Despite everything you do to attract people to your website, sooner or later, they’re going to have to leave.
However, you don’t want them to leave for the wrong reasons.
You've got a sleek website full of relevant content, and your total pageviews look good – yet your prospects are leaving more than they're converting.
What’s driving this exodus?
It's easy to find out with Google Analytics' exit pages tool.
Exit pages are those areas of your site that – for whatever reason – are convincing your visitors to click away.
In this guide, we'll explore:
- Why exit pages are always important to analyze
- How you can easily use Google Analytics (GA) to track exits
- What you can do to reduce unnecessary exits in the future
You don't have to be a website guru to make the most of GA's insights, although expert help is never more than a click away.
Let's get started.
What’s an Exit Page?
An exit page is the last page a visitor accesses before clicking off your website.
It's the last step of a customer's journey with you online.
For example, people interested in contacting a lawyer may visit a law firm’s “contact us” page or complete a web form last as part of the checkout process. It’s the final action they need to take on the site.
Therefore, any page of your website can be an exit page. We typically define exit pages as those with the most exits (i.e., the highest exit rate).
However, high exit rates are sometimes a good thing.
For example, the highest number of times customers exit a page on your website should be at the checkout or after a successful contact submission message on the thank you page.
When the page with your highest exit rate is midway through checkout or an otherwise random service page, you need to make some adjustments.
Exit rate vs. bounce rate: What’s the difference?
An "exit rate" calculates how many visitor sessions ended on a specific page. Meanwhile, a "bounce rate" shows how many "single-page sessions" your website experiences in a given period.
A single-page session is when a visitor looks at one page, perhaps landing via online search, and then clicks away again.
We calculate exit and bounce rates as percentages – and while they seem to be similar concepts, knowing the differences between them is crucial for your website's ongoing health.
Bounce rates tell us:
- How relevant a website is to online searchers
- How engaging your content is
- How usable your website may be for different audiences and devices
Ultimately, a bounce rate gives you a good indication of your website’s overall effectiveness. The lower the number, the healthier it is.
Exit rates, meanwhile, tell us:
- Which pages people exit on the most
- Precisely where people choose to leave
- Where you need to make changes to your website
All told, bounce and exit rates work together to help you gauge your website's performance with your audience. Once you know which pages your visitors exit from the most, it's easy to start fine-tuning their content and performance.
However, it’s vital to measure organic traffic first. These are clicks from people who find you through online search results and social media.
With this, you should also measure where people land, i.e., where they begin their online journey. With these two additional insights, building a clearer picture of your median customer journey is easy.
Measuring exit pages is also a central component of any profitable internet advertising or marketing campaign, as they provide unique insights into whether or not you’re reaching the right audience.
How To Identify Exit Pages in Google Analytics
Now that you know why exit pages are important to your website's health, here's how to see which pages hold the highest exit rates in Google Analytics.
For this section, we'll assume you already have Google Analytics 4 (GA4) set up and optimized for the website you wish to analyze.
Remember, GA4 is always likely to update with future releases – and the following guide is accurate as of June 2023. As a rule, always ensure you keep up-to-date on the latest releases of GA4.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to identify exit pages in GA:
1. First, log into Google Analytics and ensure you access the "property" or website you'd like to analyze.
2. Then, head to "explore" and choose a new "Blank" exploration. This exploration is your exit page analysis.
3. On the next screen, enter a short description or name for your exploration, so you can easily access it in the future. We suggest “Google Analytics exit pages.”
4. Next to the “DIMENSIONS” header, click or tap the “+” to open up the dimension selector menu.
5. Here, there's a series of dropdown menus. Click or tap the "Page/screen" header, and a series of checkboxes will appear.
6. Select the checkbox marked "Page path and screen class." Then, click or tap the blue "Import" button at the top-right of this window.
7. You'll now be in the main exploration menu again, and "Page path and screen class" will appear under the "DIMENSIONS" header. You must now click or tap the "+" next to the "METRICS" header.
8. On the next screen, choose the metrics you want to track. Click the "Page/screen" dropdown menu to reveal a series of checkboxes.
9. Check the boxes for “exits” and “views,” but don’t select “Import” again just yet.
10. Tap or click the "Session" dropdown menu and check the box marked "Bounce rate." You can then select the blue "Import" button at the top-right.
11. You're now back on the exploration menu. Click or tap and drag the "Path page and screen class" box under "DIMENSIONS" across to the "ROWS" header, which is in the second column to the right. It drags neatly underneath it.
