Avinash says on his blog, “For the most part you should not care about this metric [top exit pages], for most websites it tends to be a hyped up metric that tells you little while, on paper, claiming to tell you a lot.” Most of the commentary on his blog seems to agree with him.
C’mon folks. Methinks when you are as skilled as Avinash is, or you have been analyzing the same web site for a long time using advanced tools, sure, the metric can be next to useless. I don’t even look at the “Overview” stats for any of my sites anymore, because I have Custom Reports that tell me what I really want to know. I advise clients to take the same approach.
But, when you sit down to analyze a site you have never analyzed before, there is nothing that can orient you like first looking at Top Entry and Top Exit pages. For me, it creates a visual map of the basic behavior on a new site and causes me to start asking the questions that will be the subject of further study. And for a person that is brand new to web analytics, simply seeing Top Entry and Top Exit stats for the first time has a huge impact, it gets them to the “First Why?”, if you know what I mean. It’s a very simple model that is easy to understand.
Perhaps interacting with the students in the UBC / WAA web analytics courses has made me more sensitive to this issue, but I think we might better qualify statements like this, for example, “For the most part, advanced users should not care about this metric…” because there are a lot of folks “listening” out there who might lack enough context to correctly parse a statement like this.