Google Analytics Site Search: Working with the Data
Ian Lurie Nov 5 2007
Yesterday I explained how to set up Google Analytics new site search feature in five steps.
For that little bit of work, the site search reports provide lots of great data. Here are some of highlights.
After you’ve set up site search, you’ll find a new item under ‘Content’ – ‘Site Search’:
That displays the site search overview page, which includes this trending summary. You should pay particular attention to the summary, because it’ll show you if something’s going wrong (or right) that’s causing folks to use your search tool less (or more):
Visits with Search shows you the total number of visits to your site – not visitors, but visits – when someone used your onsite search tool.
Total Unique Searches is just what it sounds like: The number of actual searches run on your site.
Results Pageviews/Search is the number of pages of search results that your visitors viewed after conducting a search. So, if I do a search and then view 10 pages of search results, that’s 10 results pageviews.
Search Exits are the percentage of folks who leave your site after performing a search. Ouch.
Search Refinements show searches performed immediately following another search. So, if I search for ‘internet marketing’ and then search for ‘internet marketing strategy’ right after that, that’s a refinement.
Time after Search is the amount of time visitors spend on your site after they perform a search. That’s another ouch, in my case.
Search Depth is the number of pages viewed after a search. The third ouch.
My favorite report, though, is the search terms list. On the left, under ‘site search’, click ‘search terms’. You’ll see something like this:
Neat! Now I can see what terms folks typed into my onsite search tool!
But you can drill deeper than that.
Use the Site Search Start Pages report to see which pages prompted visitors to perform a search. This report’s great if you want to see what topics generate more interest. Then you can click on a specific start page to see searches performed by visitors from that page.
That’s a great insight: You not only know what page your visitor was looking at when they searched – you also know what they wanted to find next. With that, you can construct the ‘scent trails’ you need to lead visitors from their first pageview to a conversion.
Destination Pages shows you where folks ended up after viewing the search results. This can help you figure out if they found what they wanted. If someone exited the site after a search, chances are they left frustrated.
The site search report shows what visitors try to find after they arrive on your web site. It also shows you how they respond to the results of their search. With that, you can:
- Adjust your search tool to show alternate searches (think of the â€œdid you mean [search term here]â€ box you can find on Google.
- Feature content for which visitors most often search.
- Add new content to fill in gaps revealed by visitor searches.
Set up site search – trust me, you won’t regret it.
If you have any questions about it, post ’em here as a comment.
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More