What is an internal site search

Google Analytics: Evaluate your internal search [practical tip]

Many website and online shop operators are primarily interested in finding out how visitors found their website. But what happens to the internal search? Is it used often? What are we specifically looking for? These things can also be used Analysis tools such as Google Analytics find out.

The so-called Site search function in Google Analytics is probably one of the less or not at all used features. Many site operators assume that the evaluation of the internal search will not reveal any new findings and therefore classify this measure as "not relevant enough".

But this is usually a clear fallacy. Because often in the course of Evaluation of the internal search completely new potential uncovered, which is excellent for Website optimization can be used.

Activation of site search tracking

The default is Site search function inactive, which means that an appropriate configuration must first be made in Google Analytics. The settings including activation can be made in the administration:

Administration> Data View> Data View Settings

A search parameter must be defined there - this means that the The search query made must appear in the URL. WordPress blogs, for example, usually use the following URL structure for internal searches:


In this case an "s" would have to be entered as the search parameter. If the search parameter has been saved and the function activated, the Search queries made by the internal search are recorded. Search queries from the past are not taken into account.

New analysis options

With the Site Search activation you can now many more analysis data can be viewed and evaluated. Some of them are:

  • Sessions with search query
  • % of search exits
  • % of search refinement
  • Time to search
  • Average search depth

Ultimately, a more comprehensive view of the analysis data is possible via the menu. The following are sample scenarios in the evaluation of the internal search:

1. Evaluation of the search terms

The point "search terms" gives one Overview of all search queriesthat were made in the defined evaluation period. There are different approaches to analysis. If, for example, a product is searched for more than average in the online shop, there is a lot to suggest that the product not without a hitch Can be reached via the navigation of the shop and / or is not linked prominently enough in the shop.

Is this the Number of search exits relatively high, so there is a lot to suggest that the internal search could not deliver any relevant results and that the searchers withdrew in frustration. Nobody wants that, of course. In such a case, the solution could be to enter a to create a new sub-page and to be prominently linked on the website.

EXTRA: User experience as the most important factor for a good ranking?

2. Evaluation of the pages

The evaluation of the pages can be used to understand fairly precisely, at which point on the website most searches have been made. If a subpage or a shop category was searched particularly often, the conclusion could be drawn that the subpage does not deliver what the visitor would have expected at this point.

The analysis can be further evaluated by checking what the visitors were looking for on this specific subpage. This could mean, for example, that the name of the subpage is misleading or too crude. A Optimization on the structural and content level would be the result.

3. Other profitable analysis approaches

The analysis of site search data can be expanded in many directions. It is most expedient if the site operator formulates his questions and requirements for the analysis in advance. The following analysis approaches, for example, could result from this:

Which search queries could not be answered satisfactorily?

Unanswered search queries give website and shop owners the excellent opportunity to to create new content or to expand the product range. For this reason, the internal search can also be ideal as a stimulus Creation of new content be used.

EXTRA: 8 content ideas that you can implement immediately

How often are search queries replaced with new ones?

If a user searches several times for a certain thing using various terms, this could indicate that the Search too imprecise and / or gives too many irrelevant results.

How many visitors jump off after using the internal search?

One special sharply increasing number of exits in the internal search can indicate that the internal search is not working. All alarm bells should light up here and appropriate functional tests should be initiated.

How does internal search affect conversions?

If the conversion rate is good, this indicates that the visitors to the site have found what they were looking for using an internal search. So the search works fine. It may be worth considering at this point to expand the website with the corresponding content so that in future the visitors do not even have to use the internal search to get to their destination.

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Conclusion: an analysis that is worthwhile

The evaluation of the internal search can really be worthwhile. Just at larger portals and online shops the number of seekers is naturally high, which means that a lot of new potential can arise almost continuously. For this reason, the analysis of the internal search should definitely be part of the holistic optimization of a website.

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Marvin Mennigen is an online marketing consultant and owner of web-malocher. The company covers a wide range of web services and specializes in search engine optimization, web analysis and web development. The focus of the consultation is on SMEs of various industries and sizes in order to optimize their online presence.