Setting up your Google Analytics Site Search Tracking

It always surprises me how few businesses are using Google Analytics Site Search Tracking. Once set up it allows you to analyse what people are typing into the search bar on your website, and the impact that has on their trip through your website.

The crazy thing about the lack of use of this is that it is probably the easiest ‘extras’ in Google Analytics to get working.

First go to your website and do a search. What does the URL look like on the results page?

Site search doesn't work If it looks like this – ie the search term you looked for isn’t in the URL – game over. You can’t use Google Analytics Site Search. Time to go and talk to your web designers…

site search ecmpIf URL looks like this then we’re in business, that means you can see:

  • the search term you used (in the image “analytics”)
  • after an equals sign ‘=’

Write down / copy the bit before the ‘=’ (this is called the ‘parameter’). In the example it’s “s” – the letter S for Search.

Now login to your analytics

Analytics Settings Site SearchGo to Admin in the top nav, then go to “View settings”

(yes annoyingly this means you do have to set site search tracking up for every View you use – if you’re using more than one)

Scroll down the page and you’ll see this:

site search settings

All you need to do is:

  • turn it on
  • add the parameter we copied earlier

In the example this all completed.

Then click Save and you are done

Yes, that is it. So sit back and wait for the results to pile up (it only tracks from when you set it up), then in a month’s time go to the report and ask the 2 questions below, you’ll find the report here:

where to find the site search report

These are the first 2 questions you need should ask your Site Search Tracking once you have it set up – the 2 quick wins:

Is the site delivering what customers are searching for?

Now we have the tracking in place we can see exactly what search terms the customers are using on the website – so take the top 3-5 terms and search for them yourself.

What comes up? Is it what should come up? This is what our customers are looking for on our site so hopefully it’s appearing! And if it is not – what do you need to change, usually this will be:

  • They’re searching for things we don’t sell – should we start selling them?
  • They’re searching for things we don’t sell – we need to make sure they understand who we are
  • They’re searching for our products, but they don’t come up in the search results – in which case we need to improve our site search algorithm.

Are there keywords here that aren’t in our Search marketing? (be that SEO or PPC)

The Site Search results show you what customers think your products are called – so are there phrases and descriptions they are using that you’re not taking into account in your marketing?

Do you always refer to “denim”, but the customer’s lingo is “jeans”?

Make the changes – then come back again next month and have another look….