Google Analytics comes with many features “out-of-the-box,” but one of the reports that you will need to configure is the site search report. If you have an internal search box on your site and haven’t used this feature yet, continue reading.
The site search reports provide material on what type of content people are looking for on your site. And we can track the search strings that visitors enter in an internal search box. Having site search data is a path leading you to understanding the minds of visitors, and you can derive valuable insights into what visitors are thinking. You can easily see what they’re looking for, the words and vocabulary they use, and how quickly they found what they were looking for.
How to setup Site Search in GA
By default, standard GA implementation doesn’t have internal search reporting enabled. In order to activate the internal site search, we need to configure GA manually.
Below are the steps to get site search running:
- Navigate to the Admin tab
- Click View > View Settings
- Scroll to the bottom, where you’ll find ‘Site Search Settings’
- Click the button so that its setting is ‘On’
The next step is to identify your site’s query parameter. Follow the steps below to locate your site’s query parameter
- Open a new browser or tab, and access your website
- In your website's internal search box, type the word "test" and enter
- You will be taken to your internal search landing page
- On the landing page URL, you will see your search term after "?"
- The letter before the equals sign ("=") is your website’s query parameter (usually the letter is ‘q’ but it can be anything depending upon your website’s setting)
- Enter this value into the query parameter box in GA
- Click save
Site Search Report
To find your site search report in GA navigate to Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search
There are four reports under Site Search
- Search Terms
1. Overview Report: A summary view of the high level metrics related to your internal site search.
- Sessions with Site Search, % Search Refinements and % Search Exits: When looked at collectively, these metrics can tell you more about how visitors are finding content on the site. If all three numbers are high, it probably means users are not satisfied with the results that they‘re looking for.
- Time after Search and Average Search Depth: On the contrary, if these two metrics are high, it probably means users discover a lot of value in your site search results.
2. Usage Report: User that used site search vs. those who didn’t use site search during their journey
Visits with Site Search and without: You can see how visits that included search compare to visits that did not include search with respect to traffic and conversions. Also you can compare Goals with Acquisition and Behavior data alongside.
And, the ecommerce tab shows how revenue and other ecommerce metrics differ for visits with and without site search.3. Search Terms: Shows the most used search terms with corresponding engagement metrics
The Search Terms report only includes visits during which a search was performed. The terms are listed as dimensions in the table, and you can see how each term compares in terms of number of unique searches, percentage of search refinements, conversions and other metrics.
If one search term has an unusually high % of Search Refinements or % Search Exits, then you most likely don’t have the relevant content those visitors are looking for.4. Pages: Page on which user made their queries on site search box
The overall summary of the data will show you where users are having problems finding content. The Start Pages report shows all of the pages from which visitors made their queries. Click on a page/URL in the table to learn more about the searches that happened from that page. A detail report will appear which shows all of the search terms that were used from that page.
Once you have set up this tool and data starts flowing, you can start to analyze internal search term data.
Site Search reports will usually show a different number of conversions than what is shown in rest of the other reports. Because in the Site Search report goal conversions are based on visits that include at least one search on your website whereas the goal conversions data in all other reports are based on all visits. As Site Search reports only include conversions from visits that contain a search, you can see how effectively searches on your site drive conversions.