What bloggers need to know about their Search Box
A functioning Search Box with tracking gives you insights into your readers mind and can help with planning and content development as well as reducing the bounce rate
In the penultimate part of our series on Actions to Take to Reduce Bounce Rate, we going to focus on search. NOT search engine optimisation but instead Search on your site. One of the reasons you want to reduce your bounce rate is because a high bounce rate is not great for your site health, your SEO and means that you are missing out on pageviews which if one of your monetization strategies is through advertising is not great news. Searches are a great way to get people moving around your site but you do really need to make it as easy as possible but also track those searches to make informed planning for the future.
Focusing on Search
Why your search box is important?
How to track what people search for?
How to get people using your search?
Why you search box is important?
When we focused on customising our 404 page one of the key parts of that page was to make sure that the search bar was there – so if they landed on the page then you could easily navigate off it and onto the page that they wanted.
But, if you don’t have a search on your site you are missing out on 3 extra ways that you can increase pageviews and decrease that bounce rate.
- People love your work and think that you may have something else that they need so do a search for it
- The post that they come and read doesn’t exactly match what they are looking for but maybe you have something else that will
- They are a regular reader, know that you did something a while ago – head over to your site directly and search for it
Those regular readers, the fans of your site will be some of your key people to focus on building the long-term relationship with – they may have had something in a newsletter, now want to go over and read more so instead of hunting through their inbox they head to your homepage which they may have bookmarked or know off by heart your URL type it in, put in the search they want… then read that – share it so they can find it again, think of something else that they may want to read about and so it continues.
Your search box is also important because it gives you an additional clue to what you are missing on your site. Your readers have an idea of what your site contains, they’ve come to it through a pin, search on google, facebook post or another site on the internet. From that and the first impressions, they have of your site they have an idea of what else you may have on the site because in their minds it’s connected.
With a prominent search box and it set up tracking in your Google Analytics then you can find out some of those insights as people use the search as well.
How to track what people are searching for?
This is one of the easiest things to set up in Google Analytics – it’s not a custom dashboard or shortcut and it provides a WEALTH of information.
Now the number of searches that your site may get isn’t huge – it may only be small but that small number is still valuable data that you haven’t got if you don’t use it. For example on my site I get 0.18% of the pageviews on average a week from searches. That’s searches where my own and my VA’s IP addresses are blocked. Out of those hits there are 10 searches in the last 7 days where I know I have no posts but obviously, someone thinks that I should have so it’s time to add them to my content planning for future months.
How to set up Google Analytics to track searches
- Find what your sites search URL looks like
- Use your own search on your site search for something that you know you have lots of and look at the URL
- For example, a Recipe search on my site comes up with domainnameURL/?s=recipe
- In Google Analytics Click on ADMIN at the bottom left hand of the dashboard
- In the right column click on VIEW SETTINGS
- Scroll down and you will come to the section on Site Search
- Switch the setting to on
- Enter the search query parameter – WHAT!!! – see an explanation below
- Click Save
Your search query parameter is found in the second part of the URL for a search on your site. In the case of my site it always is ?s= followed by what the person searched for. A query in web terms always has some of the same characters involved = and ? so the only part of the search URL that we need is the s – anytime ?s= is part of a URL it will be recorded as a search on the site and we will get some useful tracking information.Moving forward within your Google Analytics you should start to see some data appearing with /=
Moving forward within your Google Analytics you should start to see some data appearing under the Behaviour -> Site Search Tab in the Dashboard.
The most useful for content planning will be your search terms which will provide a table of what people are searching for on your site using your search box. Time to get those searches into your content plan as in your reader’s mind they are content that you should have on your site.
How to get people using your search?
So it’s useful it’s valuable and we want people to use it. It’s one of the reasons that many blog themes have moved the search bar into the navigation or made it as prominent as possible on their search.
BUT without coding how can you make it work for you. What actions do you take to help you reduce your bounce rate, increase your pageviews and content plan for the future?
- Move your search bar as high as possible
- Make it obvious what it is
- If you aren’t using a standard search bar then make sure that the searches are recorded in your site and not as a pop-up that you can’t get any data out of or it opens in a new window. In the case of search it really isn’t benefiting your site or your planning doing this.
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