Tracking Site Search for Google Analytics

After recently reading a wonderful book called Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with your customers by Louis Rosenfeld, my colleagues and I began thinking about how we could help people utilize Google analytics more effectively to track activity of their online store.

Setting Up Basic Site Search Tracking

One very important method is by tracking site search. Google analytics has a very straightforward way of doing this. I will refer to the official Google instructions here, but there is also a very good, and more visual explanation here. Once you have enabled site search, you’ll be able to evaluate

  1. How much are visitors searching vs. browsing
  2. What are visitors searching for once they reach your site
  3. How many times are visitors doing multiple searches (which may suggest a need for better faceted search)?
  4. How well they are visitors converting via site search vs. browse

Advanced Search Tracking

If you already have faceted search, or allow your visitors to click on a category to refine their search in any way, you can enable category refinements as well. Again, the official Google Instructions are here (#9 and #10). The key is to check “yes” for “Do you use categories for site search” then enter the indicator that comes up when you search your site.

The advantage of tracking refinements is that you’ll gain information about the most popular attributes of your products. This may be instructive in terms of:

  1. How to display the facets in an order that makes sense to the customer
  2. Which products to merchandize an in which ways
  3. Which products to carry

There are many things you can look at once you are tracking site search. Avihash Kaushik has an excellent breakdown of what you can do with Google Analytics. Studies pretty consistently show conversion rate of search to be 2-3 times the rate of browse. It’s an important part of your business so you may as well understand what’s going on with those shoppers.

More resources on using internal site search:


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