As Mike Fleming explains on Search Engine Guide, about 80 percent of web use starts with a search. “The bottom line is that people are programmed to use search on the web whether it’s a search engine or a business website,” he notes. In short, visitors are less likely to click links on your website than they are to use your site’s search box to find what they’re looking for.
You can use this behavior to your advantage. According to Fleming, the data from your site’s search box will tell you what your visitors are looking for in their own words. I hope I don’t need to tell you how valuable that information can be when you’re trying to grow your online business.
If you want to benefit from this data, however, you need to collect it. That means you need to make sure your analytics software or service can deliver the data from your site search engine in the form of a report. “The sad thing is that most analytics profile owners are so unaware of site search analytics that they don’t even have data collection turned on (Google Analytics),” Fleming observed.
That’s a real shame, because this data can help you with nearly every aspect of your site and search engine optimization efforts. Are you wondering what areas of content you should branch into or develop further? Keywords used for searching on your website tell you what your visitors want to find. Do you want to make sure your site’s linking structure makes sense? Check what visitors to your site search for after reading certain content pages. Are you thinking about redesigning your site’s navigation or reconstructing its information architecture? Here again, keywords from your site’s search engine provide invaluable information.
You may have to think a little differently about your site’s purpose to make the best use of site search data. Yes, your site is there to make you money, but in order to do this, it must serve your customers. If you can think of your website as a customer service tool first, you begin to understand the true value of your site’s search engine data. The data comes from visitors – potential customers — telling you exactly what they want to find on your site. Give these potential customers what they want, and you could see them return the favor with a boost to your bottom line. Good luck!