“How come the %Exit metric doesn’t say 100%? Everyone has to leave a website at some point, right?”
Measuring how visitors interact with your website – and how they consume your website – is the critical way in which you can refine and improve your website to provide an increased level of visitor satisfaction, and a higher profit margin.
Entrances, bounces, and exits are three foundational, bedrock metrics that Google Analytics uses in many different ways to help you measure your website’s effectiveness. As it turns out, there seems to be slight to moderate confusion about what these metrics represent, and what metrics like bounce rate and %exit really mean.
Let’s start by defining the aforementioned three foundational metrics:
Entrances – This is the number of entries by visitors into the pages of your website.
Bounces – This is the number of single-page visits by visitors of your website.
Exits – This is the number of exits from your website.
Pretty clear so far, right? Good. Now, it starts to get slightly trickier. How about we define another metric:
Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of single-page visits to your website. Bounce Rate is calculated by dividing bounces into entrances.
So, when you have a 60% bounce rate, 60% of your entrances left your website on the same page they entered from. In other words, they did not view another page. Also, when you have a 60% bounce rate, Avinash Kaushik’s head explodes. 🙂
Still with me? Great! Now let’s define the last of our metrics:
%Exit – This is the percentage of site exits from your website. %Exit is calculated by dividing exits into page views.
A-ha! You probably already knew or had an inclination toward what the first part of the definition would say, but then reading the second part, you start to see why the %Exit metric isn’t ever equal to 100%.
Now let’s take the final step.
Does everyone have to enter your website to view it? Yes. Does everyone have to leave your site at some point? Yes, they do. So, while the %Exit metric isn’t going to be 100%, the number of total exits should equal the number of total entrances.
A few images will help you understand everything you’ve been reading so far. I created a custom report in the new Google Analytics platform showing entrances, exits, page views, %exit, entrances / page views, bounces and bounce rate metrics. I also have the page as the dimension for my custom report. This first image shows the scorecard, which tallies up the totals for all metrics for the dimension that I have chosen:
As I expected, the number of total exits equals the number of total entrances (everyone has to come in to some page and everyone has to leave at some point). But the %Exit metric reads 58.92%, not 100% as you would initially think. So, I threw in the page views metric to give you some clarity as to how Google Analytics is calculating %Exit. 13,467 exits divided into 22,857 page views, all multiplied by 100% will give you 58.918%, which is rounded up to 58.92%.
However, viewing the very first line item of my custom report shows that the number exits does not equal the number of entrances for any given page, because not everyone leaves your website on the same page that they entered it from:
Here, the %Exit metric makes a little bit more sense, as it is not tallying up page views for all viewed pages on the site – only the /index.php page. 43.91% of all page views on the /index.php page resulted in an exit from the website from this particular page.
I hope that you were able to obtain some clarification and some deeper understanding of how some of the common metrics that you see in Google Analytics are tabulated and used by Google. Remember to always know what data you’re looking at – that is, get to be familiar with the way metrics are computed in Google Analytics (or, your web analytics platform of choice), as it will help you glean those insights that we all strive for!
In addition to recommending Google Analytics (GA) to our client base, we utilize GA as our analytics platform to track our internal web stats, as well. We are one of a few select companies to be named a Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) and according to Google “Certified Partners are carefully vetted by Google and meet rigorous qualification standards”. We are very proud of this honor and continue to educate clients (both large and small) on the ins and outs of GA.
Once GA is implemented onto a website, marketers suddenly find themselves with a wealth of knowledge and information they never had before. I get asked the same question over and over, which boils down to: What should I be looking for? While GA is extremely user friendly, especially compared to other platforms available today, it‘s also remarkably robust, thus making it (seem like) a daunting task to sift through all of the available data. You can literally get lost in GA for hours, discovering new and valuable information pertaining to your web stats. That being said, what should you be looking for? If brand new to GA, I find it a good exercise to simply start with the dashboard. As you become more comfortable, it will be less overwhelming to dive deeper into all of the reports GA has to offer.
GA defines their dashboard as “your customizable collection of report summaries”. Below is a screenshot from GA, which shows some of the default metrics; they can be arranged according to individual user preferences. Each metric can be clicked on in order to get more granular. Although the dashboard is rather basic, there are still a ton of valuable insights such as: Avg. time on site, bounce rate, pageviews, new visits, pages per visit, etc. The Map Overlay feature is particularly useful in determining where your site traffic originates from, plus which areas are converting into sales, leads, etc. You can drill all the way down to city.
All in all, GA is a comprehensive (not to mention free) tool that will prove to be mission critical in determining which online initiatives are fruitful for your business and which could be replaced. Every dollar counts and you ought to be armed with as much knowledge about your web stats as possible. If you have not already done so, check out our analytics page now and get started!
Google Analytics defines bounce rate as “the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.” Wikipedia defines it as “the percentage of initial visitors to a site who bounce away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.”
Both of these above definitions basically say the same thing. What a marketer needs to know is that the lower the bounce rate, the better. So what is considered a good bounce rate? There are actually many different opinions on this. Some experts say that 50% is average and anything lower is considered above average. Others say that a number below 30% is what you should be striving for.
Monitoring your bounce rate can be a very valuable tool, but also a bit misleading and therefore should definitely not be the only way you are measuring your performance. A high bounce rate typically translates into a visitor that was not sufficiently engaged and left your site without so much as visiting a second page. A high bounce rate is also an indication that your visitor was not as qualified as you had hoped for.
That being said, this may not always hold true for lead generation sites. Think about it this way…lets say that you’re running a Pay per Click (PPC) Campaign, you have a lead generation site and you are sending visitors directly to your form page. If a visitor fills out the form and your website is not configured correctly (in other words, the URL does not change when the form is filled out), this could result in a “bounce” when in actuality, your searcher completed the desired action item. This often occurs with blogs, as well. Visitors will reach your blog, read all of the way through and then exit when done. For this reason, blogs tend to have a high bounce rate, as well.
While I encourage you to pay attention to your bounce rate, as it can be a useful way to gauge progress, other factors should also considered, such as time on site, landing page quality, percentage of new visitors, etc.