Analytics Navigation Summary – The Report You Never Knew You Had

Analytics Navigation Summary – The Report You Never Knew You Had

Google Analytics has so many tools packed in to one interface that it’s easy to miss several of its features. For example, I used Analytics for years before finding the Navigation Summary in the Pages Report.

Sure, you can get a quick overview of whether you’re getting more or less viewers without digging in to find the details of your web traffic, but truly optimizing the experience for your visitors requires a more complete understanding of how people are using your website. Are they finding what they’re looking for? Are they completing the actions you want them to take?

Earlier this week, we look at different types of visitor flow to see the whole picture. The Navigation Summary gives us a zoomed-in view on a single page at a time.

The Navigation Summary in Action

To find the Navigation Sumamry, you’ll first need to look on the left side of the screen to find the “Content” section.

  1. Click on “Content” to expand the menu
  2. Click on “Site Content” to expand yet another dropdown menu
  3. Click on “All Pages”
  4. On the right side of the screen, look for the “Navigation Summary” tab above your chart (see screenshot below)

Navigation Summary in Google Analytics

How could we have ever missed that report, right? It’s so easy to find.

Like a lot of little features inside Google Analytics (GA), the tab reports becomes quite useful – after you know how to easily get to them. Again, if you don’t want to have to remember all those steps each time, just create a Shortcut.

In the screenshot above, I’m examining traffic to and from the homepage (as indicated by the bottom arrow on the right). From the little dropdown, you can easily select any page on your site to see which pages visitors viewed before arriving at the page and which pages they saw after the selected page.

The little graph there in the center of the above screenshot refers to the pageviews of your selected page. If you’re new to GA, this is a great way to examine your most popular posts or the page you need visitors to view the most. This drilled-down view can let you know exactly how those pages are performing.

The Meat of the Report

Scrolling down, you’ll find the details of the report. This is the information that you cannot easily find in any of the other GA reports and why it’s worth your time to occasionally visit this screen.

Page path in Navigation Summary

In the screenshot, you’ll see four gray boxes: Entrances and Previous Pages on one side and Exits and Next Pages on the other. As the little illustration reveals, the left side is the way that visitors arrived at your desired page, and the right side is how they left.

The most important stats to grab out of this section are the percentages. Are visitors arriving from outside of your site (e.g. from another site, from a search engine)? Then they’ll be a part of the “Entrances” category. If they’ve arrived from another page on your website, then they’ll be grouped in the “Previous Pages” category.

A similar path works for the right side, as well. “Exits” are people who left the site entirely, and “Next Pages” are the people who visited other pages on your site.

Below those gray boxes, you can get more details to see exactly which pages are leading visitors to your desired page and which pages visitors are viewing after going to your desired page. In the case of the homepage (like I’ve selected here), lots of entries in the “Next Page Path” is a good thing. If I was tracking a landing page where I meant to get a visitor to sign up for a newsletter or make a purchase, I wouldn’t want to see a lot of other pages on that side. I would just want to see the “thank you” page.

One last tidbit… you’ll notice in the screenshot above that I’ve included an arrow to a page with the URL “/s?=character-driven”. This is the way that my blog ( tracks onsite searches. Analytics has a much better way to track search terms from site search, but I wanted you to get a chance to see the URLs “in the wild.”

What about You?

Have you ever used the Navigation Summary before? Is it something that you think would be helpful for your writing or marketing process?

  • IoD New Zealand

    Very helpful, thank you!

  • Erik Dekker

    thank you for your thorough explanation.

    One question though. Can you tell me the difference between next page path and second page path. Both seem to be showing the same thing. But when I use next page path as a second dimension I only get one record with the same value as the page itself. When I use second page path it shows a lot of next pages, but they differ a lot from the results in the next page path you describe in this article.

    Hope you can help me. I cannot find the answer on Google…

    Kind regards,

    • michaelwroberts

      Hi Erik, I think the difference is how many “first pages” you get to include in the report. The Navigation Summary report centers around one page — all the pages that came before it on side and all the pages that came after it on the other.

      The second page path report shows you a full list of pages that were viewed along with the most commonly viewed page after that first page. This is a a much more comprehensive report across all of your content.

      As a second dimension, the next page path is not all that useful. You’re better off with the second page path. If you want to know the entire story about one piece of content, then you’ll want to refer to the Navigation Summary.

      • Erik Dekker

        thnx for explaining