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Using analytics to track in site search

Does your website have an internal search facility that allows visitors to easily get to what they’re looking for?

If so, there may be opportunity to refine how it works, which will enable you to get much better insights into those visitors who use that search function.

Here’s an example of a website that’s ‘doing it right’ –

Within that website you’ll see the search box within the main navigation bar area.  This is important for clear visibility, but more important than that is how the website works behind the scenes to give insights into those who used the search function.

Doing internal site search right – part 1

When you search within that website, the search results page tells you how many search results there were, plus provides links to those pages.  An example of this is below:


Doing internal site search right – part 2

The url of the search result shows the keyword phrase that was searched for, which can then be used with analytics (and particularly well within A1WebStats) to filter on certain keyword phrases that people searched for.   Here’s an example of the url containing the search phrase of ‘treadguard’:

Doing internal site search right – part 3

The meta title of the search result changes to include both the keyword phrase and also the number of search results.

Showing the number of search results is particularly relevant because you can use analytics (see further down) to filter by searches that had no or low search results, in order to identify weaknesses.  If significant numbers of people are searching on particular keyword phrases but no results are being presented, then it implies a missed opportunity.


How the A1WebStats system helps to gain more from in site search results

Within A1WebStats you can filter ‘Visited Pages’ by those that included ‘search’ within the url.   An example of this is below:


If you wanted to, you could pick one of those search phrases and then dig deeper into how each visitor navigated through the website both before and after they used the in-site search.

What you can also do is export those search results to Excel for deeper filtering and analysis.   The example below shows the meta title column edited so that only the search phrase plus number of results are showing, along with the number of visitors who used that keyword phrase in the search box within the website …


Taking this one step further you can filter the Excel so that it shows only phrases that contain a certain keyword.  For example, the screenshot below shows the number of people who used search phrases that contained the word ‘tape’:


What the screenshot above also unveils are people who used search phrases that resulted in zero results.  This can help to focus attention on missed opportunities within the website content.   However, if the website infrastructure didn’t record information such as how many search results were provided, then such useful information wouldn’t be available to the website owner.


Action list

If you have a website search function and want to gain the most useful information about people who use that search function, then here’s a brief list of actions to check/implement:

  1. When a search is made, the url (and ideally meta title too) of the results page should ideally contain the keyword phrase plus the number of search results presented to the visitor.
  2. Once a month you should use analytics (A1WebStats makes it easy) to extract all visitors who used your in site search function.
  3. Take that extracted data and filter it within Excel to identify zero results searches plus other search phrases that surprise you.
  4. Take action based on your search results data.


Need some help?

If your website ticks the box of point 1 above, and you’d like our help to focus on how to extract and interpret your ‘in site search’ data, then please do let us know – we’ll be happy to help.