Understanding entry and exit pages
Entry and exit pages are the first and last pages that a user sees of your web site. It’s important to
understand that an entry page isn’t necessarily the home page on your web site. It can be any other
page where a user lands, either by clicking through search engine results, by clicking a link from
another web site or a piece of marketing material, or by bookmarking or typing directly into the
address bar of a browser.
Entry pages are important in SEO, because they are the first page users see as they come onto the
web site. The typical web site is actually several small connected sites. Your company web site might
contain hubs, or central points, for several different topics. Say you’re a pet store. Then you’ll have
hubs within your sites for dogs, cats, birds, fish, and maybe exotic animals. Each hub will have a
main page — which will likely be your entry page for that section — and several additional pages
leading from that central page to other pages containing relevant content, products, or information
about specific topics.
Understanding which of your pages are likely entry pages helps you to optimize those pages for
search engine crawlers. Using the pet-store example, if your home page and all the hub pages are
properly SEO’ed, you potentially could be ranked at or near the top of five different sets of search
results. When you add additional entry pages deeper in your web site structure (that is, a dog-
training section to the hub for dogs), you’ve increased the number of times you can potentially
end up at the top of search engine rankings.
Because entry pages are important in the structure of your web site, you want to monitor those pages
using a web-site analytics program to ensure they are working the way you expect them to work. A
good analytics program, like Google Analytics, will show you your top entry and exit pages.
Exit pages are those from which users leave your site, either by clicking through an exiting link,
selecting a bookmark, or typing a different web address into their browser address bar. But why
are exit pages important? They have two purposes; the first is to drive users from their entry
pages to a desired exit page. This is called the path that users travel through your site. A typical
path might look something like this:
In this example,
is the entry page and
is the exit page. By looking at this navigational
path, you can tell how users travel through your page and where they fall off the page. But there’s an
added benefit to understanding the navigational path of your users. When you know how users
travel through your site, you can leave what’s called a bread-crumb trail for them. That’s a naviga-
tional indicator on the web site that allows them to quickly see where they are on your site, as shown
in Figure 3-6. This is the navigation path shown on the Wal-Mart web site. You can quickly see
where in the navigational structure of the site you’re located.
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