Top Reports for Site Search (Part 3)

 In Data-driven Marketing, Standard, Web Analytics, Web Analytics Reporting

This is the third and final post of a three-part series on top reports for your site search. As a reminder, they are:

  1. Search Usage
  2. Searches per Search Visit
  3. Top Search Terms
  4. Top Failed Terms
  5. Visitor Segmentation
  6. Top Pages Driving Search
  7. Search Groupings
  8. Success Rate
  9. Micro Step Success Rate

In this post, we?re going to cover the last three items.

7. Search Groupings

This practice refers to grouping of search terms into categories that make business sense. These groupings ought to be done by business people and not necessarily managed by the capabilities of your site search tool or content management solution.

For example, an electronics reseller may want to categorize the terms ?ipod? and ?zune? as the category ?MP3 players? and treat ?ipod case?, ?ipod speaker? and ?ipod armband? as the category ?MP3 Accessories?. We find this practice to be manageable when done in a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel and using the vlookup function.

Why go through this exercise? The answer is because it reveals information about which categories or groupings are most popular among searchers. The information can be used to build a better navigation menu ? one that supports your visitors? interests. So for example, if you find the category ?MP3 Accessories? to represent a large enough portion of your site search traffic, then you can add the category into your navigation menu.

8. Success Rate

Let?s face it. The whole point of implementing a site search is to enhance the user experience towards your business objectives. So if your business objectives is online sales, then site search performance should be assessed using this objective. And if your site goal is to generate leads, then your site search results should be assessed using that objective. Most web analytics tools today will account for this type of reporting. The goal is simply to understand what search terms are converting best so that you can improve your site-wide promotional offerings. Consider the table shown below.

Search term conversion

Simply looking at the search conversion report reveals what products have the better success rate and therefore will provide a higher return when being promoted on your site. So if you?re considering promoting a gaming device on your home page, you can see from the above data that Playstation 3 provides the biggest bang for the buck. Even though its conversion rate is less than Xbox 360, because of its higher price it provides more revenue per search than other products.

The search conversion report will provide you information on what works best ? in terms of conversions and dollar values. However when it comes to providing more insight about the reasons, it can come short. This is why we use micro-conversions so that we gain a deeper understanding into the sales funnel. This is covered in the next point.

9. Micro Step Success Rate

Lets face it. Your visitors don?t buy or fill out a form straight from your search pages. The goal of your site search is not to sell an item, but to help you find it. There is a sales cycle that visitors have to go through. First they have to find the product (this is what your site search is designed to do). Then, they have to add the product to cart, and they?ll have to go through the checkout steps on your site. At each stage, various things have to be accomplished to get the visitor to the next stage.

Let?s go back to the conversion table from the previous example, where the conversion rate for each search term is shown. We can see from the table that the terms ?wii? and ?wii sports bundle? are really underperforming compared to others in their category. Does this means that your visitors are not interested in Wii products? Not necessarily. The best way to find out is to look at the micro conversions for these same search terms. This is shown in the table below.

Search term micro conversion

The micro conversions reveal a very different picture. It shows that in fact the click-throughs from search to product pages for the terms ?wii? and ?wii sports bundle? are higher than those of ?playstation 3? and ?xbox 360?. It is however at the product pages that the Wii products underperform. We therefore need to revisit these product pages, at which point we come across the following scenario, shown below.

Example of out of stock page

These products enjoy a high click-through, but once visitors get to the product page, they?re presented with an ?out of stock? message that stops their progress.

Micro conversions let you see the progress at each step and therefore let you diagnose your site at each step of the way. They make it easier to understand where in your site you should concentrate in order to streamline the site conversion.


Of course, based on your site objectives and site search deployment, you will find some reports more valuable than others, but you should be able to select from the list provided in this series to better optimize your site search. Also, if you need help getting the right reporting dashboard in place, we’re here to help.

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