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Return to Blog What’s New: Google Analytics Smart Goals

Smart goals are the latest addition to Google Analytics utilising Google’s experience with machine learning to create an automated goal conversion.

Google states that measuring explicit goals are still best when optimising your website and ads, but the intention is to provide a goal for businesses that have no goals in place.

How does Google define a Smart Goal?

Smart Goals attempt to identify your websites ‘best visits’ by examining dozens of metrics and dimensions. Though not listed in full, Google provides some hints on what signals are used to define Smart Goals on the Analytics Help page.

These are:

  • Pages per session
  • Location
  • Device
  • Browser

Using these signals, Google then sets a threshold to select the top 5% of visitors. Unfortunately, like most of the Google Analytics machine learning features, Smart Goals are not configurable or customisable. Smart Goals are measured across all visits, not just those originating from Adwords.

Who should use Smart Goals?

Smart Goals are unlikely to get analysts too excited. Measuring goal conversions based on user actions, such as form completions and ecommerce transactions, is best practice and that won’t change with this new feature.

This is clearly aimed at businesses that have not set up any goals and use Google Adwords. The small business market who may not have the expertise to implement goal tracking based on user interactions with the site.

Use Cases


  • Smart Goals can be used to drive the Target CPA bidding strategy in Adwords.
  • Use Smart Goals to measure the performance of your Adwords campaigns (if you have no actual goals setup).

Google Analytics Remarketing:

  • Remarket to this highly engaged audience with a sales message, to drive product purchases.
  • Push this audience to a landing page with relevant content in exchange for their email address.

What are the requisites to using Smart Goals?

To use Smart Goals, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Link your Analytics and Adwords accounts.
  2. Have sent at least 1000 clicks to the selected GA view in the past month.
  3. The view must not receive over 1 million hits per day.
  4. Data Sharing must be enabled in your Google Analytics account.

Downsides of using Smart Goals

  • No explicit conversion has taken place on your site for a Smart Goal conversion to be recorded. Goals should be saved for user interactions that are likely to result in a lead or transaction.
  • Smart Goals use one of the 20 available goal slots like a normal goal.
  • Smart Goals don’t support view-through conversions.
  • Smart Goals are not configurable or customisable.
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