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In Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a web site, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness. This course covers the out-of-the-box functionality, from account creation to reporting fundamentals, and explains how to glean insights from the vast array of data available.
We have tools in our analytics tool belt that will tell us what happened, but very few that will tell us why. To us analysts, user intent is the elusive holy grail that we are always searching for, and I am a huge fan of internal site search because it sheds a little light on that fantastic combination of not just what they did, but why they did it. Let's back up a little bit and talk about exactly what we mean when we say internal site search. We are not talking about a search engine, such as a Google.com search that you would access from up here in the toolbar. Internal search engines are the search engine that searches just the content inside your own site.
For example, here in the Google Store, it's here where it suggests we enter a keyword or item number. If I did a search here for say, android t-shirt, it's going to search just the Google Store for those items. Now it does get a little confusing because Google also powers the back end of many internal site search engines, either through actual hardware computers that you put in your network or through software known as the custom search engines, such as the one we use here on the webShare site. You can see that here even that it says Google Custom Search, this is definitely an internal site search engine and not a Google.com search of the overall web.
Now it's important that we make this distinction clear, not just from a usability point of view, but for us as analysts, because while a Google.com search may have brought you to this site, what you search for once you're on the site tells us a different story altogether. In fact, an interesting trend is that external searches has often had nothing to do with internal searches, even from the same user, because they are trying to accomplish very different things. An external search is about locating a web site that will serve the general need, if you need to buy Google-branded gear to find the official Google merchandise store.
But once you get to the store, you are going to type in something specific, like "Flashing Yo-Yo" or "kickball" or perhaps even an android bike jersey, but you are going to be searching for things that are only inside the store, not trying to locate the store itself. And the same logic applies for more generic searches. Let's say we do a Google search for google consulting services. In this case, you are probably looking for a company that offers Google consulting services. But once you arrive on their site, you'll likely to look for something more specific, such as AdWords management or pricing or something else that relates specifically to the product itself, not the general company as a whole.
The Site Search reports will extract an amazing amount of information about how these searches affect your site. Let's take a look. Here in the Overview page we'll see the key metrics about those visits that contained a search, and it will also help us answer important questions such as, How do visitors who searched compare to those who didn't? Which search terms did visitors use? And insightful things like, where did they start their search and what did they find? So what if you don't have an internal site search engine, did you care about all this? Absolutely, and we need to look no further than the Usage report to see why you might want to reconsider that.
Here we see an example of report showing us how many visits utilized the search functionality, and the results are fairly typical, at around 25%. However, as we switch away from just visits into something more interesting, like Goal Conversions, we see results that are also very typical. The majority of our goal conversions come from people who used site search, despite the fact that they were much smaller percentage of traffic. Site search is very important to conversions, which are important to us, so these reports we will want to pay special attention to and if you don't have a site search engine, you may want to consider putting one on your site.
As you can see, internal site search is very important to conversions, which are very important to us, so these are reports we'll want to pay special attention to.
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