3 reasons you need to track internal site search

How many times have you used a website’s site search functionality? I, for one, don’t like to waste time trying to navigate throughout a website attempting to find what I am searching for; it’s so much faster to simply type my query into the site search box (if available). Now, pause a moment and really think about how many people engage in this behavior on a daily basis, including yourself.

What could you do to improve your website, your marketing and advertising, and even your business, if you knew what your site users were searching?

The Importance of Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics

1. Website Usability

Analysis of your website’s usability and navigation is probably the primary reason why you need to track internal site search. Tracking your site’s search functionality can help answer the following questions:

  • Are site visitors using my site’s navigation or search more?
  • Is my content fulfilling site visitors’ searches or does more content need to be created?
  • How accurate is my site search? Are people finding what they are looking for on the first search or do they constantly need to refine their search further?

Use your website with the mindset of a customer

Websites are often viewed mostly in terms of how nice it looks, or how well it meets the demands of the CEO or other top-level decision makers.

Viewing your website as a potential customer can open up your eyes to the difficulties associated with finding various products or simply navigating through your site.

Conduct focus groups

Sometimes it’s hard to put your “customer” hat on, so ask others to click around your site and listen to their feedback. Since, unless you’re a Fortune 500 company, you likely don’t have the resources to spend millions on focus groups, try the following groups:

  • Friends. Make sure they are truly aware of what you are trying to accomplish and ensure you won’t be hurt by anything they say.
  • Employees. They know what you sell and are intimate with the information — but not necessarily the web content — surrounding your products or services.
  • Past Customers. You already have their contact information so reach out and ask them about their experiences on your website. In order to provide some incentive for their feedback, offer some sort of promotion, such as free shipping or 25% off on their next purchase. Not only will you receive informative feedback, you’ll build loyalty by demonstrating you truly care about them and their customer experience.

Test, test, and retest

Take the information and feedback collected, and apply those concepts. Wait for 30 to 90 says before making any further changes. Then, measure and analyze the impact not only on site search but on overall website and conversion performance. Compare past and present performance, and determine what areas still need improvement. 

2. Keyword and Content Opportunities

Keywords

There are many facets of keyword research when setting up and optimizing your website and digital advertising. The ultimate objective, as we all know, is to best match search query to website content, and search query to paid keyword to landing page/content; however, sometimes these methods of keyword research just aren’t enough, and opportunities are missed.

Site search keyword analysis yields something traditional pre-click methods don’t: post-click keyword research.

Take the following as an example of how site search can play an integral role in identifying highly relevant and specific keywords with low competition and costs:

Your initial keyword research reveals a tremendous amount of search volume for your brand, Groller Collectibles, but little to no volume on product-specific keywords. As a result, your current PPC keywords include, among others, variations on your brand name. These branded keywords are producing excellent click and click-through-rate statistics, but you also use resellers as part of your overall business strategy so competition on your brand name producers higher click costs than if you were the lone advertiser on those keywords. The end result: PPC is producing an excellent ROI, but click costs are cutting into your margin because of competition.

As part of your PPC optimization activities, you analyze post-click keywords from your site search statistics as shown below.

Although users are entering your website after searching “Groller Collectibles,” they are actively searching for specific products via your site search functionality. Since users are entering on your brand, they obviously know you sell eagles, cats, and other collectibles. Although previous keyword research yielded little to no search volume on these phrases (e.g., “groller collectible eagle”), this post-click data suggests otherwise.

Take this analysis and put it into effect within your PPC accounts. Begin testing longer-tailed branded phrases centered on your specific products, such as “groller collectible eagles” and “groller collectible cats.” You’ll likely find that, in addition to serving more relevant ads and driving traffic to specific product pages, you’ll see less keyword competition, higher quality scores and ad rankings, and lower costs per click (CPCs).

The end result: a higher ROI, increased margin, and improved click-through rates and conversion rates.

Content

Using the same brand example, your home page, the current landing page of your branded keywords, is performing great — with very low bounce rates. On the other hand, your product-specific pages are somewhat lagging in terms of content or haven’t been created at all (maybe you’re selling some products solely offline).

Although branded phrases are driving a significant portion of traffic and sales, site search analysis reveals a significant amount of users looking for “eagles” and “cats” on your website. After reviewing these statistics, you realize the content surrounding eagle products is minimal at best, while there are no pages specifically dedicated to cat products.

Imagine the impact it would have on your PPC campaigns, website performance and overall business if you created custom content related to these specific products.

3. Product Expansion

Another significant way site search can benefit your business is in the information you can glean from customers and site users about potential new, profitable products or services.

For example:

You currently only sell blue widgets, and by analyzing your site search statistics you discover that more than 50% of searches are centered around red widgets — even though you don’t sell them. These users have found your website, so why not capitalize on this momentum by offering some red widgets for at least a short time to test their performance? By only offering these new products in limited quantities, yet competitive prices, you can effectively test their potential with little to no changes besides site content.

Site Search Tracking Setup

Convinced? Thought so. Follow Google’s step-by-step process for setting up internal site search tracking.

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