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Under Behaviour, Behaviour Flow, I'm seeing results similar to this screenshot:

Screenshot

As you can see from the screenshot, a "landing page" is not considered the same thing as a starting page. Otherwise, all the traffice from a landing page would go to the equivalent starting page. Instead, it gets split.

I've seen similar questions asked elsewhere on the web, but I have yet to find a satisfactory answer.

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  • I have to admit not really understanding Googles thought process on this page. It is interesting, but not really useful to me. – closetnoc Sep 14 '16 at 0:35
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    This has been asked in the Google Product Help Forums: Start page vs. landing page but there is no clear answer that satisfies me there. – Stephen Ostermiller Sep 27 '16 at 14:52
  • Google appears to have pulled this report from its former location under "Behavior". You can now get to it from "User Flow" by then selecting "Landing Page" from the drop down menu that defaults to "Country". – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 30 '17 at 18:06
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  • Landing Page: The first page from the user's first session.
  • Starting Page: The first page from the user's current session.

I believe this explains all the questions about the report:

  • Landing page and starting page are not the same thing. It explains how it is possible for the traffic to get split.
  • Return users often come back into the home page. That is why many users move from a deep landing page (from their first session) to a starting page of Home (for their current session).
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I believe the landing page is the page they first arrived at on your website. The starting page is the page they were on when they started that session. A single visit can include more than one session, hence the difference. I have absolutely no evidence for this opinion. I see a number of other people probably smarter than I am think it is related to visitors using the site search function, however I have access to a large number of websites analytics and have found this issue on some sites that do not have a site search at all.

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Editing to shorten the answer some.

Ok, I showed my friend from Google this pic over the Thanksgiving Holiday and this is what he had to say.

To me it makes sense. So anyhow let's get to it.

You have a website. The website has 5 pages and the following are the names of the pages. Home, About, Services, Quote and Contact.

Of these 5 pages, what is considered to be the home page, the main page or the starting page?

I think we all can agree it is the page named "Home Page".

With that just keep in mind, that a Main page, a Home page and a Starting page are describing the exact same thing but using a different name.

There is one exception and this is what makes the term Starting Page different,

In short, a Starting Page is the actual Home Page, a secondary page or a set of pages now being considered a Home/Main Page, based on visitors behavior.


In the green column - The Starting Pages You have the number of user sessions for the Home Page and other pages that are viewed/used as a Home / Main Page. The most visited being the Home Page (root domain name) followed by the other pages named.

In the white column - The Landing Pages You have the user sessions and the pages they first entered the site no matter the source of entry.

So now that we know the Starting Page is the actual or conceptual Home Page and it can be one page or many pages let's view this sites data.

Due to users flow, it is deemed that the Home Page, Inventory W and D, Car, Specials are all considered a Home / Main Page and are now also Called Starting Pages.

Keep remembering Starting Pages, are just different names for my Home Pages because users treat them as such.

For this Car Lot, 36k visited the actual Home Page(A Starting Page) and 30k of them did so at entry Home Page = Starting Page and Landing Page.

Of the 5.3k that visited the Inventory D page(Named a Starting Page because it is used like a Home Page), 4.9k of them did so as their Landing Page. (reconfirming its being used like a Home Page, Landing Page / Starting Page.)

I think by this time it should be making sense and you can see how the numbers do add up when all things considered.

It's kind of weird. Anyhow that is what I learned and wanted to share it.

enter image description here

  • So a "starting page" is a page that is used as a home page by a visitor. What does that even mean? The home page of a website is the page at the root. I'm not sure how visitor usage could change that. What does it even mean that a visitor used /inventory/w-vehicles as if it were a home page? – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 30 '17 at 17:28
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Landing page means someone who visits your site from source (Google, Bing etc)

Start page is someone who searches using your sites search box, but you have to have this configuration set up for Google to start tracking this information.

  • That's incorrect, my site does not have a "site search box" and yet this difference manifests itself. Can I ask where did you get this information from? – Flimm Sep 27 '16 at 14:55
  • I had a feeling what it might be, but also did a little search - I found my answer here. en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Tracking-Goals-Ecommerce/… – Ian Lewis Sep 28 '16 at 12:00
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  • Start Page - The pages from which visitors searched your site.
  • Landing Page - The pages through which visitors entered your site.

These are two totally different things.

To use "Start Page" dimension you have to configure "Site search Tracking" in View settings. Then you can see Start Pages in Behavior > Site Search > Pages report.

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