on May 3, 2022 (last modified on April 26, 2022) • 13 minute read
Have you ever wondered what your audience is actually searching for on your site?
I’m not talking about Google searches (which you could track in Google Analytics), but your own website.
In this article, we are going to show you how to set up site search tracking using Google Analytics. Practically anything you offer online should come with a search function that allows visitors to find exactly the item they’re looking for – and that means creating the data you need to track search functionality.
Let’s dive in, as we learn more about the following GA reporting features:
Site search reports in Google Analytics are a great way to understand how people discover content on your website and what they’re looking for when they can’t find it. This is particularly relevant if you have a big, complex website that requires a good internal search solution to help users find what they need.
Related: The 22 Most Useful Google Analytics Reports in 2022
Site search is a way for users to search your site’s content using keywords. It’s like the Google search bar — but it’s built into your website. Site search can look something like this:
Tapping into this data can provide some great insights into how you can improve the value of your website to visitors. For example, if a lot of people are entering “how to start YouTube channel” into site search, it may be a good idea to add a blog post that explains the basics of YouTube channel development.
If you use Google Analytics site search tracking you’ll get plenty of valuable insights, all gathered directly from your visitors. Some of them are:
Site search tracking is a critical component of your web analytics reporting. It can help you identify gaps in the content on your site and increase conversions by answering what visitors are searching for most often, but can’t find.
A search query is an exact keyword combination (search intent) that a user types into a search engine:
A query string is a URL suffix that comes after the ‘?’ character:
In this example, the query string is: ‘s=the+president+of+united+states‘
The key is ‘s‘ and the value is ‘the+president+of+united+states‘.
The key can either represent the search query parameter or the search category parameter:
The suffix you get to the search URL will depend on whether your site uses a search query parameter or search category parameter. There is also a chance that your internal site search doesn’t use either of these two:
You can dig into this further by talking with your webmaster, web administrator, or developer.
If you decide to use internal search engines on your website, you’ll probably choose between GET or POST methods. They are “the paths” that send the information between the user and web server.
GET method sends information directly from users to your web server through URL. This is the reason why the search term (query/category) appears in the search page URL. It’s a good method for internal site search unless the users are not sending sensitive data (mail, username, password, etc) along with the search term.
Most search engines use GET with query parameters.
Features of GET method:
On the other side GET can leave out steps that help to secure resources, which means that GET is a less secure method.
If your site search engine uses POST method, the search term is sent from users to the web server including the body of the HTTP request instead via URL. As a result, the search term doesn’t appear in the search page URL. POST method is mostly used for sensitive data traffic or analytics since it offers much more control over users’ requests. In some cases, POST may require additional authentication before proceeding with the request.
Features of POST method:
One of the biggest advantages of POST unlike GET is that its requests have no restrictions regarding the size of data that you can provide to user search intent. This means, for example, if a user’s queries are too long with a lot of parameters, a better option to use would be POST.
After signing in to your Google Analytics account, follow these steps to configure site search reports:
That’s it. You’re ready to roll over your user’s search queries!
Like most marketers, you’re probably interested in how much traffic comes to your website and how much of that traffic converts into new leads and customers. But digital marketers want to know more, right? Where is that traffic coming from, and how much of it comes from specific channels, like organic search, social media, and referrers? Which social media and referral sites? Now you can do that deeper dive from one dashboard connected to your Google Analytics account, including key metrics like:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring and analyzing your website traffic and its sources, social media networks and referral sites and pages. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics accounts with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
There are a few different report types under the ‘Site Search‘ section in Google Analytics, so let’s go over each one and explain how to use them.
Google Analytics lets you view data aggregated or segmented by individual user properties. This makes it possible to see overall trends across all users or dive deeper and look at segments based on specific criteria. For example, the segment drop-down menu includes the option “Search Terms” which allows you to view and analyze data for specific keywords entered by users into your site search box. In the Overview report, you can also find out more about search sessions, total unique searches, time after search, and more.
It’s quite a direct one – Shows the average usage of your site segmented to important metrics.
Paying attention to this report is especially important for any eCommerce website, but also for all other websites that need visitors to find their products and services through a search function (like event websites). A good goal for your site is that more than half of your sessions include some kind of search activity, whether it’s coming from a structured search form or from keywords within the page content. If your site has lots of content, you may have more success with the latter.
The default segment is ‘Sessions’ with site search, which shows you how much traffic came to your site through a search engine. You can also segment by New vs returning visitors or Engaged vs other visitors to see how they used the search function.
While Google Analytics provides a wealth of information, one of the most overlooked reports is the Search Terms Report. This report shows you the search terms your users are entering into the search box on your website, which can be incredibly useful in both formulating and refining your website’s content. Moreover, it can be extremely useful to identify opportunity areas for paid search campaigns or SEO efforts. For example, you can find out if visitors are searching for something like these “red sneakers with white laces” or “blue t-shirt”.
The pages report reveals from which pages visitors used the most searches. Pages reports can be extremely useful if you want to reorganize the content of your pages in order to provide a better user experience. If you notice any terms that are frequently searched for, you can maybe highlight them on a specific page.
As you have seen so far site search tracking feature in GA is a very powerful feature in Google Analytics. This tool can help you learn a lot about your website visitors, like what they are looking for and how often they need it. We already covered some ways you can use site search tracking to improve your content strategy (site search usage and frequently used search terms reports) but the magic of Google Analytics doesn’t stop here.
So, what can you learn more from Site Search Reports?
Then you’ll find out more about: The search phrases that generated the highest revenue and the phrases that produced zero/low revenue.
Optimizing Google Analytics reporting is not easy.
What’s more, it takes a lot of data-driven trial and error to get things right. Thankfully, Databox allows you to take a deep dive into your Google Analytics reports without having to rely on lengthy spreadsheets or a sea of confusing graphs. In other words, if you’re striving to better understand your website performance through the usage of tools like GA, you now have a specific tool to get you there much faster than before.
From visualizing your data in one place and combining it with different sources, to making customizable reports that can be easily shared with your team, clients, and managers, Databox has everything you need for streamlined marketing reporting.
Sign up for free today and see for yourself why we have thousands of satisfied users.
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