As an online business owner, you are always looking to bring qualified traffic to your ecommerce website. Understanding what customers do when they arrive to the site is the crucial next step on the often difficult road to acquiring conversions.

To help drive more sales on your online store, the Site Search statistics can provide you with much needed insights to one of the many paths customers take when shopping. Using these insights can help you make meaningful marketing and website changes to tailor to your shoppers.

How to Set Up Site Search in Google Analytics

The first step to the joys of Site Search is to enable this feature in your Google Analytics account. You can do this by going to: Admin → View Settings → Scroll to the bottom and turn Site Search ON. Google Analytics Site Search Setting

In the query parameter box, you can enter the search query parameter used by your site. For example Google’s is “q” as shown below:

google query

Where as Academy’s is “Ntt” as shown below:

academy query

To figure out your parameter, type something into the search bar on your site and it will be defined in your URL similar to the examples above. Once these steps are taken, Site Search will be active! The next step is interpreting the data.

How to Interpret the Site Search Data

In Google Analytics, under Behavior → Site Search, the overview tab has valuable data and it looks like this: site search overview

One can see that 7.82% of visits to the site result in site search. % Search Exits are exits from the site after performing a site search and % Search Refinements is the percent of time a user types an additional search after performing the initial search.

You can also see that mulling is a popular searched term on the site. Using this information, a business owner could spend more time working on the mulling category and product pages by adding more mulling products and adding descriptive text if those pages are void of information. Also, it may be a good idea to test out some nice mulling product images on the home page, which leads us to another benefit of Site Search, the starting page of the search.

Start Page Details Data

Staying on the overview section of Site Search, this can be found by clicking on Start Page as shown below. start page details

From here one can see the starting pages and the respective amount of searches for each starting page. As expected, the top starting page is the home page and based on the top search terms, testing that data on the home page with imagery and text is a good place to begin when optimizing for your customers.

If you want to dig in a bit deeper, you can click into an individual start page and then select the Secondary Dimension as Search Term. From here you can see the start page and each respective search term typed from that page. For example, from the image below of a spice blends category page, if you notice searches accruing in this category for certain products that you don’t carry, if possible it would be in your best interest to increase your inventory.

start page details 2

Let’s take a final closer look at what data is available after a Site Search has been performed.

Search Term Data

Under Site Search → Search Terms, by clicking on one of the search terms you’ll see data regarding what a user does after typing in that search term. search term data

The image above shows a search for popcorn and after clicking on that term one can see the average time spent on the page after the search as well as the average search depth, which is the number of pages viewed after getting results for a search term. Time after Search data is extremely useful in determining how well your products match up to a search. If a customer is searching and bouncing from the site after 10 seconds that’s a fairly clear cut sign that they are not finding what they want. You can also look at this data along with % Search Exits as the two should correspond closely. A high % of Search Exits usually equates to a short amount of Time after Search.


Even though a small percentage of visits to your site may result in a Site Search, valuable information is always available. Customers that come to your site and search within your site often know exactly what they want to purchase, so using the Site Search data in Google Analytics to make sure your store is accommodating those searches can go a long way towards building a successful business.