12. Scroll down this right-hand column and find the "VALUES" header. Drag the "Exits," "Views," and "Bounce rate" boxes from under the "METRICS" header (on the left) underneath "VALUES" instead.
13. If successful, there should be a new list of web pages with exits, views, and bounce rate data to the right of your screen. You can organize this data based on the highest exit rates to see where most visitors leave your website.
Here’s a snapshot of a complete exit page analysis on GA4:
The Top Insights You Gather by Analyzing Your Exit Pages
We've considered the "how" of Google Analytics exit pages, so let's now consider the "why."
Once you put together an exit page report and know which pages have the highest exit rates, you can use this information to drill down into what's driving the exodus.
If the pages with your highest exit rates are checkout completion or form submission pages, congratulations – your website's reasonably healthy. Of course, there's always room to improve, so consider your bounce rate, too.
Research shows that average bounce rates vary depending on your type of website.
For example, landing pages and blogs have high bounce rates, while e-commerce websites have lower rates. Generally, you need to make changes if your bounce rate is higher than 46%.
Keep an open mind. Remember, even Google Analytics isn't perfect at pinpointing a whole journey's context. For example, what if someone decides to call you but happens to do so from a different page than the checkout page?
Here are some key insights to take away from your exit page analysis:
|Insight||Why it’s important|
|Measure your CTAs (and create new ones if you need to)||Encourage your readers to make a final decision in your favour|
|Understand how engaging your site content is||Show your readers you’re an authority and keep them on the page|
|Check page load speeds||Lower visitor frustration and monopolize fast-paced searcher habits|
|Learn how your web architecture affects visitors||Help your readers find where they’re going and prevent confusion leading to exits|
|Discover visitor interests||Potentially broaden your marketing scope and place more emphasis on pages performing well|
|Understand how your conversion or sales funnel works||Analyze the average visitor journey(s) through your website and how you can help them further|
Let’s dive deeper into this insight.
1. Measure your CTAs (and create new ones if you need to)
Your CTAs, or calls to action, encourage people to take the next step with you.
If your exit rates are high for a particular page, you may need to make your calls more engaging, easier to follow, or more explicit.
You may even need to create new CTAs altogether. A simple call to action makes the crucial difference between your reader going elsewhere and taking the next step.
2. Understand how engaging your content is
People will click away from content that’s:
It can be challenging to tell which content engages best with visitors.
Exit page data, however, shows which content performs better than others.
If one page has a much higher exit rate than other generic or service content pages, you likely need to tighten it up. Look carefully at pages with lower exit rates. What can you learn from these pages to transfer to the main exit?
3. Check page load speeds
The slower your pages load, the fewer people stay on your website.
The maximum window to keep visitor attention is around ten seconds. However, you should capture interest within the first three seconds to reduce bounce risk:
Test your page load speeds with different devices and browsers (more info further down).
4. Learn how your web architecture affects visitors
How you lay out your website affects how long your visitors stay on the page.
Are your pages and posts organised in categories or clear hierarchies?
Website architecture is crucial for on-page search optimization. That's because a website that is practically and intuitively laid out is easier to navigate, less frustrating to browse, and more engaging for readers.
Pages with high exit rates may be “orphans” that don’t link clearly to specific categories or topics.
A balanced, practical approach to website hierarchy should look like the template below, with your home page being the head of the diagram and page categories being the next line, breaking down into services, products, and so on:
If you find your highest exit rates are for pages that are too deep in this funnel system, it's time to reallocate them, merge them with pages higher up, or even rethink your architecture completely.
5. Discover visitor interests
Here's an interesting perk to exit page analytics – you gain digital marketing insights.
For example, are specific service or product pages driving up more exits than others?
You may need to reallocate resources to pages with low exit rates, or you may need to rethink your services and marketing entirely.
Exit page analyses also indicate which pages you must promote – i.e., your most popular services and products.
6. Understand how your conversion or sales funnel works
Alongside analyzing your entrances and landing pages, you can use exit page data to determine the first page your visitors start on, where they travel to, and where they leave.
Exit page analyses show you where there may be funnel “blockages.”
Can you redirect anywhere else on your website to keep people engaged?
Or can you merge a page with high exit rates with another that scores low on exits and occurs earlier in the average user journey?
How To Improve Your Exit Pages and Lower Your Exit Rates
Once you know the potential insights available through Google Analytics’ exit pages tool, it’s time to improve your user experience.
