GA Navigation Summary: What do those numbers mean?

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June 23, 2009

Jesse, who just attended our GA training in NYC sent me an email, asking me this question about the navigation summary (caution: the answer is easy, but the question is hard to understand).   “When you look at the ‘next page,’ are the % Clicks based on all next pages or all next “moves?”  In other words, do the percentages take exits into account?

Usually, I have to test that kind of thing, but I had a ready made test — a profile for a new, tiny site that I had set up not hours ago. Here is what I saw when I looked at the navigation summary:

navigation2

Notice that there were only ten pageviews of the homepage, which we see in the middle of the picture. So there had to be exactly ten “next moves” — everyone who looked at the homepage had to do something else after that. One clearly left, and there were clearly nine next pages, and the % clicks (the column all the way to the right, which is the column in question) is obviously based on the total number of next moves — not just on next pages.

And remember, no one gets to ask why the previous pages mirror the next pages so perfectly unless they first read this post about pages that refer to themselves and  Google Analytics Gang Signals.

Robbin

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics ten years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a recent Diamond Award for business leadership. You should read her letter before you decide to work with us.

  • http://www.morevisibility.com Joe T.

    Ahh…that’s right, I remember the Google Analytics Gang Signals! :)

  • Jesse

    Thanks for the help! I’d like to nominate “% of Clicks” as an honorable mention to your “Deadly Titles” list. Counting an exit as a click seems pretty off to me.

  • http://nature.org Leigh Ann

    I have a question about the navigation summary report. Does it include bounces? From what I have seen on our site, it doesn’t seem to — but I would like someone to tell me explicitly that it doesn’t.

    All of the definitions I see for “exit” simply say it is the page from which a visitor leaves your site. Well, a bounce is a page from which a visitor leaves your site also. But are bounces and exits calculated completely separately, or do exits include bounces? Does exit imply a visit to a previous page, and entrance imply a visit to a following page? I’m getting dizzy…

  • http://uclan.ac.uk Dominic

    A slightly linked question. Why do exit rates on the navigation summary differ from that on the preceeding content detail. For some of our pages we have 0% exit rate on the navigation summary which is 21.56% on the content detail. What does Navigation summary not include?

    • Robbin

      Yes. A lot of people are asking that same question. Stay tuned.

  • Jelle

    I am very curious to that post. I can’t find it anywhere!

  • http://www.clickr.nl Martijn van Well

    Found this topic via Google having the same question as Dominic.
    Has there been any development on that issue?

    I now have a page which is used as a landingspage in combination with an Adwords Campaign. With 2.000 pageviews in the selected period a bounce rate of 70%, and 72% exiting the website via this page, the navigation details shows a percentage of 0!

    Strangly all the pages have a exitpage of 0% in content detail.

    Any idea what causes this?

    • Robbin

      I feel like one Navigation Summary problem gets fixed and two more spring up. That would be my contribution to “developments….”

  • Grace

    The information was very helpful.

  • http://www.bigbeardesign.net Emil

    Same problem as Dominic’s and Martijn’s. I have a page that has 75.29% Bounce Rate and 76.49% Exit but has 0% Exits in Navigation Summary.

    Also, under Top Exit Pages it has about 86k exits (21% of Site Total)

    Wierd.

    • Robbin

      Emil/Dominic/Martin, that report is just not great. Maybe we need to accept that and move on to other reports…..

  • http://www.newmediapartners.nl Anouk

    Did you found any solution yet ? Have the same problem!

  • Bob

    Another nav summary question:
    How can the nav summary for a specific page tell me that “x” percentage advance and a funnel visualization report tell me that the percentage along the same path (ie. from point a to point b in both cases) is something totally different and not even close?
    I’ve posted more detailed info here as well:
    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Analytics/thread?tid=6d0254410e3c8571&hl=en

  • http://seaturtles.org Dan

    @Robbin, my observations seem inconsistent with your explanation. Can you clarify?

    I have a page with 66 page views. 40.91% go to next pages (not exit). 40.91% of 66 is 27, quite nicely. The percentages in the list of next pages add up to 100%, quite nicely. But the percentages for two of the next pages are 25.00% (.2500*27=6.75), and for 5 of the next pages are 4.17% (.0417*66=1.13). The percentages correspond to fractional pages. This makes no sense.

    Suggestion for google (supposing a google employee may be lurking): Display (1) counts of pages as well as percentages, and (2) the total of the next pages figures, and (3) the total of previous pages figures. Provide a continuous detection audit of the figures.

  • Has

    Should the sum of ‘% Clicks’ in previous pages section be equal to that of the ‘Previous Pages %’ labelled just over the table ??

    • Robbin Steif

      No, they usually won’t. You only get the top ten pages on both sides, and there is some duplication. It is not a great report.

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