The Goal Match Type Options for Google Analytics

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If you have been confidently and accurately tracking goals within Google Analytics consider this post review.  However, due to the large number of questions our firm receives from companies in the area, I thought it would be a good idea to have this in our company blog.

Back to Basics

There are three different match types to help Google Analytics track goals within their interface.  They are regular expression match, head match, or exact match.  Below is a brief description along with an example.

1)      Regular Expression Match:  This type of match allows you to capture the special characters constant within a URL such as the stem and/or trailing parameters that might be coming from different domains or sub-domains.

You would use this match type if you needed to track the URL string: cart-checkout.cgi/?id=3 in both http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?id=3&fm=2 as well as http://www.michael.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?id=3&language=fr&fm=4 .

2)      Head Match:  This type of match allows you capture identical character strings from the beginning to the end of your string that may include extra parameters at the end of the URL such as user id’s, session tracking, or other added cookie codes.

You would use this match type if you needed to track the URL string: http://www.nicole.isaweome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3 in both http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3&id=3245783475634 as well as http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3&id=46834643, or  even http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3.

3)      Exact Match:  This is the most specific type of match because you have to match every exact character in the URL you provide without exception from the beginning to the end.  You would only use this on sites that do not have any dynamic information in the URL for an id, session, or other potential query parameters.

You would use this match type if you needed to track the number of times this URL is visited: http://www.nicole.isawesome.com/cart-checkout/thankyou.html.  Because it is going to be the same URL every time, you need to make sure to exclude the leading elements of the URL and only put “/cart-checkout/thankyou.html” for the exact match to make sure you don’t invalidate the goal.

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