This is part two in a two part series about the new GA on site search reports. In part one I discussed the setup.
There is a tremendous amount of information in the new Site Serch reports about ow your visitors interact with your search engine. But it goes way beyond measuring how many searches occurred for a keyword. The new reports actually tie outcomes to searches providing insight into what product sand content your site visitors are looking for. But enough babble, on to the screen shots.
What Reports are Available
First and foremost there is the Usage report. This reports helps you understand if visitors are using site search. If you’re trying to push site search as a navigational tool for your visitors, and only 2% of site traffic is using site search, then your navigation may not be working. You may want to change the visibility of the search box.
The Usage report is pretty good, but everyone wants to know what people are searching for. The Search Terms report contains all of the search terms that visitors entered into your on site search. One thing you should know is that GA is reporting UNIQUE searches. This means that duplicate searches, made in the same visit, are excluded. So it is not a count of how many times a term was search for, but rather how many VISITS contained a search for a specific term.
Take a look at the narrative at the top of the report. It contains a number of new metrics to evaluate on site search. Total Unique Searches indicates what search terms people are entering. % Search Exits indicates what percentage of visitors are leaving immediately from the search results page. This could indicate that visitors are unhappy with the search results. Time after Search and Search Depth indicate the engagement of the visitor after using search.
Google Analytics does not normalize the search terms. This means that misspellings and similar searches are not grouped together. So the search terms ‘red sox’, ‘red socks’ and ‘Red Sox’ would appear as individual line items. You’ll need to review your data and manually normailze it using filters.
Another really cool report is the Site Search Start page. This report shows where your site searches originated. It identifies the page that the visitor was on when the seach occured. This can help identify issues with navigation or the data architecture.
Now we know where people started their searches, but what about where they end up? The Search Destination Report shows which pages people navigate to directly from the search results page.
What’s really cool is if we click on a destination page that is listed in the above report we can see all the search terms that drove people to the page. Here’s what happens if I click on one of the results in the previous report:
There are other reports that do a good job of illustrating how visitors use site search. If you select a search term in any reports you can do a really deep analysis using the analyze drop down. One option is the Search Navigation report. This report shows where someone started their search and where they went after the search.
What about peple who search multiple times? Another analysis option is to use the Search refinement report. This report shows how people refine their search terms during their visit. So, in the image below, visitors began by searching for dog. Then they refined their search using one of the terms in the report.
Ok, one more thing about the Search Reports. Notice that the standard Goal Conversion and Ecommerce tabs exist on most reports. These tabs provide information about which searches lead to conversions and, if you’re an e-commerce site, the revenue that each generated. Pretty darn cool is you ask me.
The one report that is missing from Google Analytics is the ’0 Result’ searches. It’s really important to know what on site searches are producing 0 results. This is an indicator of missing site content. You can artificially create this data by creating an event or a pageview (I suggest event) in Google Analytics. I’ll write more about how to do this in another post. But be aware that the new reports to not contain this data.
There is a ton that you can do with the new on site search reports. Not only can you analyze what people are looking for and optimize your content, but you can also identify how visitors integrate search into their visit.
Have fun with these reports!
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