How to set up Internal Site Search

If you have a search field that lets customers search on your website, you can set up “Site Search” to track what search terms users enter. This can help you identify missing or obscured content, optimize navigation and site layout, improve search results, and even generate ideas for new keywords for marketing campaigns.

To set up Site Search, you need to have Administrator rights on the view. First, go to the Admin section. Under the “View” column, click on “View Settings.” 

Then scroll down to “Site Search Settings.” Switch the Site Search tracking toggle to “On.” When Site Search is switched on, a couple fields will appear.

First, you need to enter the “query parameter” that your website uses in the URL when users search on your site. This is usually designated by a question mark followed by a letter or word and then an equals sign before the search term. The Google Merchandise Store uses the term “keywords” before the search query.

We recommend removing this parameter from your Content reports by clicking “Strip Query Parameter out of URL.” This will eliminate duplicate data in your reports.

Optionally, if you have search categories on your site, you can turn that option on to track the category along with the search term.  The Google Merchandise Store doesn’t have specific site search categories, so we can leave this turned off. To save your Site Search settings, click “Save.”

Once you’ve set up Site Search, new metrics will appear in the “Site Search” reports under “Behavior.” The “Overview” report shows how many of the users who visited your site used Site Search within the report time period.

  • “Search Exits” are the number of searches made immediately before leaving the site.
  • “Search Refinements” are the number of times a user immediately searched again after performing a search.
  • “Time After Search” is the amount of time users spend on a site after performing a search.
  • And “Average Search Depth” is the number of pages that were viewed after getting back search results.

After you set up Site Search, you may need to wait a week or two to have enough data to discover insights. 

The “Usage” report splits site search out by Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion metrics. To view your search terms data in more detail, click on the “Search Terms” report.

The Search Terms report shows all of your website search terms in a table view.

The “Pages” report will show you which pages users most commonly searched from. If you add a secondary dimension of “Search term” to this report, you can find some potential areas for site optimization.

For example, if many searches start from a particular product page, there may be a disconnect between what users expect to see on that page and what they actually find. You may want to optimize that page for the terms being searched for.

In the case of the Google Merchandise Store, you can see that there are many searches for Nexus and Chromecast devices from the homepage. This indicates that users aren’t aware that these devices are sold on the Google Store website, not the Google Merchandise Store website. The Merchandise Store may want to show a clarifying message or link out to the Google Store when users search for these terms. 

As you can see, Site Search is easy to set up and can offer insights to help you optimize your websites and marketing campaigns.

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