Site Search Analytics

To create a fully optimized e-commerce search experience – the kind that drives engagement and conversion – you need to know how your shoppers are using search.

You will learn the top queries for your shoppers — actionable intelligence on your shoppers intentions and expectations.

If you’re not already tracking the searches performed on your site, you need to start now. Even if you’re not ready to analyze the search activity, you can just turn on logging now and let it accumulate until you are ready. Once you turn on search logging, you should start a regular review of the logs understand any search trends and also make sure you know your shoppers’ terminology.

Search logs are a super-valuable resource for site search optimization. First, you will learn the top queries for your shoppers — not what you think they are but hard data. This can often be surprising, but more important, this is actionable intelligence on your shoppers intentions and expectations.

Once you know the top queries, you can ensure that, at a minimum, your search returns relevant results for those keywords before tackling the “long tail” of search relevance. Optimizing just the top 100 queries on your site can improve the search experience for as much as 30% of your shoppers.

Looking at the search logs also helps you to build lists of synonyms based on what your users actually search for. For example, you may have products that match “tissue paper” but not “Kleenex”. If your shoppers think in terms of “Kleenex”, you can use synonym expansion logic to include “Kleenex” as a synonym for “tissue paper” even if you don’t carry Kleenex products.

But there’s much more that you can do with your site search logs. By examining what searches are actually performed on your site, you can get a picture of how your customers and visitors perceive your offering. Do the searches they do make sense for your product catalog? If not, perhaps your copywriting needs some tweaks. Which searches turn up “no results”? If you carry that stock, why didn’t the search logic find it? If you don’t, maybe there’s a missing opportunity to cross-sell new products. The search logs are where you find many areas for improvement.

The search terms that drive traffic to your site should be coordinated with the search terms supported by your site.

It’s also important that you understand the interplay between organic and paid web search — the SEO/SEM investment to drive traffic to your site — and the searches shoppers perform once they arrive. The search terms that drive traffic to your site should be coordinated with the search terms supported by your site. Ultimately, you’ll want your search data informing such metrics as search abandonment, search-to-cart and site search click-through rates.

Finally, when you get to tuning your search results to optimize relevancy and business needs, you’ll want a good data framework in place to A/B test changes and for on-going optimization monitoring. Having historical and on-going search logs is part of that data framework.

There’s a lot to say about Site Search Analytics, but the first step is to capture the data. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.