What is site search in Google Analytics?

Site search in Google Analytics is a feature that allows you to track the usage of the internal search feature of your site. A lot of sites, especially larger ones, have an internal search feature. They’re most common on ecommerce sites where they allow users to search for products. However, tons of large sites have them, even if it’s just for convenience.

It could be very interesting to learn what users are searching for and how much the search feature is used. For example, imagine that users have trouble finding a specific page on your site, and they use the search bar to find it. You may find that an overwhelming amount of searches for that page are being done. This way, you know that page needs to become more easily accessible. This information is collected in the site search report. 

You can also use this for promotional purposes. Finding that a lot of users are overwhelmingly looking for a certain type of product? Why not build a promotion around that exact product? 

How do I enable site search in Google Analytics?

Setting up site search in Google Analytics takes a minute, but thankfully it’s not as difficult as it seems. To start, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account
  2. On the start screen, click the gear in the bottom left to open up the settings. 
  3. Make sure you’re on the Admin tab. In the right column labeled ‘View’, make sure the view that you want to set up site search for is selected. If not, select it from the dropdown menu. 
  4. Click ‘View Settings’
  5. Under ‘Site Search Settings’, set the ‘Site search Tracking’ button to ‘ON’
  6. In the ‘Query Parameter’ field, enter the word, term or character that you use to identify search queries in your URLs on your site. This is usually a word like ‘keywords’ or ‘search’, or a character like ‘q’. If your site uses multiple query parameters, you can provide multiple by seperating them with a comma. For example: ‘search,q,s’ sets the terms ‘search’, ‘q’ and ‘s’ as three seperate query parameters.
    Not sure what your query parameter is? Read our article about Google Analytics Query parameter.
  7. Check ‘Strip query parameters out of URL’ if you want Google Analytics to remove the query parameter from the URL in your search reports. This is purely an aesthetic, personal choice, so feel free to choice whatever you prefer.
  8. Under ‘Site search categories’, decide whether you want to have this feature turned on or off, and set the button to the right position.
  9. Click ‘Done’. Voila! You’re all set up!

What is a site search report?

A site search report is an overview of the way people have searched and what they have searched on your site. You can use these reports to gain insight into what your users are searching. This can give you an indication of what pages could use improving, or what pages could be worth highlighting or promoting. 

In Google Analytics, you can find the site search report under Behaviour. There are four main reports you can view:

  • Overview: Offers a general overview of all the information collected by Google Analytics regarding searches
  • Usage: Shows information on visits with and visits without searches
  • Search terms: Shows information on the different terms users have searched for on your site
  • Search Pages: Shows information on the pages from which searches were made

Of course, as with any report, you can add different segments and dimensions to these in order to gain better insight into specific information.

What is an internal site search URL?

When visitors use the search bar on your site the url of the page is appended with a parameter, https://www.website.com/search?q=search-query, for example. This URL is your internal site search URL.

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