Here are 11 tips to help you reduce exit rates on the right pages.
|Boost content readability||Readers want clear, concise answers to queries and don't want to pore through walls of text|
|Match content to user intent||Attract specific local and service searchers to boost on-page retention time and reduce exit risk|
|Speed up your page loading times||Cut down the risk of frustrated visitors leaving after three to ten seconds|
|Improve your internal linking||Allow readers to stay on-site and in your funnel|
|Say no to popups and intrusive ads||Avoid frustrating visitors by reducing ads and content that disrupt their experiences (and therefore encourage them to leave)|
|Craft compelling CTAs||Tell your readers what they should do next and how they can interact with you|
|Make sure your site is readable across all browsers||Prevent visitors from clicking away out of frustration with poorly-formatted content and navigation|
|Optimize for mobile readers||As above, but focusing on the devices that drive almost two-thirds of global web traffic|
|Link to related posts||Link externally and internally to prove your authority and boost legitimacy and trust|
|Test-drive your website||Check site speed, internal links, media, and more before you "go live"|
|Track your exit clicks||Learn how people click away as well as why by checking exit habits with Google Tag Manager|
1. Boost content readability
Content readability is the biggest driver for people to stay on a page or look elsewhere. Generally, you can break this concept down into three key questions to ask yourself:
- Does my content answer questions related to keywords and terms I optimize for?
- Do I use language and terminology that are easy for most people to understand?
- Have I formatted my content so it’s easy to digest, avoiding walls of text and breaking paragraphs every two to three lines?
Make sure to distinguish readability from engagement. Do you fill your sentences with fluff, use lots of metaphors, and dance around the point?
In most cases, less is more.
Add personality, be friendly yet professional, but tell readers what they want to know and how you can help them.
More than half of your visitors will spend fewer than 15 seconds reading your content. In the online content game, every word counts.
Considering that, it may be worth asking for content writing support.
Here’s a great example of readable, concise content that answers questions without fluff:
2. Match content to user intent
To attract searchers who will spend more time on your website than most and are less likely to drive up exit rates on the wrong pages, pitch your content to specific needs.
For example, consider using city pages for people looking for local services. Searchers looking for a “lawyer in Bridgewater” will find you and follow the funnel through if you create a city page that’s relevant to their needs and proximity.
Here’s how a local page might look once live.
Don’t neglect service content. Create niche pages for specific offerings, such as separate landing pages for personal injury lawyers and family lawyers.
People will only exit after calling or contacting you if the information on these pages is relevant.
Here’s what a successful legal service page looks like once live.
Try this technique when blogging, too. On the back of keyword research, try to build content around search queries popular with your target audience.
Create comprehensive and niche guides to specific queries and areas you can provide insight in. These posts will help readers with their research, and if you appear authoritative enough and have strong CTAs, they will follow your funnel.
Here's an example of a law firm blog post targeting a niche yet important concern.
3. Speed up your page loading times
Your web pages need to load within three seconds to really capture the interest of the average searcher.
That means you – or your web design team – must dive deep into what's causing speed problems. For example, are many large images, video embeds, and other media cluttering your page?
Remember, media such as videos and images can improve SEO when used appropriately, so don’t simply cut them all out for the sake of doing so.
There are several advanced techniques to speed up web page loading times, but we recommend using a speed checker such as GTmetrix to check your performance per page as a starting point.
4. Improve your internal linking
Orphaned pages left adrift without links can feel like dead ends.
While they may be useful, they offer little inspiration for readers to explore your other content.
Look for linking opportunities to other guides and posts on your website. You encourage prospects to find out more about your specialties, and you also establish yourself as a knowledgeable authority.
Audit internal links already live on your site and ensure they lead to the right pages.
Internal linking keeps people on your website for longer, too.
5. Say no to popups and intrusive ads
While we’re in an age where people are savvier than ever about avoiding annoying web ads (more than 763 million ad blocker users exist worldwide), many websites still use intrusive advertising.
While some ads may be useful (e.g., to warn about cookies), US searchers despise popup or modal advertising above all other techniques.
Organic advertising is effective and widely preferred by web users.
Intrusive ads are off-putting and make you appear desperate.
That said, “exit-intent” popups occasionally help keep people on the page. For example, you could receive a popup when you’re about to click away.
6. Craft compelling CTAs
As mentioned above, CTAs need to be engaging and direct and may even need to hold the hands of your readers a little.
