Onsite search is a topic that has been slowly gaining attention in the web analytics community over the last few years. However, I believe this is one of the most often overlooked areas of rapid and immediate improvement (low hanging fruit) possible for many sites. First, many visitors leverage onsite search as their preferred method of navigating the site. Additionally, the data discovered from analysis of onsite search activity can often provide valuable insights into the motivations of your site's users that could not otherwise be collected and analyzed.
The following discussion will focus on what steps need to be taken to establish a solid set of key performance indicators for evaluating the success of onsite search and to provide an overview of the tools and options available.
Important Measures and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for Onsite Search
Below is a list of measures and KPI's that Stratigent has successfully used in various situations to help our clients optimize their onsite search activities. This list should not be considered to be an exhaustive list nor should it be assumed that everything on this list will apply to all companies. Instead, this list is meant to be a starting point in the process of creating the appropriate measures and KPI's for evaluating your onsite search features:
How to Track
In order to successfully track your visitor's use of onsite search you will need to leverage one of three main methods that are currently available.
In addition to the information above you can check out Hurol Inan's newly published book: "Search Analytics - A Guide to Analyzing and Optimizing Website Search Engines" It approaches the topic from an academic perspective and contains the results of a very insightful survey that was conducted in 2005. Overall, I highly recommend this book as I believe the author and I share a common viewpoint: the optimization of onsite search is often undervalued, despite the fact that it is a highly productive area to focus resources in the quest for a competitive advantage online.
Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.