Navigation, Bounce And Exit

November 6, 2009

A while ago, we wrote a post about the Google Analytics navigation report.  The great thing about blog posts is that they last and last, and today, someone posted a multi-part question about the Navigation report.  So (assuming that lots of people have the same questions) here are hers, and here are the answers.


1. Do the exits in the navigation report include exits bounces? (sorry about that original typo, now corrected)  Answer: Yes. This was easy to find out using the new Advanced Filter that everyone now has in Google Analytics and filtering on pageviews = 1, bounce rate = 100% and exit rate = 100%. Then when I found the names of those pages, I went to the navigation report, and voila! saw that they all the “next moves” in the report were exits.

2. Are bounces and exits calculated completely separately, or do exits include bounces? Answer: Exits include bounces. A bounce is just a special kind of an exit, i.e. the user not only exited on that page, but entered there, too.

3. Does exit imply a visit to a previous page?  Answer: No. But if you like, we can think of two kinds of exits:  those that had a visit to a previous page in the visit, and those that did not. The later category has a special name for it: a bounce.

Now I will ask an extreme question that she did not ask, and hopefully throw this all into relief:

4. If Exits include bounces, how can my bounce rate be 100% and my exit rate be only 50%? Answer: Let’s say we have four visits that included a trip to a page we are interested in. Visit one landed on that page and left the site entirely (a bounce.) Visit two and three started on the home page, checked our our page, and then continued to look at other pages. Visit four landed on the home page, and left from our page.

  • Visit one: A bounce from this page (which means it is also an exit)
  • Visit two: Neither a bounce nor an exit
  • Visit three: Neither a bounce nor an exit
  • Visit four: An Exit

So our bounce rate is 100% for this page, because ever single visit that started on this page also left immediately (remember that was only one visit, the first one.) Our exit rate is 50%, because two visits (the first and last) left  at this page, but there were four pageviews (2/4 = 50%).

5) Let’s ask one more question (which is really the same as the last question, dressed up in new clothes): How can I possibly have a 100% bounce rate? People love this page. I see it in the funnel, lots of visits continue from it. What is this 100% bounce rate nonsense? Answer: Bounce rate is only computed for visits that start on the page in question. You may have millions of happy visitors who eventually navigate to a page deep inside the site, and only one guy actually lands on that page (and leaves). That one guy makes the bounce rate 100%.  And all those happy visitors? They didn’t start on the page, so they don’t get to a share of voice in the bounce rate equation.