You know that search bar at the top of your website? 

Turns out it’s not just useful for your customers, it’s a really useful feature for you too. In fact, we produced a guide on how to audit your site search just last week.

Depending on how much traffic your site gets, your site search function can help gather heaps of useful data that can go onto inform:

  • Your product led PR
  • Your content strategy
  • Content campaign ideas

First of all you need to switch site search on, instructions on how to do so are below: 

Once you have done that you can find all the  information you need in Google Analytics under ‘Behaviour’ and ‘Site search’. 

Once you’ve found the site search area in GA, under the ‘Search Terms’ tab you will find the following:

  • Total unique searches (Total times that query was searched)
  • Results page views (Average number of times visitors viewed a search results page)
  • % Search exits (Number of exits from your site following a search)
  • % Search refinements (Total number of refinements that occurs between internal search keywords within a session)
  • Time after search (Amount of time visitors spent on your site after a search)
  • Average search depth (The number of pages visitors viewed after searching the term)

Now, if you click edit, you can add to this ‘Transactions’ and ‘Revenue’ to view how many sales and how much revenue individual search terms are contributing to the site.

How to use your internal search for Product Led PR

Once you have your report setup in GA, what you want to do is export the first 500 rows or so of data into an excel sheet. Then you can start to filter this data to help show gaps in your product strategy i.e. terms that users are searching for a lot but are not getting what they need from your site.

If search terms are in high volume but have:

  • High % search refinements
  • Low time after search
  • Low Average search depth or zero results

Then these are the kind of products that your audience are searching for but you may not currently offer. Launching product ranges that will satisfy high volume search terms can be very lucrative.

Here’s an example for one of our retail clients, Missguided. ‘Maternity’ was a search term often used in the internal search function but the client did not currently sell a maternity clothing range.

Cue the maternity range product launch with multiple PR placements and links….

In the week following the launch vs the previous week you can see a massive increase in transactions and revenue and also an increase in time after search and decrease in search refinements. 

Occasionally, you might have some fairly low volumes of data in your analytics but they might spark a cool campaign idea. You may remember Missguided launching matching outfits for dogs and owners? The campaign went everywhere in digital PR terms, here’s how it had an impact from a commercial point of view.

The range was a commercial success within a day and went on to sell for months after it’s launch. You can use this approach to help educate new product launches as well and identify any potential partner brands that your audience are searching for e.g. Peppa Pig

How to use your internal search to improve your content strategy

Your audience won’t just be using your internal search in order to find products, they are also likely to have numerous questions that need answering or information to find and to do that they’ll often refer to your site search function.

These can be quite simple things that you may not have thought of. For example, if you run a theme park, I’d imagine that there would be a large number of search queries around maps and accessibility, the kind of content you should usually have already on your site. These types of content may already be things you have on your site but content that users may not be able to find using your main navigations. You can take this kind of information and use it to help inform your user journeys.

From here you can export your search terms and start to filter through them using the same methodology as above, this time though start to group the ones that are more information-based. Filtering the searches by ‘how’ can usually be a good start but there will be lots of queries that will be specific to your business, particularly if you are selling a complex product or if the purchase is a big decision for the user. 

I’ve worked with a business that recruited contractors for large oil and gas companies around the globe. Now, moving to a rig north of Scotland or relocating to Australia is a big decision for a UK based contractor. The client was receiving thousands of internal searches per month for terms like ‘Australia and Australia relocation’ so we produced relocation information packs for each main territory that showed up for site search queries. These content pieces contributed 100s of assisted conversions per month because they satisfied the questions these users were having before committing to a decision. 

Another method you can use here that will provide similar insights is using Google Search Console and looking for impressions for branded searches + keyword. This can be an indication that people can’t find what they are looking for on your site so instead are using Google to find the relevant areas.

How to use your internal search for content campaign ideas

Depending on the type of business you run, you might be able to use your internal site search data to form campaign ideas. Internal searches can give you unique data that you can form into multiple angles for a campaign.

In a past campaign for a private number plate business, I analysed over 4 million site searches for personalised number plates. We found the following data that could be used as hooks for all kinds of publishers.

  • Explicit terms are very popular, even more so than ‘mum’ or ‘dad’
  • LFC is the most popular football team for a number plate related search
  • Site searches mirrored popular trends, Paul Pogba inspired ‘dabbing’ was on the rise whereas TOWIE’s ‘Reem’ was on the decline.
  • There was a big postcode war between the more affluent areas of London such as Notting Hill and Chelsea
  • People were actually searching for ‘Trump’ and ‘Brexit’ related number plates

You can guess at what angle the Mail Online went with….

This campaign took a day to pull together.

So, it’s well worth filtering through your site search data to see if there’s anything unique in there that can go onto form a larger campaign idea that can go onto achieve national coverage.

Luke Cope

About Luke Cope