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Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

Site Search Part 2: Track Site Search

By Ryan Moxness
January 23rd, 2012

This is the second post in our site search series.  If you missed the first part, read it here.  It will help you get a good understanding of what kind of sites should implement site search and some reasons it might be worth your while.

Here, I introduce a step by step guide to set up site search in Google Analytics and what data to look at once it’s in place. After you get site search set up in your analytics account, you can start mining insights for from your data.  Before you start tracking your search box, you will have to install one on your site.

Installing Site Search Tracking:

This is very simple and virtually a 4 step process to gain valuable information from your visitors. If you cannot see the images, click on them to get a better look.

Step 1: Log In to Google Analytics

If you do not yet have Google Analytics, then you will need to create an account.

Step 2: Edit Profile

Once logged in to the account you wish to install tracking for, you will then click “Edit” next to the profile in question.

Once again you will then click “Edit” on the Profile Settings page.

Step 3: “Do Track Site Search”

On the “Profile Information” page click to select Do Track Site Search.

As soon as this is selected the Query Parameter form will show up.

This part can be a little bit difficult if you are not familiar with query parameters.

Step 5: Entering the Query Parameter

You will need to figure out what type of query parameter your website uses:

  1. Open your website.
  2. Search using your search bar to conduct a search. (Any phrase/keyword will do)
  3. Copy the URL of the search results page, and paste it in a text editor.
  4. When looking at the URL find the phrase you searched, it will look something like this:

In this particular search the query parameter is “q” everything else is irrelevant.

Enter “q” into the Site Search forum:

What Data Should I Look For?

Now GA is tracking your site search data!  Depending on the amount of traffic to your website, it might take as much as 2 weeks before you can draw any conclusions from the new data.

Now for the fun stuff. Gather insights!!!  You can start by asking yourself a series of questions like this:

Is my site search traffic converting better than my non-site search traffic?

How many people are using the site search box?

What keywords are people typing in the search box?

On what pages are people most commonly using site search?

Where is traffic coming from that uses site search?

One or all of the answers to these questions can highlight changes you can be making to your site to help improve your conversion rate. Stay tuned for site search part 3, which will give a real example of how site search data and some insight increased a client’s ROI.

What kind of insights has your site search data given you?  Do you know of a better site search platform than Google Site Search?  We love converting visitors based on site search data, and we are here if you want us to look at your data too.

Add Your Comments

Comments (31)

  1. @ Investir


  2. liked the post. Thanks to you for providing the link to the first part otherwise i would have missed that.

  3. thx for the additional information

  4. Google analytics is very important to follow the progress of your site. The additional information was excellent. Thanks for the post

  5. Great writing continue and very much helpful for me as well as newcomers.

  6. wow really amazing lol how could find all this :P soo hard work on seo and this search phase really greatfull to ya :D

  7. [...] [...]

  8. Understanding site search is essential to knowing your user base and their needs.

    Google Analytics keeps adding advanced ways to filter/display this search data, which is great!

  9. Google analytics is really the best tool that a site or blog owner should use. This powerful tool would be the best guide on driving organic traffic to a site. Thanks for sharing his one!

  10. Thanks! Useful step-by-step guide; wish something like this was available last year when I was figuring out how to do the same thing for one of my sites and wasted an entire hour on it…

  11. Google analytics is very important to follow the progress of your site. Thanks for shairng such a nice article.

  12. Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for posting valuable information. Google analytic helps to webmaster for progress report of website.

  13. The first time i went through this i didn’t have nicely outlined steps like this and their wasn’t much information out their. thanks for putting it together. why would anyone not want to track?

  14. Complete knowledge of Google Analytics is really very useful for tracking the performance of site in terms of visitors.

  15. Google Analytics is so much useful specially to websites owner.. it helps track and record all visitors organic or referrals.. – nice post

  16. I think that Google Analytics is also a very good tool. But at the same time there are many others which provide in depth details.

  17. Thanks. This is a cool little trick, but I’m unaware how to find my query parameters. It doesn’t show up like Google’s :(

  18. Site search is a very important tool for both readers and blog author.

    It allows readers to site anything in the site fast and the same time it allow blog authors to track which topic his/her audience are looking for.

  19. Hi, I have joomla and virtuemart (shopping cart) installed on my site. Both joomla and virtuemart have their own search boxes already on my site. Do you suggest that I turn these off and use the google search option? Wont this reduce the functionality of my shopping cart search? Do I need a programmer to figure this one out for me? thanks

  20. Search Analytics can be a great way to track where your traffic is coming from in order to use these data to improve your website’s SEO. Nice article.

  21. @Bruce

    Can you track site search with Joomla and Virtuemart?
    If so, I am sure the site search you already have installed works great for your site. No need to change.

  22. Thank you for writing this great idea! Google analytics is a vital tool to track down the visits of your site. This is really helpful to firs-timers :)

  23. If only Google webmasters tool could tie in with these tracking ideas too. Just so many different tools out there you have to integrate!

  24. Thanks Ryan – this has been on our ‘to do’ list for a while… reminded be to push our web guys to get this done – much appeciated.

  25. Thanks for the 1-2-3 on implementation Ryan. Easy to step through the process

  26. I’d like to read more information on the Google verification tools. Maybe a case study of how someone used them. Analytics is fine and good but its so common and the data is all there. It can be used a million different ways and, in my opinion, is pretty simple…

  27. I learn something everyday. I will use these techniques to improve my own site search conversions.

  28. Google analytics is the very finest instrument web site or weblog proprietor ought to use. This highly effective software can be the most effective information on driving natural visitors to a web site.

  29. I need to do more to improve the seo of my site. Thanks for the tips and the comments are useful

  30. What kind of SEO tracking and reporting systems do you endorse? I’ve looked at SEOMoz and am checking out SEO Profiler now.

  31. Good article and it is true that it is essential to use Google Analytics to really understand what keywords and aspects of your site are performing and what are not.

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Ryan is a GA certified analyst at Future Now with special training in SEO and CPC campaigns.

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