Site Search Data: Shining Light on Real Customer Insights

site search data

As the new girl on campus here at TargetClick, this past week I’ve been helping out here and there with conversion pages, call tracking, blog summaries, keyword research… you get the idea. Well the other day after some intensive keyword research, I stumbled across a really interesting article about using an often overlooked tool. It’s a tool that most websites already have in their own toolbox¬¬—their site search data. The article focused on using site search data to fuel content and key phrase strategy. There’s no need to be operating in the dark when you can use your own site search data to shine some light on important customer insights.

With all of Google’s efforts with Panda and Penguin lately, good content is now more important than ever. We all know content strategy decisions can be tough these days so why not try listening to your customers and use it to your advantage? Your customers are telling you what they want by typing in exactly what they’re searching for into your site search box.

The great part is that this can be extremely helpful for those websites that already have solid keywords and good optimization or for those that need a little boost in those fields. This internal tool can be linked with Google Analytics to help you create an effective content strategy that can benefit both your SEO and paid search efforts. (Helping Britt and Andrew play nice in their SEO vs SEM battle!)

After you link your site search to your Google Analytics profile, you can then analyze your data and find opportunities with these new insights. I’m going to focus on four areas where site search data can help businesses up their game.

Google Analytics search data• Optimization
Since site search data provides us with customers and visitors exact terms, we now have highly relevant keywords at the touch of our fingers. We can use these new keywords and key phrases for both on-page and metadata optimization.
Exact search terms = highly relevant keywords

• New Content Ideas
Another thing site search data can be useful for is pointing out possible deficiencies in your existing content. Perhaps you have lots of search queries for a particular brand like Uggs, but you don’t carry Uggs. After 100 searches a month for Uggs, maybe, just maybe you should consider adding Uggs to your product line. If the demand is there, capitalize on it!

• Refinement Opportunities
Say a lot of your searches are showing content you already have, that’s great! Looking deeper into the data, you can examine the long-tail terms to see if they are a detailed match. For example, your campaign is based on “summer dresses” but your customer is looking for “summer maxi dresses”. You might still rank but not for the right content, thus getting the wrong landing page and no conversion. If I’m looking for a long maxi dress and I keep getting results for short dresses I’m going to try another site.

This also helps with different naming conventions. Keyword research can be time consuming so this would be another asset to see how customers and visitors refer to certain products. You may have a product labeled as “String Top” but if your customers and visitors repeatedly search for “Bikini”, it may be time to change the product name to best serve your customers.

• Market & Product Research
So you’ve analyzed your site search data and see that you over 1000 searches for swimsuits, but you’ve actually only sold very little swimsuits in comparison. Well, what the heck? This is where data interpretation comes in (if we can’t interpret the data for our benefit, what’s the purpose of analyzing the data?). So in the swimsuits case with many searches and few purchases, maybe it’s because you’re either selling the wrong type of swimsuit (cut, color, or brand), they’re too expensive, or maybe it’s just irrelevant to your market and audience. As mentioned above, listening to what your customers and visitors are actively searching for can give you new products to consider adding to your existing product line.

This data can tell us a complete story. Google Analytics tells us what page the customer started their search on, what they exactly searched for, where they landed on after they searched, and where they were when they left the site (hopefully on the order confirmation page instead of the search results page after giving up with non-relevant results).

I’m really excited to start testing this with some of our clients to find new opportunities for success. They’re definitely out there and only require one link to get started! Be on the lookout for my follow-up for this new content strategy in action!

Excited to dig into your site search data and find a goldmine of information? Check out Google’s take on what to ask of your site search data.

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