Are Smart Goals Right For Your Business?

by Jenny Hatch January 5, 2016

(image by David Villarreal Fernández)

Recently, Google announced Smart Goals—a tool to help small businesses who use Google Analytics and Google AdWords without clear-cut conversions to track conversions.

Smart Goals should be available in early 2016; but, to be eligible to use Smart Goals, you must receive at least 1,000 clicks from AdWords within a 30-day period and have both a Google Analytics and Google AdWords account.

What are Smart Goals?

According to Google, Smart Goals “helps you identify the highest-quality visits to your website and optimize for those visits in AdWords.”

For a while now, Google has been gathering data from websites who have opted to share anonymous conversion data. Using that data, Google has created algorithms that identify key factors indicating traffic that is much more likely to convert (session duration, pages per session, location, etc).

When you sign up for Smart Goals, Google applies these factors to your website to predict whether or not your clicks are likely to become those difficult-to-track conversions. Then, using that data, AdWords will optimize your bids for as many “high-quality visits” as possible.

In essence, Smart Goals allow you to use Google’s conversion-predicting algorithms in place of normal conversion tracking, allowing you to use AdWords features like Conversion Optimizer to lower your cost-per-acquisition.

How do I set up Smart Goals?

To set up Smart Goals, you must first have Google AdWords and Google Analytics linked.

Next, make sure that Google’s predictions are generally in line with your own data. Fortunately, Google lets you see how Smart Goals perform before activating them.

To see the Smart Goals report in Google Analytics, go to Conversions and then to Smart Goals as seen below.

Do the Smart Goal completion seem to match your observations? For example, if Google’s algorithm thinks you should have 262 conversions in your time window, do you actually have 262 conversions? If the prediction seems to be generally accurate (don’t expect perfect accuracy, it’s an algorithm, after all), Smart Goals is probably worth considering.

To enable Smart Goals, go to the Admin section, click on Goals and enable Smart Goals. There’s no extra coding necessary!

Then, import Smart Goals into Google AdWords as a conversion.

Now the Smart Goal conversion can be optimized in Google AdWords! For tips on optimizing for conversions, check out the rest of our blog.

Should I use Smart Goals?

Now the question is, should you use Smart Goals?

Well, it depends. Smart Goals can be a good option for your business if there is absolutely no way you will ever be able to track conversions.

For example, if you run local ads for your restaurant that doesn’t do online orders or take phone calls, you might use Smart Goals to try and predict the number of people who visit your restaurant as a result of clicking on your ads.

Of course, it would probably be better if you actually had an online ordering/reservation or call option, but if those are off the table, Smart Goals is probably a good surrogate.


Along those same lines, Smart Goals may also be a good way to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. After all, if the amount of time people spend on your site indicates to Google’s algorithms that you should be generating twice as many conversions as you’re actually seeing in real life, you might need to take a look at your landing page and see if there is room for improvement.

Generally speaking, though, if there is a way to set up any sort of conversion tracking for your campaigns, you are better off using actual data than algorithmic predictions.


So, are Smart Goals right for your business? Possibly, but I’d look into more conventional tracking options (including setting up a CRM) first.

By the way, if you need some help setting up conversion tracking or Smart Goals for your business, let me know here or in the comments. I’d be happy to help you get things figured out!

  • AdWords

Jenny Hatch

Jenny Hatch

As the Executive Assistant, Jenny's primary focus is to help the Executive Team better lead the company with the proper financials, reporting, presentations, accountability etc. Jenny's role as an account manager, social media marketing manager, and accountant along with her recently earned MBA have allowed her to develop an understanding of the business that few others have.

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