Measuring explicit conversions, using either Google Ads Conversion Tracking or imported Analytics Ecommerce transactions, is the best way to optimize your bids, your ads, and your website. However, if you aren't yet measuring conversions, Smart Goals is an easy way to use your best sessions as conversions. You can then use Smart Goals to optimize your Google Ads performance.
How Smart Goals work
Smart Goals are configured at the view level. Smart Goals use machine learning to examine dozens of signals about your website sessions to determine which of those are most likely to result in conversions. Each session is assigned a score, with the "best" sessions being translated into Smart Goals. Some examples of the signals included in the Smart Goals model are Session duration, Pages per session, Location, Device and Browser. (Remarketing Smart Lists use a similar machine learning model to identify your best users.)
To determine the best sessions, Smart Goals establishes a threshold by selecting approximately the top 5% of the traffic to your site coming from Google Ads. Once that threshold is set, Smart Goals applies it to all your website sessions, including traffic from channels other than Google Ads. After enabling Smart Goals in Analytics, they can be imported into Google Ads.
Prerequisites for using Smart Goals
To use Smart Goals, you'll need to meet certain prerequisites and complete the following actions:
- Link your Analytics and Google Ads account(s).
- The linked Google Ads account(s) must send enough traffic to your website; Google Ads clicks have to result in at least 500 Analytics sessions over the past 30 days before you can set up Smart Goals.
If the linked account falls below 250 sessions over the past 30 days for the selected view, Smart Goals will be deactivated until the sessions rise again to 500 or more.
- The reporting view must not receive more than 10 million sessions in 30 days.
- The Data Sharing setting Google products and services must be turned on for your Analytics account. See the instructions below:
Step 1: Enable Smart Goals
If your view is eligible, you can enable Smart Goals by selecting the Smart Goal goal type when following the regular goal setup flow:
- Sign in to Google Analytics.
- Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view.
- In the VIEW column, click Goals.
- Click + NEW GOAL.
- Select Smart Goal (if available).
- Give your Smart Goal a name and click Save.
No additional configuration or customization is required. (That's part of the reason why we call them "Smart Goals.")
Step 2: Import Smart Goals into Google Ads
To use Smart Goals to optimize your Google Ads performance, you must first import them into Google Ads.
- After you've activated Smart Goals in Analytics, sign in to your Google Ads account, click Tools & Settings, then under Measurement, click Conversions.
- Under Conversion actions, click +.
- Click Import, then select Google Analytics.
- Click Continue.
- Select the items you want to import, then click Import and continue.
Google Ads will begin importing the data from your Analytics account. Historical data from before the import won't be included.
Learn more about importing Analytics goals and transactions in Google Ads.
Step 3: Optimize Google Ads performance using Smart Goals
To optimize your Google Ads performance using Smart Goals, we recommend you use Target CPA bidding, a flexible automated bid strategy. You can also use manual CPC bidding if you would like to manage bids yourself.
After importing Smart Goals into Google Ads, let Smart Goals run for a few weeks to accumulate sufficient data. Then, to start using Smart Goals to optimize Google Ads performance, divide the cost of your ads by the number of completed Smart Goals. This is your cost per acquisition (CPA). You can set your target CPA in Google Ads accordingly.
You spent $2,000 in Google Ads over the past two weeks and have 80 Smart Goals conversions. Therefore, the average CPA for a Smart Goals session during that time period is $25 ($2,000 / 80 = $25). This is the average cost for you to acquire a session with a high likelihood to convert, based on the Smart Goals model.
In this example, you should set your target CPA in Google Ads to $25.
The Smart Goals report
To help you see how Smart Goals perform, use the Conversions > Goals > Smart Goals report. This report shows you how your Smart Goals traffic differs from other traffic. You can also include the Smart Goal Completed dimension in custom reports.
The Smart Goals report shows you how Smart Goals would perform even before enabling them in your view (assuming you are eligible to use Smart Goals in the first place). This lets you determine if Smart Goals will be of benefit to you before going through all the steps above.
Limitations of Smart Goals
Smart Goals are subject to the following limits and restrictions.
- Smart Goals are not configurable or customizable.
- You can have one Smart Goal per view.
- Smart Goals will take up 1 of the 20 available goal slots (like any other goal).
- Smart Goals are currently only available for website views. Smart Goals cannot be used for mobile app views.
- Smart Goals are not available for views that receive more than 1 million hits per day.
- Smart Goals do not support View-Through Conversions (VTCs) or cross-device conversions in Google Ads.
Why do my Smart Goals suddenly change?
The Smart Goal model may periodically adjust to account for changes to your site configuration or traffic. For example, if you add a new conversion with a high conversion rate, or an existing conversion with a previously high conversion rate drops off, you may see significant changes to your Smart Goals as the model adapts.
- Google Ads Conversion Tracking
- Import Analytics Goals & Transactions into Google Ads Conversion Tracking
- Download the "Linking analytics and ads" playbook