Google Analytics: Reverse Goal Path Report

This post is part of our Google Analytics Reports series. Learn how to utilize and better understand the main reports available in Google Analytics. To be updated with each new report, join our mailing list today by filling out the form at the bottom right.

Understanding where your visitors were prior to completing a goal is essential in digital marketing. Sometimes this is straight from the source (i.e. Google Organic Search), but usually this is from within our own sites.

Enter the Reverse Goal Path report withing Google Analytics. This is a great area to better understand users prior actions and pages viewed prior to conversion. Let’s explore what that entails and how you can make the most out of your reporting.

What’s Included in the Reverse Goal Path Report

The reverse goal path report’s main focus is to showcase the prior path a user took before executing on a goal within Google Analytics. Different from other reports within Google Analytics, here you’ll see the following:

  • Goal Completion Location
  • Previous Goal Steps
  • Total Goal Completions

The previous goal steps show the prior pages that were viewed before the goal was actually accomplished.

Difficulty to set up

Difficulty Meter: 2/5 (easy)

While the reverse goal path report is default to Google Analytics, you must go through the process of setting up at least one goal within your view to take advantage of the information it has to offer.

Prior to working with this report, make sure you go into your admin area and set up a goal. If you are looking for a good goal to start with, try my method on user engagement.

Where it is located?

The reverse goal path report is located under the Conversion tab on the left hand navigation. It is within the sub-heading of Goals and labeled as Reverse Goal Path.

reverse goal path location

Analysis to Complete

Analyzing goals is an essential part of digital analysis. Your Google Analytics goals should relate back to business goals and objectives, making them a main focus of your overall analysis. This report can help to make those insights a little more apparent.

Below are two key ways you can utilize this report to improve your overall analysis.

1. Identify Your Least Common Paths

Most analyst’s initial thought is to look for the most common paths that lead to the completion of a goal. I challenge that logic and ask that you start with the reverse, the least common path.

This will identify any problem areas on pages you may expect to lead to conversion better than others. If you find that one of the pages you expect a user to visit prior to conversion is low on the total of conversions, this may be an issue.

This can lead to a quick identification of issues with a lead page, and prompt a deep-dive that could uncover further information to help increase the likelihood of conversion through this path. Easily accomplish this by clicking on the goal totals to reverse the sorting.

reverse goal lookup google analytics

2. Go Custom for More Information

When first looking at the different options within the reverse goal path report, it seems limited. Unfortunately it is, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it get in the way of your creativity.

Look to the upper left corner of the report, where you will see a button for “customize”. Click on this to create a custom report based on your current view in the reverse goal path report.

customize reverse goal path report

From there you can modify the custom report by adding another dimension (or two). You are limited to the type of dimensions that you can use with the previous goal paths, however time dimensions are always available.

Modify your report to look at your top (or bottom) paths by month, hour of the day, or more. This will provide additional insight as to if paths are performing better or worse at certain time intervals.

reverse goal path custom reporting

Benefit of the Reverse Goal Path Report

The reverse goal path report is your first view to understand how your goals are being accomplished. Utilizing this report in the ways showed above and integrating those reports into your other analysis will allow for a better view of what paths are and aren’t working in your current site.

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