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The new Google Analytics: Part I, Analytics for Site Search

Welcomsitesearch.jpge to the new Google Analytics! I wasn’t at the announcement a few minutes ago in DC, but we announced Urchin 6.0 software, plus event tracking for GA and site search. I’ll write about event tracking over time, but first I want to write about site search — the new capabilities GA has to track how visitors search within the content of your own site.

At first, I wasn’t overly impressed. What’s the big deal here? I thought. I can already give my content > top content report the name of the parameter that pulls out my onsite searches, like search= or query= or even s=, and from there, get a report of what people searched once they were on my site. So who cares?

So, this proves that I wasn’t a very good beta tester. I had all this functionality and didn’t play with it (or even bother to understand it) until our team went to Google Analytics Authorized Consultant training last week. And there I saw Phil, the product manager, demo the functionality that I have been ignoring. (Wow, how cool! I thought. What analyst in her right mind wouldn’t want that in her reports?)

Sure, once you have site search analytics, you can see what was searched for, more easily. But it doesn’t stop there. You can see conversion rate and e-commerce metrics by on-site search term, just like you can with organic search terms coming in from search engines. You can also see what pages people were on when they did a search (so you could correlate that with entrance pages, and when the correlation isn’t very good, start to hypothesize that the navigation isn’t working for you on that particular page. Some people are just born searchers, and you have to assume that a search that is on an entrance page is very often a personality issue — they love to search — not a navigation issue.)

You can figure out how search helped you or not. For example, in the screenshot below, you’ll notice that those who used search on our site tos.jpgstayed for over 9 minutes, and those who didn’t, stayed for less than 2 minutes:

You can work with destination pages. For example you can choose a search term from the search terms menu, and then drill down and segment by destination page. In other words, when people typed in “red shoes,” did they choose the important red shoes page with the cool new red clogs, or did they choose that awful red shoes page with the old red ratty cheap sneakers? Or did they just exit in droves (no good destination page, one might assume?)

You can do other things with the usage (and I am sorry to skip around, but am working to keep the ideas with the screen shots.) For example, you can look at bounce rate by search (notice how our bounce rate goes way down if the visitor uses search). Or you can look at conversion rate, or time on site, or a whole bunch of other metrics.


So welcome to the new Google Analytics. Soon I will write about the new ga.js and event tracking. (But before that, I have filter articles to finish and pictures to show.)

Robbin Steif

About Robbin Steif

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics ten years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a recent winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership.


8 Responses to “The new Google Analytics: Part I, Analytics for Site Search”

Nice Post! My initial impression was pretty similar to your about the site search, but you’ve definitely given reason to take another look at the tool.

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pavel jašek says:

I just want to comment the last figure with bounce rate. If your landing pages are not or can not be search result pages, it is useless to follow this cross-segmented report. Because if a visitor visits your (home) page and then searches for something, it is therefore a not-bounced visitor. Or am I wrong?

Robbin says:

Pavel, you are right. It is probably a bad example. I just wanted to show, back then (this is an old post) that you could do so much…..

My Credit says:

I agree with Jerremy Hutton, you have definitely given reason taking another look at the tool.
Nice post !

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