Navigation Summary Google Analytics Explained

Something Not Right with the Google Analytics Navigation Summary Report? This post will give you a comprehensive understanding of the Navigation Summary report. Points covered include:

What is the Google Analytics Navigation Summary Report?

The Navigation Summary report shows you which Pages Visitors were on prior to arriving on a certain Page and where they went afterwards. Additionally, the Navigation Summary report shows you – for what percentage of your Visitors that Page was a Landing or Exit Page.

What can this report do for you?

The Navigation Summary report can identify;

  • if visitors are reaching a page the way you would expect them to
  • for how many visitors this page was an Entrance point to your website
  • if visitors are going where you would expect them to
  • if something is unnecessarily distracting them from the purchase funnel

This report is extremely useful for observing the effectiveness of your landing pages. I recommend printing out a copy of the Navigation Summary report for your landing page; look at the report and look at your actual landing page. Take note of where people went, are there unnecessary links, ads or images on your landing page? Are they taking your visitor away from the desired action (purchase, subscribe, download, view more, etc)? Maybe changing the order of the links will increase the Click Through Rate (CTR) to your desired goal. Use your intuition and inquisitiveness to figure out why people do certain things on your website, and whether it’s of benefit to you to change things around. I’ll focus on this topic at a later date… For now I want you to know interpret the Navigation Summary report correctly. Below is an example of what the navigation summary report looks like. Example of a Navigation Summary report

Why don’t the Entrances + Previous Pages or Exits + Next Page numbers add up to 100%?>

If you look at the screenshot above:

  • The total sum of the Previous Pages + Entrances only adds up to 55%
  • The total sum of the Next Pages + Exits only adds up to 35%

If you’ve noticed the same issue in your reports, the good news is that you’re not going crazy… by default Google Analytics doesn’t report all the Previous and Next pages, because it could literally display up to thousands of pages. For many Google Analytics users, all that information is unnecessary and distracting, if however that information is necessary for you – read on

How to View ALL the Previous and Next Pages in the Navigation Summary report

First click on the URL and go to the very end, you will see something similar to the following:
Delete this text
Secondly, delete the #lts1234567890987 (whatever number the number is) and replace it with &limit=1000 so it looks a little something like this:
Replace with &limit=1000
Hit enter and wait for the page to reload

What is this “&limit=1000” stuff? When you export the Navigation Report into a spreadsheet (explained shortly), it will display up to 1000 Previous and Next Pages. If you have more than 1000 pages to look at, you can change that number to 2000, 5000, etc. This will then display up to 2000, 5000, etc, Previous and Next Pages

Exporting the Navigation Summary into a Spreadsheet

After you hit Enter and the page has reloaded, you will still see the same report you saw previously. Next Click on ‘Export’ and then ‘CSV’, NOT ‘CSV for Excel’. Export to CSV
Open the file and behold all the missing Previous and Next Pages

Turn Percentages into a Number of Page Views

Want to know exactly how many people came from or went to a certain page, instead of just the percentages? We know there were a total of 3363 page views in our example. The numbers in column B represent a percentage. For example, 0.01553 = 1.55%. In column C multiply the percentage by the Total Page Views. In the example below, 0.01553 x 3363 to calculate Entrances.
Calculate the page views in excel
If you don’t see a whole number for your visits
, don’t worry about it. To simplify things… round the numbers up/down to nearest whole.

Do the numbers always add up to Total Page Views?

Yes. Entrances + Previous Pages = Total Page Views. Exits + Next Pages = Total Page Views. -

Turn Percentages into a Number of Page Views (Continued…)

Calculating previous pages
In the screenshot above, you can see in Column C I have multiplied the Percentage figure in column B by Total Page Views. Additionally I’ve rounded everything into whole numbers. When I go to the end of Previous Page summary and do a total count of the visits, the number adds up to 3311 which is exactly what it is in the overview of the Navigation Summary (see screenshot above). In other words, things add up perfectly. Sum of Previous Pages should add up perfectly -

Important: Calculating Next Pages is different to Previous Pages

When calculating Next Page visits, DO NOT multiply the percentages in column by total page views. Instead multiply them by total Next Pages (Total Page Views minus Exits). See the screenshot below for an example. Calculating Next Pages

Redundant Issues

Below is a list of a some known issues with the Navigational Summary in Google Analytics that are no longer an issue. I thought it was worthwhile to mention these, just in case you’re pulling your hair out.

In the Navigation Summary, why does it show 0% for Exits

For a little while, you may have noticed that in the Navigation Summary, Exits were always 0%. However, when looking at the Content Detail it was something different. This was simply a bug and the issue is now resolved.

Why does the Same Page show up as the Previous and Next Pages?

I haven’t experienced this problem for a while, but here’s a summary of the cause (in case the issue returns)  and how Google Analytics interprets the same events now.  The credit for the insight goes to Avinash and his friend Cari. You probably already know that Google Analytics tracks visitors using a JavaScript + Cookie. When a page is loaded by a visitor, the JavaScript loads and the data is collect (For example, what page the user is on and a time stamp, etc). If a visitor reloads a page (by hitting enter or F5, etc), Google Analytics will look at what page was previously loaded and the time stamp. Since the previous page loaded was the same page – Google Analytics then displayed the same page as the Previous and Next Page on the Navigation Summary report. Another occurrence that caused this Previous + Next Pages issue, is viewing an image (which isn’t tracked) on a blog and then clicking back to the original blog.