You can increase your conversion rate (and lower your exits) simply by reducing a CTA to fewer than ten words.
Although you should always credit visitors with intelligence, always offer clear direction on what they should do next.
Here's a simple yet effective CTA from a law firm website that gets right to the point and directs the reader to the next step.
7. Make sure your site is readable across all browsers
Hypothetically, all web browsers should display content the same way. However, different browsers use different plugins, show font styles and media differently, and will need updates at different times.
Ensuring your web pages are readable and accessible through all the main browsers for desktop and mobile (with the help of a leading web design agency) helps you cover all bases.
You stand less chance of losing frustrated readers through exit pages if they can easily read content without having to refresh, pinch, and zoom.
8. Optimise for mobile readers
Mobile browsing is no joke. At the time of publication, over 60% of people browsing the internet use mobile devices such as smartphones, and that figure is still growing.
If your web page is slow to load on mobile, the information doesn't fit cleanly on a smaller screen, or you lead readers to poorly formatted pages for smartphones and tablets, people will click away in frustration.
Leading web designers and developers tend to offer mobile optimization for websites by default.
Here’s a comparison between mobile and desktop versions of one of our client’s websites.
9. Link to related posts
We've already covered internal linking, but remember that external linking is just as important for healthy traffic flows and retaining interest.
Link building to authority sites helps boost your authority, and you may even receive links back in return, helping improve your visibility in specific search rankings.
Moreover, linking to relevant guides keeps people interested in what you have to say, builds trust, and encourages readers to stick with you. It shows your clients you care about solving their problems, nudging them closer to your client intake process.
10. Test-drive your website
You don’t have to launch all the above and wait to see what happens next.
It’s easy to test some of the technical improvements to your web pages.
For example, run a complete audit of your web pages and check that all internal links go where they should. Update external links and ensure content is still up-to-date and relevant.
Check load speeds through your browsers and devices. Try accessing your website through Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on desktop and mobile.
Do you have any broken images or embedded videos? Is any of your content outdated or no longer relevant? Do you need to update your contact information?
11. Track your exit clicks
You can also track exactly how people exit your web pages (and thus your site). Do they click "back" on their browser buttons? Are they closing browsers or tabs altogether? Or are they clicking off-site to go elsewhere?
You can’t track how people click away through GA4, but you can use Google Tag Manager to identify how and when visitors click specific buttons, pages, and other resources on the page.
This tutorial goes into a little more detail.
Click tracking is great for analyzing how you can intercept those all-important exits and which pages need the most support. You can even follow the linked technique to create tracking for CTA buttons.
Google Analytics Exit Pages FAQs
Don't worry if there are a few more questions you'd still like to raise – we’ve thought ahead and prepared answers to five common concerns about exit pages and GA4.
“What is a landing page vs. an exit page on Google Analytics?”
Landing pages are pages people arrive at through online searches, while exit pages are pages people visit last before exiting a website.
In Google Analytics, you track landing pages based on how often visitors click through, how long they stay on them, and when they click away.
“What are entrances and exits in Google Analytics?”
Entrance rates show the number of sessions visitors start on a specific page, whereas exit rates show how many visitor sessions end on a page.
“What is the difference between pageviews and entrances?”
Entrances show us how often a page was the first one visitors accessed.
Meanwhile, the number of pageviews tells us how often pages are visited, regardless of when somebody accessed them in a session.
“Why are exit pages so important?”
Exit pages tell us where visitors are most likely leaving websites.
Therefore, we use pages with high exit rates to help finetune online content and user experience and keep visitors on-site.
“What is a “good” exit rate in Google Analytics?”
A "good" exit rate depends on your type of website.
A percentage between 20%-30% is a healthy margin for most pages midway through a visitor's journey. If your rate is any higher than 50%, you must revisit your content.
Close the Door on Google Analytics Exit Pages
Exit pages aren’t always bad. After all, your visitors need to leave you behind eventually.
It’s never healthy to see exit rates skyrocket on service pages, product links, midway through checkout, or on your home page.
Checking your top exit pages is one of several healthy SEO habits you can build on quickly.
Google Analytics’ exit pages tool helps you to:
- Learn more about why people leave your site
- Make your website more appealing and relevant for searchers
- Boost your sales conversions and keep your funnel moving
Of course, you don't have to manage GA4 exit pages alone. If you're new to the web development world or don't have time to spare, dNOVO is always on hand to support you.
In the meantime, we highly recommend you look at our complete guide to conversion optimization, built with lawyers in mind.