Exit pages are one of many metrics tracked by Google Analytics. They are exactly what they sound like – the last page a user visited before leaving your website. Knowing where people left your website is invaluable information for improving your website’s effectiveness. Here’s what you need to know to make informed decisions with this data.
Exit page vs bounce rate – understand the difference.
Bounce rate refers to the rate at which people come to your website, take no real action, and then leave. A bounce can only occur when a user first visits your website and takes no action before leaving your website.
Since most people access websites starting at the homepage the bounce rate is usually highest on the homepage. This also means users who land on the homepage have an exit page of the homepage.
Good exits vs bad exits
Everyone leaves your website sooner or later and that’s not necessarily bad. The goal usually isn’t to keep users on your site but to get them to fulfill your conversion goals. The exit page by itself doesn’t give you everything you need. Look at your conversion rate, custom events, average time on site, and average time on page as indicators. If you have service like HotJar installed you can also check your page heatmap for more indicators on how users are behaving.
Every website has different goals so there is no one-size-fits-all way of determining if the exits are good or bad. It’s up to you to determine that yourself. If your conversions are low, or you have a very detailed service explanation on a page but the average time on the page is small those can be good indicators users exiting that page aren’t fulfilling your goals.
How to optimize your page to increase “good exits”
Once you’ve determined people are leaving without fulfilling your goals you need to determine why. Usually if someone leaves it can be summarized by one of these reasons:
- They found what they’re looking for. Your website met their goals, but didn’t provide enough incentive for them to fulfill your conversion goals.
- They didn’t find what they were looking for and decided their needs would best be met through someone else.
- There’s a problem with your website and they were unable to meet their needs or successfully fulfill the conversion goals.
How do you know which one of these is the real reason why? Here’s one of the best-kept secrets of the industry: You guess and use your best judgment. Don’t be afraid to schedule a consultation! Interpreting your website’s performance metrics is important and will help you come up with the winning strategy you need to deliver the results you are looking for!
Also remember each of your users is a unique individual human being. Every person has a slightly different reason for going to your website and a slightly different reason for leaving.
How to determine if your page is broken
The third reason people leave is something you don’t have to guess at. By pairing your page exit rate with data like device, browser, and average time on page you can usually find good data indicators that there’s a bug on your site. If the exit rate is higher for iPhone users on Safari for instance – that means there’s probably a bug on your site for iPhones.
The best way to confirm your suspicions is not to test this yourself though. Unless you have a background in QA we recommend passing that data off to an experienced QA professional. There are hundreds of different versions of every web browser. Any of those hundreds of browsers could be used across thousands of different devices creating millions of edge-case scenarios. Just because it works fine on your device doesn’t mean it will work perfectly for everyone else. The most efficient way to determine if there’s functional problems on your website is to work with a QA professional.