Creative Uses For Google Site Search

Clive Lobo

Collecting as much information about your site visitors in a common format provides you with the data you need to make accurate business decisions about your internet marketing.

The folks over a the Google Analytics Blog recently posted about creative uses for the Google Site Search feature. What makes this tool so useful is that the search data is integrated in your Google Analytics account. Now you can view the data from visitor searches on your site alongside your analytics

One of my favorite implementations of Google Site search is combining the traditional data collect from analytics with very specific site search data. In effect this gives you unlimited “User-Defined segments”.

Here is what they wrote:

If you’ve been using Google Analytics for a while you may well have run into the fact that, currently, only one user-defined segmentation cookie value can be set at any given time. There are plenty of “alternative methods” to try and work around this reality one way or another. And note: this should not be confused with the recently released Advanced Custom Segments tool which is extremely powerful and can be used to create any number of custom segments. The user-defined and advanced segments features work as they are designed: however this method provides an additional way by which you can further extend your use of Google Analytics.

The Scenario

Let’s say that you want to classify your visits by expressed industry and product interest based on the input of a form. Using standard user-defined segmentation would not work for this as it would only support industry or product interest. However with creative Site Search analysis, an unlimited number of “industry” and “product” interests can both be tracked for each session. A practical use of this would be tracking responses on a lead generation or sign-up form that had check boxes or select options for “Industry” and “Product”.

How to make it happen:

  1. In the example above (tracking fields in a form to create Site Search segments) you’ll need to generate a virtual pageview with a defined Request URI syntax. For this example use:

    pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/custom/lead-form/segment.html?segcat=[segment type]&segterm=[segment value]’)

    Where “segcat” is the identifier for a Site Search “category”, “segterm” is the identifier for the Site Search “term”, “[segment type] is either “industry” or “product”, and “[segment value]” changes depending on the form field value.

  2. For each industry and product field option on the form, create an “onclick” element that calls the pageTracker script with the corresponding values for “segment type” and “segment value” defined for that field.
  3. The result will be a “pageview” hit each time a visitor selects a form option. Let’s say you have 5 industries available and 10 products of potential interest, the resulting data would show which industries are most commonly selected and in what order, as well as which products are most desired, and how the products relate to each other via the Refinements report.

Why not use use Event Tracking for this?

It’s a worthwhile question and has some merit, however at the time of this writing, you still need to request access to the Event Tracking beta before you can use it. Furthermore, Event Tracking can’t be used in Advanced Custom Segments or Custom reports at the time of writing, nor does it have the Refinements analysis options and the “start pages” and “exit pages” reporting.

I encourage you to read the entire article and find out even more creative uses for Google Site Search.

Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

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