Of late, I noticed these occurrences to be interpreted as Entrance (when looking at the Navigation Summary report). In other words, reloading the page = Entrance, when looking at the Navigational Summary. When you look at the Top Landing Pages (A.K.A a list of top Entrance points for your website), don’t be surprised if the number of Entrances in this report is less than what is displayed in the Navigational Summary. I know, I know… Mind bending stuff. But that’s what Google had to do, to avoid the same page being displayed as the Previous and Next Page.

Did you enjoy the post?

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please share the knowledge and big it up on Twitter, Digg or whatever your favorite site is. Also, don’t forget to subscribe/follow/like ZeroInsight for future insights. If you spotted an error, have further insights or questions in regards to the Google Analytics Navigation Summary report, I’d love to hear about it.

18 thoughts on “Navigation Summary Google Analytics Explained

  1. Parleo

    Very clear explanation. Retweeted.
    I am working on something now and wonder if you could answer a question I have.
    I have made an advanced segment of just visitors with a certain landing page. If I then check this report for that page, should the Entrances number be 100%? That’s what I expected but in my case it’s around 60%. Any pointers for me?

    1. Dennis Graham Post author

      Hi Parleo,

      Thank you for the comments and your question. My apologies about the delay in the reply.

      To answer your question, Entrances do not have to be 100% on the navigation summary report (unless your landing page has a 100% bounce rate – or if visitors never return to your landing page). Essentially, the navigation summary report looks at Page Views. For example, if you have just one visitor to landing page A, the visitor moves to page B then back to Page A again. In the navigation summary report, you will see 50% visits from Entrances and 50% from page B.

      I hope this helps :)
      - Dennis

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  7. Scott Cole

    Very nice explanation and tips. I wonder if you can help me with my problem. When I look at the list of “Previous Pages” on the Navigation Summary, few have direct links to the page I’m analyzing. There’s no way to get “here” from “there” including no search box. Is this possible?

  8. Scott Cole

    Very nice explanation and tips. Best I’ve seen on the Web. I wonder if you can help me with my question. When I look at the Previous Pages on the Navigation Summary, none of them provide direct links to the page in question, nor do they offer a search box. How can this be? You can’t get “here” from “there.” Have you ever seen or heard of errors like this in GA? Thanks for any help you can provide.

    1. Dennis Graham Post author

      Hi Scott, thanks for the great question – I should add it to this post.

      If there are no links from “here” to “there”, but “here” shows up as the previous page there are a couple of explanations.

      1) Web Browser navigation (e.g. forward and back button). So for example, you were at Page A, then Page B and then Page C. There’s no link from Page C to Page A, but, you can hit the back button to go straight to Page A.
      So when Google Analytics looks at what your previous Page was, it’ll see it was Page C.

      2) Tabs. Lets say you had Page B open. You opened up Page C in a new tab. Page C is now the last page visited on your site. Then you go back to the first tab and go from Page B to Page A. Again, to Google Analytics – it looks like you went from Page C to Page A even though there’s no direct link.

      Hope that made sense – and thanks for the question!
      - Dennis

  9. Jamie Y

    This is very helpful! However, with the new Google Analytics, the URL path looks different when viewing the Navigation Summary and doesn’t have an #lts1234567890987 argument. Any thoughts on how to et it to show all next pages in the new Google Analytics?

    1. Dennis Graham Post author

      Hi Jamie,

      Apologies about the late response – I don’t know of a way to do this in the New Google Analytics. So the only thing I would recommend is to use the Old Google Analytics.

      But, if you know what page you’re looking for (in the New GA) – use the search box provided in the new Navigation Summary report.

      It just one of those things – for somethings the New GA is better – for others the Old GA. For example, if you want to see the number of goals completed today – Old GA is better… If you want to see Multi-channel goal attribution – you’ll need the New GA.


  10. Steen

    Hello Dennis,

    There is something in the Navigation summary that I don’t understand.
    When I look at a specific page under page content, GA says it has a bounce rate of 70%. When I then look at the navigation summary, the page has 6% entrances (84% previous) and 14% exits (86% next).
    I don’t understand why this page is then rated with 77% bounce rate – is this some kind of bug, or is there something I’m not considering.
    Another thing is, I also use etracker on the site, and here the page only has a bounce rate of 2%.

    Thanks for any reply – it may be out of the scope of this article, but you may have heard about a similar issue ??


    1. Dennis Graham Post author

      Hi Steen, (apologies about the belated response)

      Great question. The disparity between the percentages, comes from how things are calculated. E.g. How can something have a Bounce Rate of 70% and an exit rate of 14%.

      A Bounce Rate is calculated from the Entrances. For example, let’s say you had 10 Entrances to a page, and 7 of those people left without seeing another page (Bounced). That would give you a bounce rate of 70% (7/10).

      The Exit Rate is calculated as a percentage of Total Pageview. For example, let’s say that same page had 100 Pageviews, and from that page, visitors had left your website 14 times… That would result in an Exit Rate of 14% (14/100).

      Those 7 bounces are included in the Exit figure… and that’s how you can have a Bounce Rate of 70% and an Exit Rate of 14%.

      Regarding etracker… I had a look at their live demo – I couldn’t find the report for Bounces (I’ve never used etracker before), my best guess is that etracker calculate Bounce Rates as a percentage of total Pageviews. E.g. If you had 10 Entrances and 7 bounced – that’s a 70% Bounce Rate in Google Analytics. But, if that page had 350 Pageviews, those 7 bounces could be calculated as 2% in etracker.

      It’s common for different Analytics vendors to have different definitions/calculations for the same terms.

      I hope that helped,

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