Google Analytics & Searchandising

I am often asked questions about Google Analytics, often because there is just so much data available that it just ‘blows their minds’.

The trick here is to use Filters to place one set of data for say PPC visitors and another set for Organic visitors into different ‘pots’. You still keep the ‘big pot’ with all the data in it too, but having these subsets of data sure makes it easier to understand.

However, this blog is not about reducing the amount of data in Analytics, its about INCREASING it, but for good reason.

We all know that the First Problem for all site owners is getting people to their site. As many have found, setting up a website and waiting for the people to visit in huge numbers normally has only one outcome, a long wait (and a website covered in electronic dust). No, for all but the luckiest of businesses, a lot of hard work is required to get those potential customers into their site.

But there is a second problem

Getting visitors in is all well and good, but unless you get them to do something (buy or enquire or sign up for a newsletter) all the effort of getting them there is wasted. This “something” will vary from one site to another, but in all cases you want to make it easy for people to find what they want on the site as that is bound to increase the likelihood of them making a purchase or whatever else you want them to do.

The answer is of course the “Search” box. You’ll find these on many sites, and when they are done in the right way, they are really useful. With just a few clicks you can input the term “what do feed rubber ducks on” and be provided with a list of all the pages on the site that are relevant, all without all that tiresome tracking through the navigation and having to scan every page.

Searchandising

The term “Searchandising” is in fact all about the science of implementing these search boxes and the analysis of the data it provides and guess what Mr Google can help with both. For a small fee you can have a Google Search Facility on your site, this being backed by the same powerful search algorithims that Google use all the time. That beats the hell out of most so called search facilities I have come across on more sites than I care to mention – talk about awful!

Google have spent years perfecting their search function, so when you use it you have one that allows for the fact that humans are well, human. They just don’t do things the way a “sensible computer” would. For a start they can’t spell in many cases, and they tend to write as they speak, in other words they may well type in “yelow rubber duks”. Now a system that expects you to type in just “rubber ducks” is going to get really confused here and will probably decide that there is nothing on the site that matches these requirements and come up with an empty search list. Result, the user goes elsewhere and that potential sale is lost, not so with Googles offering.

Listing the Results

With Google you get the results in a way you understand and know, these being rated by relevance and from experience I can say that the small fee you have to pay each year is more than worth it.

The best bit is yet to come though

Search boxes are found on many sites, but that trick that is often missed is to check to see what people have actually typed in / are looking for. If you have this data you can use it to improve the way the site is laid out, e.g. what products are on the first page etc, but beyond that you can also glean a lot of information about visitor behaviour as it tells you what they want, and that can’t be bad.

The data is also very useful for SEO purposes too, as there is a fair chance that any term typed into your internal search engine will be typed into Google and the like. Thus optimising your site for these terms is a great way of getting ahead of the competition.

That best bit

Perhaps the very best bit is that Google Analytics incorporates any on site searches in its database, allowing you to see what people have been looking for, all from that one interface, no extra programming, just DATA.

So what should I do?

Unless you have lots of money to burn, I’d hop off to Google, buy the Search Facility for your site and install the code pronto, its all very easy and if you can’t do it, your web designer can in just a few minutes. Then all you have to do is to tell Analytics to incorporate the data (just a tick in the box being needed) and heh presto, you’ll have lots of lovely new data to play with.

OK you might not want the extra data, but it will help..

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