If you’re a current webmaster or looking to get more active in your digital marketing efforts, data is going to be key! Data gives you the power to make insights of value, that you can make informed decisions from. Google Analytics is by far the most widely used tool to track user interaction on websites. But like any tool one must understand what it’s telling you, as well as, it’s pros and cons from a data collection standpoint with cookies, etc….
One of the BIGGEST problems with Google Analytics over the past few years is the rise of Gmail’s popularity (when a Gmail / or any Google account user is signed in, searches are done over a secure connection “hiding” the data from Google Analytics. See a great article here for more information.), and with that the increase in “(not provided)” data showing what organic keywords brought users to your site.
One of our clients has 645 of 834 (75%) searched keywords not provided!!!! This leaves a BIG hole in our data and what we can do with it, especially when dealing with sites that have lower traffic volume. There are a few work arounds to get better data, one is within Google Webmaster Tools and another is to set up internal site search tracking. We do both for all our internet marketing clients, and will focus on the quick and valuable internal site search set-up in this post.
Why Track Internal Site Search?
You may have missed how they got to your site, but internal site search can paint a much more valuable picture.
By viewing the site search report you can see what users are looking for from your site and / or what they are experiencing difficulty finding.
Highlights Possible Poor Site Structure
For instance say you sell service “x” and you feel it’s “super easy to find”, but lots of users are searching for it. Maybe you should review your sites architecture.
An easy way to do this is ask 5-10 people to look at your site, and answer some easy questions like what are our main services, what’s our address / phone number, etc… This is a low friction way to see if your site is easy to use for the end user, and in turn increase conversion via better information presentation and reduced frustration.
Generate Content Ideas / Holes In Offerings
Track what users are searching for i.e. Green Widgets, and you don’t offer them….maybe think about introducing them as there is an obvious need. If you’re more of an information business like Ag Coenxus, we see what people are searching for and may write a blog post, or even incorporate it into our pitch as it’s what the “average joe” is looking to hear in solving their need.
This is a great way to get some really early lead indicators with what your customers / potential customers are demanding.
How To Track Internal Site Search?
Tracking internal searches is really easy! All you need is Google Analytics and search functionality enabled on your site.
Just follow our easy steps below.
Step 1 – Admin Panel
Go to your Admin Panel (note you must be an administrator on the Google Analytics account in question).
Step 2 – View Settings
Click view settings and click on “Do Track Site Search”.
To quickly find your “query parameter” just run a quick search on your site. I did below for “LinkedIn Training” on the Ag Conexus website.
For our site (and many) it’s the letter “s”, so just put this in the Google Analytics settings. This will let Google know what URL’s to look out for….
Allow a few hours for the code / settings to populate.
Note: on low traffic sites it may take some time to get a good amount of searches. So be patient and / or consider moving your search box to a more prominent position to gather more information and make your site more useful for visitors.
Final Site Search Comments
Site search is a very underused tool for gathering great information on your site and its users. It only takes a few minutes to set up, being once and done!
Good luck with your new insights and let me know if you have any other data gathering tips and tricks below!