Is exit rate more important than bounce rate?

In this article you’ll read about the difference between exit rate and bounce rate. Find out which one is more important for your business and uncover your worst performing pages.

What is exit rate?

Just think of the last time you entered a website, checked 3 pages and then left. You actually did something on the website. It got your attention. Because the second page had interesting content it made you go to a 3rd one. You’ve read what was on it and then left.

This website is really popular and it got 100,000 users. They also followed your path but 90.000 of them had more time to spend and continued to other pages.

Thus, the last page you have visited has a 10% exit rate (10,000 exits divided by 100.000 sessions).

The exit rate is the number of people that left the website from a specific page divided by the total number of people that have visited that page from another page on the website.

Visual representation – follow the green line

exit rate visual representation
Exit rate vs bounce rate representation

10,000 users Landed on Page A. Half of them didn’t like what they saw and left.

The other half clicked on a CTA and got to Page B. Part of them did not like Page B that much so they left the website. 

The exit rate of Page B is 80% because 4,000 of them just left (4,000 exits divided by 5,000 sessions).

What is the difference between bounce rate and exit rate?

Take a look at the example again, but this time follow the orange line.

4,000 users LANDED on Page B. Half of them left so the Bounce rate of Page B is 50%.

The orange guys did absolutely nothing on the page, just bounced. The green users landed on a page, read the content, clicked on a button and continued to a second page.

They can be more important to you than the orange ones, as they have proven to be interested in your website.

To recap: if users do nothing on a website and exit, then they bounce off. If they do things and exit from a certain page, that page will have an exit rate.

Why is the exit rate important?

Even if Page A and Page B have exactly the same bounce rates, one is losing more users than the other.

Looking at the exit rate of Page B you can notice almost immediately that something is off. People exit a website if they have got the information that they wanted (this is the best case scenario). Or they exit because they were not satisfied with the page they’ve seen. Whatever the case might be, keeping an eye on your exit pages report is vital for your website.

Exit Pages Report

The Exit Pages report
Get to this report by browsing to Behavior -> Site Content -> Exit Pages

The exit pages report has only 4 columns. You can see your pages, the number of registered exits, the number of pageviews and the percentage of exits that happen on that page.

The screenshot above is taken from the Google Merchandise Store Exit Pages report. The biggest number of exits is registered on their homepage. However, this page has a slightly than average exit rate (34.42%) compared to the View Average. It is only natural that people exit from the homepage. If they reach a dead end, in this case a product page, they might go back to the homepage to look for something else. If they can’t find it then they leave.

Moreover, since this page is also receiving the highest number of pageviews it’s natural to have the highest number of exits too.

Filter and sort the Exit Pages report to see the biggest problems

Exit Pages report sorted and filtered

I have filtered the report to display only the pages that have over 500 pageviews and sorted the results based on % Exit. This helps me see the pages with the biggest problems.

If you do this, take note of the top 5 pages in your report and go over them.

Be sure that the information on them is up to date, that your links and buttons do what they are supposed to be doing and that there are no bugs on them. 

Going back to my example one more time

the exit rate vs bounce rate visual representation
Exit rate vs bounce rate representation

If this would be your page you would see it in the first place on the Exit Pages report (when sorting by % Exit). Hypothetically, let’s presume that 1 user is worth 50 cents.

As 4000 users exit from this page, you lose around $2000. If you find out about this leak you are one step closer towards repairing it.

By making just 10% of users to continue towards your next step of the funnel, you will be making $200 more! It’s that simple. Acknowledge the problem and you are one step closer to better results.

Is exit rate more important than bounce rate?

No. Both are really important metrics to keep an eye on. The bounce rate is really important for your landing pages. If users bounce then there is a problem that needs to be solved.

Same goes for the exit pages. If too many users exit from a specific page, then you should focus your attention towards that page and be sure to fix any problems that might cause this.

Even if these 2 metrics feel alike, they are completely different and should be treated with the attention they deserve.

By Dan Cucolea

I am a conversion rate optimization specialist at Ontrack Digital.
I am a Spreadsheets Wizard who can translate any data into a lovely graph that even has a story behind it.

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