How to use Google Analytics Internal Site Search?

Google Analytics Internal Site Search

Internal Site Search is one of the most useful yet most underutilized tools within the analytics platform. Google Analytics Site Search Ecommerce Merchants and digital marketers spend tons of money, and time to drive traffic to the websites based upon the keywords they have carefully curated, and nurtured however very few of them keep a close look at what is happening within the internal website when the visitors cannot seem to find what they might be looking for.

So comes the Internal Site Search report within Google Analytics’ Behavior > Site Search.

The very first step that is necessary here is to enable Site Search. Assuming that the site search is technically integrated, next we’re going to look at the data and what can we do with it.

Who should look at Internal Site Search?

Within the Digital Marketing team, all members should be looking at site search report with special emphasis on

  • Paid Team
    Through PPC customers are coming in via various search queries and it makes sense to check if those customers are happy on the destination page they landed on or not. If they land the highly selective page and still searching for other terms, it indicates either the paid campaigns needs refinement or the landing page itself is not optimized/focused enough.
  • SEO
    Similar to paid team, the internal search keywords provide a trove a knowledge to SEO team. As they build the keywords necessary to create content and optimize on-page elements, the valuable gems left by customers really display what’s truly important for them.
  • Conversion Optimization
    From conversion optimization purposes, when customers search internally they generally convert at much higher rate than those visitors who don’t search. Looking at the top queries and providing the best possible experience on those keywords is paramount to the success of the website.
  • Product Managers
    Product team would need to be aware of what is being searched upon internally so they can be aware of customer behavior internally on the website. This would reflect upon the product names, attributes, brand terms and other factors in launching new products as well as nurturing existing products.
  • Design / UX
    Members and design team and user experience team can also learn a ton from what’s being searched upon internally. When these terms are reviewed along with the type of page, it adds insight into customer’s thinking and helps provide an excellent experience. For example, a certain search for a product name can be expected on a homepage however if the same search is taking place on a product page in a significant manner, the information architecture of the product page need to be evaluated.

Uses of Internal Site Search

Site Search data can be used in many different ways including some of the followings:

  • Understand customer behavior
    Are visitors using the navigation or searching?
  • Find out valuable keywords
    When the visitors already on your website, let’s find out what keywords are they searching for? Are they refining the search? Once refined, are they continuing on their journey to your goal (aka shopping cart, form completion, subscription) or are they exiting the search experience?
  • Evaluate findability of content/product in the website
    Are your products easily findable from the general search from your homepage? Are those products filterable using attributes? Are related products and accessories searchable as well?
  • What’s average time spent after the search on the search results? Is it typical? Find the search terms with high exit rate and determine why visitors were not finding what they were looking for.

Search KPIs

Internal Search KPIs can be primarily divided into 2 sections:

1) Engagement / Visits related KPIs

  • Total Unique Searches
  • Results Pageviews / Search
  • % Search Exits
  • % Search Refinements
  • Time after Search
  • Avg. Search Depth

2) eCommerce related KPIs

  • Total Unique Searches
  • Revenue
  • ¬†Transactions
  • Avg. Order Value
  • Ecommerce Conversion Rate
  • Per Search Value

Analysis using Internal Site Search Data

The values of these KPIs are not uniform universally and would rather depend upon the industry. This is where the data scientist’s or digital marketers can dig in and come up with actionable insight to help the business.

Let’s take a look at this scenario (keywords blocked for privacy purposes). Here is data is exported to excel for analysis. You can download upto 5,000 rows easily from the GA interface. With some hacks, more data can be downloaded.

We’re looking at top searches on an eCommerce website.

Internal Search ECommerce KPIs

Here, some of the questions we can ask ourselves:

  • Is having a lot of searches good? See row highlighted in yellow
    The highest searched-upon term, in this case, is pointing that the website does not offer a good experience for this term. Digital marketers should evaluate where this traffic is coming from. If this traffic is coming from a paid campaign, it should be paused until the website is fine-tuned with proper landing pages with right products.
  • Why the search with the highest unique searches has only 1 order where are other searches have much more?
  • Why certain search terms lead to high conversion rate?
  • Price Issue
    Are there any price issues related the terms that are highly sought after however offering poor conversion rate.
  • Relevant traffic
    An example of relevant traffic going to the correct landing pages can be seen on the row highlighted in green. Note, it’s no the highest searched upon term, however, it has extremely high revenue, very impressive conversion rate.
  • Don’t ignore per search value of key phrases over a long period of time. This is a true indicator of how valuable a term is for your business.


To use internal site search, first of you’ve set up the search under Admin > Profile Settings > Site Search Settings > Do Track Site Search. This allows engagement KPIs as well as e-commerce KPIs to be captured. By analyzing these KPIs and data, digital marketers are curate valuable keywords as well as optimize the landing pages for highest possible conversion rates.


About Ujjwal Bhattarai

Ujjwal is an engineer by education, a programmer by hobby, and an internet marketer by choice. Other than 1 minute chess, and biking, his passion includes SEO, SEM/PPC, CRO, and Web Development. As a lifelong student of Internet Development, he is hopelessly addicted to Internet, and sincerely believes after fire, wheel, and decimal point, internet is the fourth most important invention in the human history. Catch up with him on Twitter at @uj2wal or at his Google+ .

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