you will want to scroll all the way down until you see ‘Event count by Event name’.

Then, in a new tab or window, you will want to visit the URL that you used in creating your custom event (ex: www.site.com/thank-you/). Keep that page open until the end of this step.

Go back to your GA4 Realtime tab, and keep an eye on the ‘Event count by Event name’ area until you see the custom event you created shows up:

ga4 realtime event

If after some time, you still do not see the event appear, go back to step 3 and check your configuration, then try step 4 again until you succeed.

Tip: In some instances, you may need to remove the slash at the end of the URL slug you added (ex: /thank-you/ -> /thank-you) as per advice from Savannah Gray.

Step 5: Create A Conversion

Now that we have a new event that is working and measuring what we want, it is time to create a conversion.

Go back to ‘Configure’, select ‘Conversions’, and then click on ‘New conversion event’.

All you need to do here is add the name of the custom event you created and click save.

You will then see that toggle under ‘Mark as conversion’ is turned on, keep it on until you no longer want to track that metric.

GA4 Conversions

Step 6: Repeat

If applicable, go back and repeat steps 2-5 for any other pages you want to track.

Step 7: Wait, Return, and Check Data

This next step will be the easiest yet. Sit back and wait! Depending on how active your site is, it may take some time for the events to be triggered on your site.

So after some time passes, you will be able to return to the GA4, return to the conversion area by going to Configure’ then ‘Conversions’ and you should see a number under the ‘Count’ column:

GA4 events count

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