If you have a search feature on your site—and chances are you do—you might unlock a wealth of information by tracking what visitors are searching for and what happens after they search for it. In fact, when it comes to understanding your visitors, it doesn’t get much better than having them telling you exactly what they are looking for.
Activating site search tracking is something you should do as soon as you set up Google Analytics. You can set it up by following these simple steps and, in most cases, you won’t even need the help of a web developer.
Once activated, several data points about on-site searches will be available in the site search report. Most importantly, you will be able to see data about the volume of search activity (number of searches, percentage of visits using search, etc.), search behavior metrics (time spent on the site after each search, number of pages visitors viewed after getting search results) and the full list of terms that have been searched.
In short, you will know how many visitors are performing on-site searches, what they are searching for and what they do after searching for specific information. You can then use this data to answer critical questions that will inform your content development, website design and overall strategy.
Here are three easy ways to put your site search data to work.
Do you have the content your visitors are looking for on your website?
In the site search report, find the search terms section, then look at the percentage of exits. This is the percentage of visitors who immediately left the site after searching for a particular term. If the percentage of exits is high for terms that are relevant to your business, do a quick site audit to make sure you have relevant content that can be used as a search result for those terms.
Should you make content easier to find it?
If there are a lot of unique searches for a specific term—or a set of related terms—you might consider featuring content related to those terms more prominently, making it readily available for visitors. No matter how specific you might think the topic of an article or post is, no matter how unimportant you might deem that piece of information, the rationale is: if a lot of people are looking for it and it is relevant to your business, you can improve their experience by making it easier to find. If you don’t want to feature specific content or a content category in a navigational menu or directly on a page, at least make sure it will show up in your internal search results for all related term queries.
Should you retarget customers?
Let’s assume you are about to launch a new product. Word is out and people start turning to your site to find out more information. You don’t have dedicated content about that product yet, therefore visitors do not find what they are looking for and leave the site. But now that you know visitors have expressed a clear interest in the product, you can create a re-marketing audience using site search for terms related to the new product. As the launch date gets closer and you have updated content, retarget those customers with display ads promoting the product.