How-to Set up Site Search Tracking in Google Analytics

Ever wondered what your visitors search for on your own website?

Yes, Site Search is a part of Google Analytics and allows you to track the search terms your visitors use when on your website, and here is how to set it up for WordPress.

  1. Sign in to your Analytics account.
  2. Click Admin located in the lower left corner of the screen.
    Turn on Site Search
  3. Click View Settings.
    View Settings
  4. Under Site Search Settings, set Site Search Tracking to ON.
  5. In the Query Parameter field, enter the letter S for most WordPress Sites.
  6. Tick the box to strip the query parameter from your URL.
    Google Analytics Site Search

Don’t have WordPress? that’s cool, replace the S in the query parameter with the corresponding word or words your website uses. Such as term, search or query for example. Some sites may also use the letter Q.

Once this has been configured you may have to wait 24-48 hours before the results start to appear in the Google Analytics Reports.  Aaargh! I know right? BUT none the less, the wait is worth it. Once you know what your visitors are searching for, you also know what your visitors can’t find easily, and some subtle design changes here and there will keep them happy.

“remember to build your website for your visitors, not for Google”

It’s also a great way to see what sort of content your visitors are hoping to find and may be something you can create and add to later.

Site Search Reports

Once the above steps have been completed, you will soon start to see the results of those search terms. Navigate to Behaviour, Site Search and then click on Search Terms.

Site Search

Understanding the Report

By now you will be looking at the search term report and it looks a little like this.

Search Term Report

Some of this info is pretty self-explanatory. But lets quickly go through them anyway.

  • Search Term – These are the actual keywords people used to try and find specific information on your website.
  • Total Unique Searches – The total number of times that keyword was searched by different people.
  • Results Pageviews / Search – Percentage of times the search results page was viewed. Results page 1 and page 2 for example.
  • Search Exits – Percentage of visitors who left your website immediately after performing a search. Possibly didn’t find what they were looking for and decided to go somewhere else.
  • Search Refinements – Percentage of users adjusting their search terms to narrow down the results.
  • Time After Search – The amount of time users spent on your website after performing a search.
  • Avg. Search Depth – The number of pages viewed after performing a search.

And there you have it, you are now a Site Search Guru! well…. at least until the next time someone throws a curve ball question at you haha.

Corey Masters

Author Corey Masters

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