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My Blogger Friends
It’s quite amazing when you begin looking at internal site search.
Recently I started investigating the capabilities of google analytics’ site search and it really has a easy to set up approach with alot of useful metrics that you can define against it.
As long your website uses a url parameter before your internal site search keywords and additionally url parameters in the url to define the categories of internal site search, you can track your site search.
For example, the url parameters of a website might be www.companywebsite.com/searchpage?
where search alias defines the category and field keywords defines the words that were typed into the search box.
You click on your profile, choose Do track site search, add your url parameter that comes up with the keywords that people type into the search box and then the url parameters that define the category on your website, that could be a product type (eg DVD) or a channel (eg rental) or whatever categories apply to your particular website.
Then within a few hours you can begin to what percentage of your visitors use site search, how long they spent looking at the site after a search, what percentage do more that one search (% search refinements), what categories they searched for the most, how did visitor behaviour differ from those that didn’t search.
In essence, there are many ways of really seeing how people are using site search on your site, and this can all be set up in a matter of minutes.
The charming Brett Crosby from google analytics, with some fanfare, announced several new google analytics features at emetrics last week in Washington – which you will have heard about by now, being ability to report on internal site search, ajax and event tracking, outbound link tracking and new Urchin software fixed price, all of which will be launched in the next few weeks. But here I have outlined a guide to how to use and getting the most out of Site Search.
Being able to track site search is a great step forward. Internal search refers to the keywords that people use while exploring your site (not the keywords they use on the search engines such as Google). For many websites, in particular holidays, recruitment, publishing and large retailers, internal search can be the most important and used feature on the website and can account for 50% of all pageviews on the site. So this is pretty amazing stuff that a “free” analytics solution is letting us do this – I’m really excited.
How do you use Google Analytics internal search:
1. Switch on ”Site search” on your Google Analytics profile(s)
2. You can find Site search in the Content section of Google Analytics reporting interface
3. Site Search reports show you the keywords that people use and the pages from which people begin and end their searches.
4. You can also filter search on your site against site usage, conversion rates, and e-commerce activity.
MY GUIDE TO GETTING THE MOST OF SITE SEARCH
1. What do people search for and do any keywords stand out?
2. What searches results in failed searches and what proportion are failed searches?
3. Let’s do some segmenting and why it is so fundamentally important
1. Here is how to get your long tail of internal search keywords:
First, create a report of all the internal search keywords and unique visits for a 2 month (dependent on site) period and upload to excel. Grab all the keywords and visits into smoothed line chart with data points (so that you can easily see the keywords that stand out). Then try making a list of the keywords that stand out. These are words that need to be looked at carefully as they will be benefit from being presented on the site in an easy to find way so that your visitors do not always need to search for them.
2. Which searches result in failed searches
A failed search is when a visitor doesn’t find what they are looking for. For example, keyword searches on products or services that you do not offer would be a failed search as would a time sensitive product or service that is not available within the results of the keyword search made. For example, visitors that click on the back button after making a search would be classified as failed/frustrated searchers. To reduce failed searches make sure the site reflects at the minimum easy to find information on the more significant failed search keywords (this is just a quick fix and not the solution if only information is presented but is a needed first step until a good solution is found).
Then look at the percentage of all visitors that have a failed search. In addition, you can create a visitor segment where the search results page is also the exit page and compare this against all failed searches to see how many “failed search” visitors, leave the site immediately.
3. Then we segment, to confirm our suspicions and insights
Assuming we can label visitors segments with specific keyword searches, we begin to drill-down further. If on a recruitment agency site, a noticable search is for “web analyst”, we can see which were the most popular pages they visited before searching. From this, we could learn that they visited the “marketing jobs” page and the “Web jobs” page and as a result of not being to find what they were looking for, searched for the term “web analyst” and subsequently left the site. Therefore, it would appear that both of these jobs page would benefit from having information about web analyst jobs on them (until the recruitment site started posting web analyst jobs that is).
We can segment against new versus returning visitors, time spent on site, by navigation path etc. For example, we can see how these visitors came to the site in the first place by looking at search engine keywords. If there is a noticable percentage of visitors who arrived at the site after having searched for “analyst job” or “web analyst job” on search engines, then it is clear that the hopes and desires of visitors coming in from the search engines is not being met by the site – as well as a PPC (pay per click) overspend on keywords that are resulting in a high number of failed searches and exits from the site. The key is to reflect on the site what visitors are looking for, in a holistic and thorough way.
Google Analytics “Site Search” will not be offering the same level of functionality as the big paid for boys in analytics solution. But amazing that, internal site search will now be offered because it is such an important part of so many websites and not being able to track it with GA was a waste. So excited, but will wait and see once it performs when actually does launch.
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