Knowing what visitors are searching for at your site is one of the most useful metrics you have to tweak content, adjust navigation architecture, and improve conversion but by default, Google Analytics (GA) does not track visitor searches. So even though you may notice the default menu item for Site Search via your Reporting admin panel, don’t be surprised if you pop in and see a metrics big goose egg staring back at you.
- Go to your GA Admin panel.
- In the “View” column, click “View Settings.”
- Find the “Site Settings” section and toggle on the “Site Search Tracking” button.
At this point, you’ll want to open a new browser tab or window and go to your website. Once you’re there, perform a site search using your default search tool (it doesn’t matter what you search for). What you’re looking for here is the query parameter in the search results URL, GA needs to track your search data.
- The query parameter is located between the question mark and the equal sign; typically, it is a single letter such as “s” or “q” and in the example above, it is the former. However, it’s perfectly fine if the query parameter is a complete word such as “term, search, or query.”
- Enter the query parameter.
- Click the “Save” button.
Give it a 24 hours or so to take effect but once it does, you’ll notice those Site Search admin panels in the Reporting menu will begin producing some metrics fruit you can turn into sweet, sweet #GoogleJuice.
- It’s worth mentioning here that if you have a complex search functionality that includes the ability to refine site searches, you’ll want to consider activating this option. You’ll need to enter the internal query category variables; GA has more info on what those are and how to enter them into this field via their Set Up Site Search
When combined with activating demographics and interest reports, you have two very powerful and infinitely useful tools at your disposal to begin converting data into action.