If your website has a search function, you should be tracking it! Understanding what your visitors are searching for and their behavior before and after your search can offer insight into usability and ideas on how to improve your website. Depending on your analytics package and your website platform, the site search data available may vary. Check into what is available to you and make sure you are leveraging your data!
1. How many of your visitors are using the site search?
Too many searches might indicate certain content is difficult to find, so visitors are turning straight to the site search. Making your navigation more intuitive or using calls to action on the home page can help visitors find important information.Too few visitors using the site search might indicate that the feature is hard to find or hard to use. Moving the site search to a more prominent location can make have a big effect on usage. Thinking of moving your site search box? Check out this post on 13 tips on best practices and positioning of the site search box.
2. How many of your visitors are exiting your site after they perform a search?
If this number is high, it might indicate visitors aren’t finding what they are looking for when they search. Checking that your search function is returning accurate results is key, but you may also want to consider tweaking your ‘No Results Found’ page. It should never be a dead end; instead, offer your visitors more information such as similar products, a phone number to call for help, or a live chat option.
3. Now to the most obvious question…What are your visitors searching for?
Knowing what visitors search for the most is critical for identifying patterns on your website. Take a look at the top terms and see how easy they are to find out your site without using the search. Consider changing the navigation or callouts to make them more prominent. Are there seasonal trends in what your visitors are looking for? Again, take note of these and make sure they are easy to find on your website.If your visitors are searching for something that isn’t on your site, create content that fulfills what your visitors are looking for.
Another great aspect of identifying what visitors are searching for is understanding what terms your customers are using, not the industry jargon that you are used to. Identifying misspellings, longer tailed keywords (generally, a keyword phrase consisting of three to five words), or laymen’s terms can help you write more effective, engaging content. This will allow you to connect with your visitors better, and even provide keyword ideas for your paid search campaigns.
Are you tracking your internal site search data? Does your website even have a search function? Don’t miss the opportunity to get feedback directly from your customers on what they are looking for!