June 3, 2020

Site Search Data: Hidden Gold for Your Digital Strategy

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By Steve Baker, Operations Director at Epiphany

As we all adjust to our new way of working, and UK lockdown continues, our audiences are also looking for different information online, and potentially on your website too. Jaywing previously discussed how you can adapt your search strategy during this time, now they want to focus in on one of those tactics – site search data.

Maybe you’re a retailer with all your stores closed or a hotel chain with all your properties not taking any bookings. As you’re not able to engage with your audience directly, they will be using many methods to find the information they need. Users will be using the search function on your site to find what they need, and this could unearth some real opportunities.

So first of all, you need to make sure that your site search is linked with your Google Analytics account. This will allow you to look at the results within the Google Analytics interface, download data, and manipulate this as you need to. More info on how to do this can be found here.

Once you have this and a decent amount of data is collated, you can start to look at the data in different ways. Here’s how you can take advantage of this data and improve the performance of your website.

Are people using your site search function more than they were before COVID-19?

Make sure this is relative. Work out what percentage of visitors used site search in the last four weeks as opposed to the previous four, and the four before that. If the number of people using site search has gone up, this means people are potentially struggling to find certain things on your website. You then need to consider how you can surface what they are searching for higher up in the hierarchy of your website.

Check for any trends over the last eight weeks

Do you see any search terms that are increasing in popularity over the last few weeks, or conversely, decreasing? This can outline the type of content you need to make more prominent on your website to ensure you are catering for the needs of your audience. Cross-reference this with any increases in search volume (again relatively) you may have seen so you can start to work out what content you need to produce or refresh to make sure you are giving your visitors the best answers you can.

What do people go on to do once they have used the site search function?

Are they more or less likely to convert than people who don’t? Do they look at more content than people who don’t? Do they spend less or more time than people who don’t use the site search? These can all be useful signals in identifying the best performing pieces of content, and also flag opportunities to serve more relevant content to your audience.

Do visitors go to the “right” page once they have used the site search?

The result a site search serves, and the “best” result you have on the site for that search aren’t always the same thing. You can assess whether your site search is showing the right results by looking at how the page visitors find performs, and how the page you want them to find performs. If your site search isn’t returning the best results, you may need to look at adding more relevancy on the page you want to be the top result by amending the copy on the page, and potentially even adding or changing the metadata. Most site searches work on keyword relevancy in the page content, so this should be easy to engineer.

Is the content that appears in the site search good enough?

If the pages that appear in the site search are old pieces of content, including out of date information or aspects of the page that don’t work properly, this will reflect poorly on your business. You need to update this kind of content and make it current so you can ensure you are delivering the message you want your visitors to see.

Site search is often an overlooked area of Analytics, but it can give you real, valuable insight into what your visitors are actually looking for. This can help you to re-plan your content strategy, and even help you define new keyword lists to target in your paid campaigns which could bring new or better audiences to your site.

Written by

Steve Baker,
Operations Director at Epiphany