Last updated Nov 02 2020

⚡ Ecommerce site search

Site search: stop leaving money on the table - Kristina Azarenko

Kristina Azarenko, an ecommerce and technical SEO consultant with MarketingSyrup, talks about how you can use site search analysis to increase conversions and understand user behavior on your website.

What Kristina covers:

  • How to enable site search in Google Analytics
  • Three ways to use search analysis to improve conversions
  • Why and how you should hide your URLs from the Google Index

Click below to read the transcript.

[Transcript]

Hi everyone, I'm Kristina Azarenko, an eCommerce and technical SEO consultant, and today, I'll show you an efficient and really good way to analyze how users use your website, and how to increase your revenue and conversions based on this.

We're going to talk about site search analysis. But first things first, how you actually get this information in the first place. What you need to do is to switch it on in your Google Analytics, it's free and it's just awesome.

So, you go to your view settings in Google Analytics, switch site search tracking on, insert the query parameter that your website uses for site search results pages, and once this information is populated in your reports, you'll see it there under behaviors and search tabs.

I'll show you three ways how you can efficiently use search analysis to improve conversions.

First thing that you can do is to use site search to catch product misspellings. For example, here is a website, which sells Magento extensions and Rimini Shipping deleted extensions on this website.

If I'm looking for shipping, I can see all the shipping extensions out there, right? But what if I misspell shipping, and use shipping with one P only, it returns no results. It means that as a user, I'm going there and I don't see any products that would match my search. And honestly, most of the people would use your site search only when they are desperate, so it costs you a lot to let these people go to your competitors.

What you can do, you can use site search analysis to catch the most popular misspellings and still provide relevant search results for these misspellings on your website. H&M does a really good job at it. For example, if you are going to look for skinny jeans and spell skinny with only one N, they will still show you results for skinny jeans with skinny spelled correctly. That's a good use of site search and how you can actually provide value to your customers.

The second way to use site search is to get ideas for product categories. Here's an example, if many people are looking for your website for black backpacks, there is a chance that there are so many more people out there looking for the same thing on Google.

So, instead of making your users guess whether you have those backpacks or not, you can create a page which is optimized, first of all, which provides value. And in this case, you're helping the users which are already on your page on your website. And also you're creating a page, a landing page, which can be ranked on Google, it's a win-win for you. Use your site search to analyze and get ideas for specific category pages.

One more thing is you can use site search to remove buyer friction at different stages of the buyer journey. If I'm shopping, like any of you, if I'm shopping for any product, I want to make sure that I know how much the shipping will cost.

I should know whether I will be able to return this product if it doesn't work for me, and also which size should I choose? Sometimes, websites and online stores fail to get this information in front of their users as soon as possible, and that's why they are losing these potential clients.

So, if you're in the site search analysis, you see that there are so many people looking for this additional information, by site search, it means that you're not really doing a great job at communicating this before people start using site search (as people usually use the site search only like as a last resort), and imagine how many people are not using it and just leaving your website—that's huge.

Instead of making people guess, just include some information, for example, on the product page on shipping or returns, and link to the page which describes it in detail.

And as I'm an SEO, I couldn't leave you without an SEO tip. The site search pages, think about them, while they are valuable on your website, they're not really valuable on Google. And Google treats your website, although it is the quality of your website, based on all the URLs in your website that it has in your index.

If there are so many site search pages and every time a person searches something on your website, it creates a new URL, then that is indexed by Google. So what you can do, you can add this meta robots content noindex tag to the head section of your search page results template and make sure that all the existing pages will be no indexed, and none of the newly created pages will be indexed.

Thank you. These were my top tips of using site search analysis and improving conversions based on this. And if you're really into ecommerce and are interested in SEO, I have a free newsletter which and you can subscribe there and get free tips on ecommerce SEO. Thank you, it was Kristina Azarenko in ecommerce and technical SEO consultant from Toronto.

How to optimize site search results for higher conversion rates - Steve Lamar

Web Analyst Steve Lamar, Founder of PromoPrep, explains how site search optimization will help you increase conversions and better understand your visitors.

What Steven covers:

  • How to set up site search in Google Analytics
  • How to optimize site search for mobile and desktop
  • Four types of site searches
  • Why you should track average search results within Google Analytics

Click below to read the transcript.

[Transcript]

Hi everyone. My name is Steve Lamar. I'm a web analyst with BlueMoon Digital in Denver, Colorado, and today I'm gonna walk you through some quick tips on how to optimize site search and get it set up in Google Analytics.

So, shoppers that use on-site search tend to be more engaged with the site overall, and on average they have three times higher conversion rate and tend to spend 15% more, so they’re also viewing more pages. They stay on the site longer, and they have a higher per session value, so it's really important to make sure your on-site search is easy to find, it's easy to use, and it's fully optimized.

Mobile makes up over 50% of most websites' visits, but navigating on mobile can be pretty difficult, so sites that expose the search field instead of just showing a search icon see up to 44% higher site search engagement, and as we know, higher site search usage leads to more sales, so definitely something I recommend testing out to see if exposing the site search field on your mobile site, in particular, can increase your site search and also look at doing that on desktop as well.

In addition to making search site search easy to find, you also wanna optimize the search results that show up. On ecommerce websites, searches tend to fall into four different categories, the first being a product type search. Let's say I was gonna search for rain jackets. If you have a category that covers the particular search that someone's looking for (so you have a rain jacket category), I’d recommend redirecting them to that category page as opposed to showing the site search results. The category's probably better curated and a better user experience, and also make sure you cover synonyms, so rain jackets, rain coats, and the user should have the same experience searching for different synonyms of different product types.

Product name or exact match searches, so Northface Drizzle Rain Jacket. These are things that are very commonly searched on, so make sure that you have different phonetic spellings, you have misspellings, you include SKUs, product IDs. These are all different ways that people search for exact match or product name type searches.

And there's symptom or inquiry type searches, so let's say I don't really know what kind of gear I'll need when I'm camping in wet weather, so this could return things like products, it could return blog posts, it could return videos, any kind of content that you have available for kind of these broader searches or inquiry searches.

And then finally, non-product searches like return policies, cancellations, things like that. You wanna make sure that you include help articles, blog post videos, so don't just think about the search results as being product-specific. There's definitely searches that occur that are not product-specific on ecoms as well.

To start tracking site search in Google Analytics, it's pretty straightforward. You go to your Google Analytics admin. In the view, you wanna turn it on for, there's a site search tracking section you turn on. Then go to your site. Do a search and look for the query parameter that's right before the search term. Take that and place it into the query parameter field here and save it.

You may see something like S or Q or search term. Place that there. Save it, and then Google will start tracking all the data.

The great thing is that any of the standard dimensions and metrics like revenue and conversion rate and per session search value all get matched up to the search term after you get that turned on, so you can look at different usage reports, search page reports. It's really rich in terms of all the data you can collect, and then you can start looking for optimization opportunities against conversion rates and see how different search terms perform against one another.

And finally, this is not something that's standard in Google Analytics, but tracking the number of search results that are returned after a search is performed. So, if I search for wet weather camping, we wanna know how often that's happening, but we also wanna see how many search results are coming back, so this does require setting up a custom metric, and you may need to work with your developer or whoever's managing your tag manager to get that setup, but it's a great way to understand, get another level of performance pulled into GA.

I did create a blog post that accompanies this presentation for more detail, so follow me on Twitter @SteveJLamar or connect with me on LinkedIn at Steve Lamar and I'd be happy to answer any questions for you. I'll also have a link to this, to the blog post with more information. Thanks.