Use site search data to find out what your visitors are looking for.
Navigation of web sites is mostly defined by the web designer. You arrive at the home page and click on one of the links that the web designer decided should be on the home page. You go to the next page and do the same thing, and so-on.
But what are your visitors really looking for when they arrive on your web site? The richest data comes from your search box. Your visitor’s searches are their unadulterated explanation of why they came to your site.
Google Analytics lets you dig into what your visitors search for regardless of which site search technology you have. Here’s a look at search data over the past few months on Lakeway.com:
These are the actual search terms people typed into my site, most likely because the visitors couldn’t immediately find what they were looking for. Many of the terms are similar, such as hotel and hotels, so you may need to parse them together to analyze.
This data shows that many of the visitors to my site are looking for Lakeway hotels, and few can find that section. It’s probably placed too many levels deep on my site.
Search refinements is also interesting. It shows how many people ended up searching again after seeing the results. If the number is high for a particular keyword, then people aren’t finding what they’re looking for.
I’m also surprised to see people searching for employment on the site. Lakeway is more of a residential community, but this shows me there may be some potential for a jobs section on the site.
I have more extensive search data on Domain Name Wire. Since the middle of March people have used the DNW.com search box 3,388 times. The top search term is surprising: “Parava”, searched for 275 times.
This has to do with Parava’s de-accreditation and the subsequent transfer of domains to Hover.com. I wrote several articles about the transfer and what was going on. Many of the visitors to DNW probably arrived at one article and wanted to see other coverage. Perhaps I should have placed a notice at the top of the page “Looking for updated info about Parava transfers? Click here.”
The other top terms are VeriSign, GoDaddy, .tel, and global warming. Yes, global warming. You didn’t know DNW covered global warming? I’ll send a free copy of David Kesmodel’s “The Domain Game” to the first person who comments on why so many people are searching for “global warming” on DNW.