Analyzing internal website search data can provide a gold mine of information pertaining to your users. It tells you what your users are looking for (in their own words) and helps you determine if users are able to successfully find what they're looking for.
If your website has more than 5-10 pages, it should definitely have a search feature. If a search feature can't be easily developed, consider using Google's Custom Search product.
Once a search feature is integrated with the website, you can start to gather information using Google Analytics. We recommend that each month, you review the data in the following areas:
This report will tell you what the most popular search terms were for a given time period. For each of these terms, try the search yourself on your website. Does it bring up relevant results? If not, you may need to make some adjustments. If you don't have content on your website that matches these search phrases - add it! Your users are telling you about information they're trying to find or products they're trying to purchase.
This report tells you what pages users are searching from. Are they searching from pages you'd expect them to? If not, it could be a sign that users are frustrated and unable to find what they're looking for.
This metric shows the percentage of users that perform a search and leave the site directly after searching. The lower the percentage, the better, and you should be comparing this number over time to continually improve your user experience.
Results Pageviews / Search
This metric shows the average number of times a visitor viewed a search results page after searching. If this number is more than 1 or 2, it could mean that users are having a hard time finding what they're looking for when using the search tool.
To Sum It All Up
Reviewing site search data is a quick and easy way to make sure your users find what they're looking for and to increase business on your website. By spending just a little bit of time each month reviewing the data and making some tweaks, your business can realize some big gains.