Google analytics is an essential tool if you want to gather key data about your site. To most of us the important data that we need to know about is the amount of visitors we receive, the keywords they used, the page views and bounce rate. All of this data is neatly presented in Google analytics and within a few seconds these metrics should be clearly visible.
Another essential elements to Google analytics is its ability to track and store information on your sites search function.
Google does not automatically track site search and I believe this is the main reason that it is often overlooked. Once you take the time to set up this function you will often be amazed by what the data can tell you about your site.
So what can you learn from site search?
One of the first surprises is the amount of your traffic that will use your search function. Depending on the site it can be anywhere between 15 and 30% of your site’s overall traffic. This figure alone should tell you that people want answers straight away. It doesn’t necessarily matter how well your site is designed and whether or not all the relevant information is clearly presented to your visitors, they will still use your search function simply because they see it as a faster way to find what they are looking for.
The next thing to look at is the list of search terms that analytics has stored, these keywords and search phrases hold a wealth of information, they tell you what a visitor was really looking for on your site and it will then pose the question as to whether or not you had the answer to their question. It will also help you brainstorm new ideas for keywords to target as well as the type of content your visitors are really looking for.
The next thing to look at is what your traffic did on the search results page, you will usually see three possible outcomes, the first is that they spent some time on that page , they went back to the search results to try and find a better match for their search term or they decided to leave your site.
Each of these three possible outcomes will have a different implication for your site.
If they spent a couple of minutes on first search result you can be reassured that the content you produced helped to answer their question and the search functionality on your site is working properly as it displayed the most relevant results for their search.
If they bounced back to the search results within a few seconds it most likely means your content does not provide the answer they were looking for. By further reviewing their click path you will be able to answer more questions about your site and its visitors. If they continually bounced between the search results page and the content pages it can mean that your site is just not providing the answers they are looking for but it can also mean that the traffic you are attracting to your site is hungry for answers because they are willing to stick around to try and find them. Its then up to you to provide better answers.
The worst outcome is if they bounce away from your site completely, there can be a host of reason for this; firstly your content did not provide them with what they were looking for and they were unwilling to give your site second chance. It could also mean that your search results are not displaying the most relevant page at the top. Either way it is something that you will need to rectify.
Monitoring your sites internal search functions can provide a wealth of information not just about your site but also the traffic it receives. It can help you brainstorm new content ideas as well as keywords to target. It will also help highlight any issues that may have previously gone unnoticed and if you can interpret the data correctly it may even provide clues that will help to address these issues.
This is a guest post from Neil at eMobileScan. Based around Europe and currently running a total 18 ecommerce stores dedicated to selling professional handheld computer like the MC75 or barcode scanners like the Symbol ls2208