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Why your analytics system doesn’t track your website search

You probably use your web analytics system to track visitors to your site, where they come from, where they go, and whether they convert one of your offers at the end of their journey. And if you ask your web analytics vendor, whether it is Google, Adobe, or someone else, they will tell you that their system tracks every page equally well on your website. But there is one that it doesn’t track so well–your website search results page.

Now, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with your analytics system. It’s just that website search is very specialized, and you need a different approach to capture the right numbers than the way web analytics work. Now, it’s not to say that web analytics systems can’t collect any of the right numbers. If you’ve configured your analytics system properly, it might be able to collect:

  • The number of searches conducted
  • The search terms being searched for
  • Whether the search results were clicked on

There’s just one problem. Time after time, we see that the systems are not configured properly, because it’s quite complicated. Not just on small websites. I see these problems on the largest sites in the world.

Oh wait. There’s another problem. There are a lot more numbers that you need to collect to really understand how well your website. Here are the rest:

  • Whether the search returned search results
  • Whether the right page was found in the organic or curated matches
  • Whether the searcher bounced back to the page

Armed with these numbers, you can measure the effectiveness of your search facility, take actions to improve, and measure how well you’ve done. You can learn the real numbers for your website search if you’re ready to install a specialized system designed to collect website search analytics. [Full disclosure: I serve as senior strategist for SoloSegment.]

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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