Website visitors want to find information fast and easy. When users can't find the information they're looking for on a website, they often turn to the on-site search function. The Google Analytics Site Search feature allows us to view the keywords visitors typed into the on-site search box on your website. By analyzing these keywords, we can discover the information users were looking for, but couldn't find. This data can help CVBs take a fresh look at their website to make sure navigation is clear, and that the content visitors are looking for is available.

Visitors search and come to a website for three reasons.

1) to learn something

2) to be inspired

3) to answer a question.

If they cannot find these things, easily and quickly, they will leave.

By viewing site search keywords regularly, CVBs can add content and/or navigation based on these searches.

For example, Destination CVB has an upcoming annual event and wants to make sure the content page will answer all questions about the event. One way to discover what visitors were looking for is to view keyword data in Google Analytics with the dates leading up to the event from the previous year.

In Google Analytics change the date to the date range prior to last year's event. Go to Content |Site Search | Overview to view keyword data.  

Unique Searches and Percent Search Exits

This area of the Site Search helps you understand keywords that are being searched for but can also show what doesn't work by the % Search Exits. A high percentage indicates the need for more relevant results (i.e. your site might not have the content a visitor is looking for). This is similar to bounce rate, where visitors leave after viewing one page.

Results Pageviews / Search is the number of times visitors viewed a search results page after searching.

SEM Blog Site Search


Frequency of Visitors Using Site Search:

This is an excellent metric to determine how many visitors actually use site search while on your site. Go to Site Search | Usage to view the percentage of visitors who use the site search function. By clicking on "Visits With Site Search" and clicking on a Secondary Dimension, you can delve deeper into how the visitor got to the site.

SEM Blog With-Without Site Search



  • 1) Review Site Search keywords in Google Analytics over different periods of time. If you see patterns of keywords that don't have content, develop a content strategy to address the keyword.
  • 2) Conduct sample Site Searches from a new visitor perspective and analyze the search results.
  • 3) If you have an upcoming event you need to write content for, while in Site Search Overview in Google Analytics, change the date range to a three or four month period from last year and see what visitors were searching. Use this data to update content or to consider a new content strategy.
  • 4) Analyze results from Site Search to be utilized on Rankings Report or a PPC campaign.


If you do not see Site Search terms being stored in your Google Analytics account, let us know so we can help you install it so you can better analyze your website traffic.


Kristen Lodge is a Search Engine Marketing Analyst for Simpleview. For questions regarding this post, visit our "What We Do' page to learn more about our SEM services.