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Old school solutions: Confusion over exit rates on Top Content Data of the Google Analytics Report.

Posted on | February 3, 2009 | No Comments

One of the more important metric I have considered for Landing Page optimization has been the Exit Rate or the number of visits that have directly left the site without going through any other pages. Compared with Bounce Rate , were a visitor might have decided to visit other pages on the same site, Exit rate is more definitive on how a visitor immediately left the site. Whether the visitor left the page for not finding what he/she initially was looking for or was not “emotionally” engaged on the content, one can only surmise.

One Google Analytics report “inconsistency” has bothered me for sometime now and this is with regard to which data should be referenced with regards to the actual exit rate of a particular page.

Exit Rate Data from the Content General table

Initial Table

On the “Content” menu of the GA interface, you will find the “Top Content” submenu, were one will be able to see the pages that generated enough pageviews. Now on the initial table one can see the initial Metrics: Pageviews, Unique Pageviews, Bounce Rate and Exit Rates with the corresponding pages.

If you click on any of the pages, this will lead you to a summary of the metrics indicated on the initial table. On top of the page you will see 2 drop down options: 1 for analyze and the other for content . Opting to check the navigational summary on one of the pages (Page A), I was quite surprised why I was getting a higher exit rate compared to that shown on the initial table. At first I admittedly committed a mistake by not comparing the right data as I was comparing the exit rates from “PAID TRAFFIC”. Apparently one will also notice that the “All Visits” Exit Rate is way below the one reflected on the “Navigation Summary” data.

Page A

Page A

The initial data showed a 49.78% Exit Rate while on Page A a higher, 69.70%, exit rate was recorded. On the second item listed (Page B) on the initial table, you will also notice that the exit rate is at 54.94% while the navigation summary report for Page B shows a 76.51% exit rate.

Page B

Page B

Apparently I had 2 problems to solve: 1) How to track the exit rates and navigational summary data of Landing Pages that came from PPC, and 2) How to reduce this variance in exit rate by understanding either the proper metrics involved or something else.

For problem one the easier solution will be using segmentation via “paid traffic”, as shown on the initial table, but the data becomes “diluted” later on as you dig further into the navigation summary. The content options listed on the drop down shows the aggregate data for all traffic to a selected page and will not distinguish between organic or paid traffic.

My basic solutions, though I am not 100% sure, is this:

Adding a unique parameter to the destination URL, this was the old school way of tracking traffic coming from PPC when Google Analytics and Google Adword’s auto-tagging was not yet around. The thing is, Google Analytics will document each of the destination URL separately which will enable one to track them individually. Makes sense?

Initial Table w Paramters

Initial Table w Paramters

I’ll post the conclusion on the 2nd part of this document.


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