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Using On-site Search for SEO and SEM Insights in Google Analytics

Your on-site search data can be a valuable source of information about what your audiences want and care about. If you think about it, people who are already on your site and enter a search term believe that you have something they are looking for, and by entering a search term they are telling you exactly what this is.
Your on-site search data allows you to see the total demand for information against certain on-site search keywords. The columns in this report provide:

  • the total unique searches, or the total volume of demand for this specific set of letters and words;
  • the resulting pageviews per search, the average number of times your visitors using this search term viewed the search results page;
  • the percent search exits, or percentage of searches that resulted in the visitor leaving your site right away;
  • the time after search, or how long the average visitor is known to have stayed on your site after conducting this search; and,
  • the search depth, or the average number of pages visitors viewed after conducting this search.

We can use this information to understand what most visitors are interested in, and the percentage of people who are clearly not finding what they want after a search, and then leaving the site. The key here is building up some intelligence about our audiences to help us understand what terms and topics are closest to the hearts of our audiences. If for some reason audiences are searching for ‘pink elephant’, and this has nothing to do with our website or business goals, then obviously these are not the target audience we are interested in, and there is no point in building ‘pink elephant’ content into our online strategy.

Further, what we really care about can be called our online business goals – what we want our audiences to do online. For example: sign-up for a news letter, buy something, return to our site frequently and read through lots of pages, to support an advertising strategy for example, or to become educated and change their behaviour in some way.

DON’T FORGET TO LOOK AT THESE TABS! (THIS IS GOLD!)

These tabs will show you how certain on-site search terms contribute the goal completions and ecommerce conversions you have set up. To learn more about setting up goals see these sites:

1)      http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55515

2)      http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/web-analytics-tips-identify-website-goal-values/

So, once you have done your in-depth analysis to identify which on-site search terms are really valuable to you, you can apply this knowledge to your own SEO and SEM strategies. This allows audience feedback to drive the evolution of your website over time.

This approach gives you the best chance of striking a harmonic chord with your audiences – which can result in a surge in visits to your site. Best of all, these will be QUALITY VISITS, centered on topics related to what your website is all about, and what online business goals you’re really trying to accomplish.

Read more about keyword research on PublicInsite.com.

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