Reverse goal path report will be going away?

Google Analytics is a great web analytics package and is usually very proactive regarding updates and changes to its standard functions and reporting.  The product team at do a wonderful job with detailed blog announcements at the Google Analytics Blog with exceptional videos, screen shots and reasons behind the change and how it will benefit or improve the experience.

This happy world was shaken recently after logging into a client account to see a small notification showing a message that one of the best features of the goal tracking would be vanishing soon.  The screenshot below shows a help icon, but it contained no link or more detailed information about why this was happening, would it be improved or even when it would be occurring. There is a small statement from the Google Community blog, and a tweet from last week, but outside that no other reaction even from some of the leading GAAC blogs such as EpikOne’s Analytics Talk or Mangold Sengers. These GAAC blogs are usually the first to break new features and discuss retirements of existing or legacy features so what is happening is there something better coming?

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This post will help explain the benefit of the Reverse Goal Path report and why it will be missed by many web analytics professionals such as The Lost Agency.  Reverse goal paths can help you understand if particular pages are encouraging higher conversions.  It is also more useful than the funnel visualisation to understand longer but successful paths to conversion. While many people may not be taking advantage of this wonderful feature it can be very useful for usability analysis and working to lift conversion rates for your clients.

An example is that a majority of the conversions might go from A to B to C, but it is likely that not everyone may follow that path, and with reverse goal path report you can clearly see how many sit outside the basic ABC path.  This can be useful for understand if changes to page navigation may need to be improved and it can also be useful for identification as to which pages can add value. Another powerful use is to identify common “engagement” points along goal paths that don’t typically get captured in a standard goal path.

All these navigational changes to you website can be tested using Website Optimiser to confirm and measure the increase in conversions. It is a shame if the Reverse Goal Path report vanishes and is not replaced with something that is bigger and better. The Google Analytics Blog also has a great recent post 60 seconds using Website Optimiser & Google Analytics together.

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4 comments

  1. Simon says:

    This is shocking. Its such a beautiful feature of the entire analytics. If its getting better than now its ok to remove. But if they are removing permanently then its really hard to know the visitor behavior in the conversion.

    May be this is the first step taken in the process of making it a paid service.

  2. I just stumbled on this post a few years late. So glad that you posted this and may have helped change Google’s mind… As it turned out the Reverse Goal Path report got a reprieve and then an improved interface in v5.

    Like you, I’m a fan of the report. It’s a great way of understanding the routes which people take to a page in situations where the range of routes is diverse and unpredictable. For example, I like to use the report with goals for things like 404 pages and other error messages.