You have built your nifty website. Yay! People are flocking to it in droves (you wish). You have started to collect data…… Conclusions are being drawn.
One of the first pieces of data most website owners look at is their website’s Visitors (how many people come to a website) & then their Bounce Rate. Google describes Bounce rate as:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce rate is a measure of visit quality and a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.
This number can be sobering as you have probably spent loads of hard earned cash expecting that everyone will love your website and that the information you have provided will be relevant to what the web searcher is looking for. This is not always the case. And, to be honest, although monitoring a site’s visitors & bounce rate is important, it is not the be all and end all.
I digress. This post is actually about how to take advantage of a feature that is prevalent on most every website these days. The innocuous Search Box.
These days site search is becoming more and more important. Who is to say that once someone lands on your website, they will find what they want right away. You have invested heavily in organic SEO with the hope (prayer?) that once people search for that particular keyword or phrase, your site will be the first to appear in the SERP. This being the case, once the web surfer has clicked through to your site, you will (hopefully) be serving up the dish they ordered. If not, they may hang around a while and dig some more. If not, the will leave (Bounce!). Note: In theory the lower your site’s bounce rate the better.
Work in areas such as your Website’s design, speed and usability, content & it’s navigation system will help keep people on the site. Adding a useful Search Box is a great step forward. I say useful because the engine that powers your site’s search feature needs to serve up some goodies pretty quickly. If not…. Bye Bye….. “next”!
Fast forward! You have an awesome site with a great search appliance. You need to measure not only the fact that people are using that Search box, but also what they are searching for. The data you will mine here will invariably help you tune many aspects of your site. Really, it will!
Google Analytics serves up a great option that for some (insane?) reason many people ignore when they set up their GA account. And that my friends is the ability to track | measure internal site searches. By measuring and analyzing this information you will find out some nifty things.
As with any data, you will get more appreciable results by measuring over a prolonged period of time (i.e. 30 days versus 2 days).
It is interesting to draw comparisons of what people search for while on your site versus what they type in while getting there via a search engine. For example, why would someone key in “widgets” on your site when they already used the same keyword to get there from a search engine? In other words, web surfers are actually using their brains when they hit your site and use its search feature. They have taken the first step and found a site that should have something they are looking for to do with widgets. Time to refine that search.
Use of a site search box actually infers user engagement as they have arrived, and are intrigued by what they see. Despite not finding what they are looking for initially, they did not run! A second chance for you. Don’t mess up.
So be sure that the Search appliance you are using works well and that you take the time to enable your Analytics application’s ability to track internal site searches…. And mine that data. Analyze it, parse it, cut it, slice it! Draw conclusions. Assign goals. Then do it all over again.