“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!
Greetings, and welcome to the new MoreVisibility Analytics and Site Intelligence Blog! My name is Joe Teixeira, and I’m the Manager of Web Intelligence here at MoreVisibility. I’ll be doing most of the posting here, but from time to time, some of my co-workers and colleagues will join in on the fun.
I was thinking of what my first blog post would be about, and I’ve decided to talk about one of the most common items that is brought up in Web Analytics discussions, especially for newcomers to Web Analytics. Most analytics packages, like Google Analytics, show a metric named “Bounce Rate”, and also show a metric named “Exit %”, or “Exit Percentage”. At first glance, these metrics may look very similar, and you may even interpret them to mean the same thing. However, they are two COMPLETELY separate metrics, calculated two entirely different ways.
First, lets define a “Bounce”. A “Bounce” is a single-page visit to your website. For example, John lands on your homepage, www.xyz.com, and leaves your site without visiting any other pages on your website – that’s a “Bounce”. The “Bounce Rate” is calculated by taking the total number of Bounces (to your website or a set of pages, depending on what you’re looking at), and dividing it by the total number of Visits (to your website or a set of pages, depending on what you’re looking at).
The Exit Percentage is calculated by taking the total number of Exits, and dividing them by the total number of Pageviews (Not Visits – Pageviews). The Exit Percentage doesn’t care whether or not any of the Pageviews were from visitors who viewed 1 page, or viewed 1,000 pages – it simply does the math, and prints it in your Web Analytics interface.
Usually after explaining this difference, the follow-up questions that I usually get are “So, which one do I look at? / Which one do I use?”
I have a pretty simple rule: “Never make any analysis based off of one metric or one statistic”. So, you should never think of “looking” or “using” one individual metric to make any kind of decisions – you should always look at the complete picture of your website’s data, and then go from there. However, every rule has an exception, and this one is no different. If there was any metric in Web Analytics that you could make a very strong argument for using by itself, without the support of any other metrics, it would be the Bounce Rate. Think about what the Bounce Rate is calculating – it’s calculating the percentage of visits to your website who viewed one page on your website, and then left. If the visitors to your website were engaged and reacted positively to your website when they first landed on it, wouldn’t you think they would at least visit another page on your site, instead of leaving it entirely? Especially if you are looking for people to interact and visit the other pages on your site?
With Exit Percentage, all you can say is “This Percentage of Exits happened from this page / this set of pages”, without separating visits that Bounced from visits that did not Bounce. It’s impossible to draw any conclusions or formulate any hypotheses from this, as you can from the Bounce Rate metric. Also, keep in mind that, at some point in time, a visitor to your website ultimately has to leave your website (unless they are some sort of android that can stay awake and on a website infinitely).
So, I would recommend for you to pay close attention to your Bounce Rate – especially if you have a website featuring multiple pages (not counting blogs or single informational pages). Of course, the lower the Bounce Rate, the better, and the more engaged visitors are with your website. I can’t give you any kind of solid figure or benchmark on what your Bounce Rate should look like, but chances are that if 2 out of every 3 visits to your website are Bouncing, you may have a big problem that requires your immediate attention. If 1 out of three (or less) are Bouncing, chances are probably pretty good that you’re doing something right.