How to Gain Insight From Search Analytics
You can learn a lot from search query data. Here’s how to get started.
Most businesses are familiar with the potential of Google Analytics. This powerful tool tracks and reports website analytics, providing data on everything from how users found your website to what device they were on when they viewed it. But what most businesses are less familiar with is their own search query logs. You can use this data to uncover incredibly helpful insight using search analytics.
Here’s how it works. Each and every time your users perform a search, they generate valuable data, which lives in a log. Once you learn what to look for, search analytics (also called log analysis) becomes a powerful form of user experience (UX) research, marketing insight and content feedback.
“Search analytics include a lot of information,” explains Timo Selvaraj, Co-founder and VP or product management, “but our customers find these four categories of data the most helpful.”
The most popular queries point to your employees’ and customers’ greatest needs. Sometimes these are predictable; other times they’ll point to changes in demand, whether that’s for new products or fresh information. Monitor top queries closely so you can respond quickly by creating new content, suggesting different content, or stocking fresh inventory when the sands start shifting.
If you use SearchBlox products, you can find more information about log analytics on our documentation page. The Top Viewed Documents Report is especially helpful. “This contains a lot of detail, including the document name, click count, collection name and the query used for the search,” explains Selvaraj.
There are a number of reasons users don’t find what they need when they perform a search query. Sometimes a typo or misspelling is to blame. If that’s the case, ensure misspelling tolerance is working well.
Other times, it’s a question of vocabulary. While your business may provide onshore developers for short-term contracts, your users may be looking for temps who are domestic coders. “You’re both talking about the same thing, but you’re using entirely different words,” says Selvaraj. If you discover a language disparity, talk like your user, not like your team. They are, after all, your target audience. SearchBlox users can configure synonyms with our synonyms feature. (Learn more here.)
Of course, you might simply not have the information your user is looking for. If this is the case, think about whether it’s something you should provide. Perhaps a newly remote team needs onboarding instructions for a tool the enterprise just adopted or a shopper wants to buy a tabletop lamp that makes everyone look better on Zoom. If that’s the case, create the content or build the inventory if that aligns with your strategy.
And, finally, you may need to re-index your site. (With SearchBlox you can schedule automated indexing at regular intervals as well as index collections on demand.)
Natural Language Queries
Your natural queries are often full sentences. For example, “What’s the best cell phone plan for a family of five?” or “How do I refund a customer’s subscription fee?” These sentences are significant because they let you hear the way your users talk. They give you an unfiltered view of your user’s vocabulary. These are the words, topics and challenges you should use to write and organize your own content.
According to Nielsen Norman Group, a UX research firm, these long queries can also be a sign of customer distress (“How can I pay for my prescription if insurance doesn’t cover it?”) or hacking attempts. So consider using a natural language query engine like SearchAI Answers to automate responses and raise red flags.
The query results your users choose to follow are called click-through links. Identifying these helps you identify which search results are most relevant to your users. “With this information,” explains Selvaraj, “you can boost the more relevant results by moving them up the page or creating ‘featured results.’ “ (Learn more about the creation, configuration and display of featured results using SearchBlox here.)
Search analytics give you the ability to peek over your user’s shoulder while they type. Based on what you learn, you can improve everything from your inventory to the user experience. Here are just a few of the improvements you could make:
- Identify content voids
- Add appropriate internal and external links
- Connect content in more intuitive ways using inline links and calls to action (CTAs)
- Add appropriate synonyms to content pages or setup synonyms within collections
- Identify inventory gaps
- Establish partnerships for products and services you don’t/won’t provide
- Fine tune your metadata for search engine optimization.
- Identify breaches and breach attempts sooner.
- Implement and maintain security.
- Create/update product documentation and support pages.
- Redesign your information architecture to create a more intuitive experience.
- Reorganize product categories
- Update the search page, filters and sorting