Using Site Search Reports to Enhance Web Analytics

Web analytics are an essential tool for managing a website, and packages such as Webtrends and Click Tracks can tell you all kinds of things about how easily your visitors found information, what paths they took to get there, how long they stayed, and how often they returned.

However, one thing these tools cannot tell you is what your visitors did not find on your site. For example, why do all those people land on your home page and then leave?

One way, of course, is to ask your visitors by surveying them. An alternative if you have a site search engine that provides half-way decent reporting is to use its ‘top not found queries’ report.

The information from this can be very useful in going some way to answer this and related questions.

For my day job, I work for a children’s hospital. Looking at our latest top not found queries report I can see that there are a number of searches for “croop” [sic].

Well, we have a lot of health information about “croup” (a type of hacking cough) and so I immediately see that I need to add this misspelling to the keywords meta tag on any pages relating to croup. These pages will now show up on a search for “croop”.

I can also see from this report that there are a number of searches for “flu shots” (flu season is hitting us pretty hard this year).

Again, we have content for this topic, so I need to add this phrase to the keywords meta tag for these pages and also perhaps work with one of our writers to include this phrase in their body content.

In addition, if we didn’t have any content about flu shots at all on our site, I would have a good indication by the number of searches returning no results as to whether we should get some up on the site and how quickly.