Hidden Google Analytics Gems: Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths

MoreVisibility - August 5, 2011

Today, we’d like to highlight two reports within the Google Analytics platform that are not often used, yet can be highly beneficial for understanding even more about how your visitors consume, digest, and engage with your website.

These two reports are called Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths.

Navigation Summary

Navigation Summary in Google Analytics is a clean way to view, for any individual page, which pages visitors came from and which pages visitors went to next. It’s a three-page path analysis: the previous page, the selected page, and the next page.

In the new Google Analytics platform, Navigation Summary is bolted on to the Site Content >> Pages report as a tab (This report is found within the Content section of the left-hand navigation menu).

Here’s how this report works. When you click on the Navigation Summary tab within the Site Content >> Pages report, you’ll see two distinct tables below the trending graph. This screen-shot is the left-hand side of that report:


The Current Selection is by default your website’s homepage, but you can change the current selection by clicking on it and choosing any page that you want to use Navigation Summary for. For any selected page, you get to see the percentage of direct entrances to the page, and the percentage of previous pages (for your home page, don’t be surprised if you see direct entrances at 75% or more).

There are no previous pages on your site for any visitor who landed on your current selected page (because, it’s the first page of their visit to your website), but for all other visits, you see a list of the top ten previous pages where visitors were immediately, before your current selected page. This list in under the heading of Previous Page Path in the above screen-shot. You will see (entrances) in parenthesis, and then any previous page with the percentage of page views off of each previous page.

Clicking on any previous page will make that page the currently selected one (for fast analysis), and you can search for previously viewed pages beyond the top ten with a convenient search box as shown at the bottom of the above screen-shot.

On the right-hand side of the report, you see the percentage of exits from your selected page, and a listing of the top ten next pages that visitors went to directly after viewing your currently selected page. You’ll see a listing of next pages and the percentage of page views to each next page:


The data that Navigation Summary uses is based on your date-range, which you can change as you can for any report. You can also apply Advanced Segments to view this data for certain subsets of traffic (for example, all organic traffic from Google, or all traffic from your Email marketing newsletter).

Entrance Paths

Entrance Paths is somewhat similar to Navigation Summary, but it works differently and shows different data.

Entrance Paths is a tab found within the Site Content >> Landing Pages report in the same Content section off the left-hand navigation menu. Entrance Paths shows any Landing Page (entry point into your website), the next page that someone viewed (like Navigation Summary), and the page that visitors exited the site from (the last page in visitor’s sessions).

Here is the left-hand side of the Entrance Paths report:


On the Entrance Paths report, when you click on any Next Page (under the column of Second Page in the table shown in the above screen-shot), you will see the Exit Page (the last page) that visitors viewed for the selected second page, as shown in the below screen-shot:


Date-range modifications, Advanced Segments, and in-report searches are also available with Entrance Paths.

Why are these two reports “Hidden Gems”?

We are calling Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths “Hidden Gems” because they are seldom used reports. They’re also not available off of the left-hand navigation menu directly, which somewhat hides them from view.

These reports can be excellent in giving you insight into how visitors are using your website pages. Navigation Summary can show you if your website’s visitors are following the paths that you’re looking for them to take to ultimately complete a desired action. Entrance Paths can give you insight into how your marketing landing pages are performing, and the effectiveness of how each entry point into your website is behaving as a conduit for where you’d like your visitors to ultimately wind up.

And remember, each report can be segmented and modified by a date-range, so you can zero-in on any traffic segment for deep visitor analysis.

Start using Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths in Google Analytics to enhance your website visitor knowledge!

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