What is Internal Site Search?
More than likely, you’ve encountered a website with functionality that enables you to search for something specific within the site. Amazon, eBay & YouTube rely on a perfectly optimised internal site search to deliver perfect results to their users search queries. In this article we’re going to take a look at 5 great tips to optimise internal site search.
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Now, let’s scale down a little and look at internal site search on smaller scale, and consider websites that experience more day-to-day competition than the powerhouses companies. Say you own a carpentry business, your service offering is around 5 or 6 services and your websites has a dedicated landing page for each service you offer.
The likelihood is you’ve got some content on each of those landing pages and you’re trying to target a couple of keywords on each page. That’s great, and if done correctly you will see some results. You’ll likely capture some traffic from users searching for those individual services & generate some enquiries. However, it’s also likely that some users will land on either a service page or the homepage, and not sure where to look. Providing an optimised internal site search feature for these users provides a solution to their problem.
How to Optimise Internal Site Search
1. Site Search Tracking in Google Analytics
When it comes to digital marketing, ensuring a data driven approach is essential. Talking about internal site search specifically, the first step you should take is make sure that you’re capturing data from your internal site search within Google Analytics or a similar analytics platform (but Google Analytics is definitely preferred).
If you’re already capturing this data but are unsure what to do with it, that’s where we can help. Take a look at the Site Search report within Google Analytics and significantly expand your date range. Straight away you’ll see a list of search queries that users have entered on your site. If you look at this data carefully, you’ll typically begin to see patterns in your data and you can start to pick out the keywords that are relevant to services you already provide.
For more information on how you can setup internal site search tracking, consider using this helpful guide from Google.
2. Use Site Search Data to Inform your Content Marketing
The information that you get from your site search data report will tell you a lot about your target audience, who they are, what they are searching for and, most importantly, what is working for your business and what isn’t. This will immediately lead to a lot of clarity in terms of what your content marketing strategy should be.
Once you’ve looked through the data captured by the site search report in Google Analytics, you can start thinking about implementing those keywords, phrases and queries into your service landing pages or homepage. You could even create informational content such as blog posts, articles and guides. This will give your users a good result when they next use the search feature on your site. You may even find an untapped service area currently not within your offerings that you’re able to provide at not much extra effort.
3. Redirect Popular Search Queries to The Exact Landing Page
The purpose of this tip isn’t to yield any immediate SEO results, you’ve got to look beyond that. The purpose here is to improve the front end user experience for your customers, limit their options and provide them with the path of least resistance that results in them submitting an enquiry, purchasing a product or booking a demo with you.
For every search a user inputs on a website, a unique URL is created and that is used to identify that search query. We can take these URL’s and implement redirects to pages we believe the user is looking for, based on their search input. For example:
Searching for “bathroom wall tiles” on a Kitchen Suppliers website would return a URL similar to: yourdomain.com/?s=bathroom+wall+tiles or yourdomain.com/?q=bathroom+wall+tiles. If the kitchen suppliers website has a landing page already setup for bathroom wall tiles, it would make sense to redirect the search URL (yourdomain.com/?s=bathroom+wall+tiles etc) straight to the bathroom wall tiles landing page.
Thus, you can create a truly well optimised internal site search. As we said, this tip isn’t about yielding any measurable SEO impact, but about helping your customers “click less” to find a solution to their query.
You may need support from a web developer to help you implement these redirects.
4. Use Related Keywords to Improve Your Keyword Strategy
Search Engine Optimization is always going to pay dividends no matter the digital marketing strategy that you have, so use the search terms in order to figure out which keywords are the best ones to have a lot more traffic and a lot more reach for a wide variety of people.
This is particularly important if you have a very niche website in terms of content because it is paramount that you become able to reach that particular target audience.
5. Test your Site Search Functionality
Functionality testing is an essential aspect of any digital marketing project because it can give you the necessary results to measure your performance and KPI’s.
When testing your newly optimised internal site search, the type of search that is used will have an impact on its success, whether that be autofill or predictive text, for example. In addition, how the site search is displayed in terms of design and also where it is displayed on the site. How easy to access the site search is key. Where is it best displayed on the site? Header, footer sidebar or off canvas? These are all considerations you’ll have to make, and possibly test in a A/B Split campaign. The process is long, but the outcome is always worthwhile.
So, test your website, test all the different pages that you have there, ask questions, make healthy criticism and put yourself in the user’s shoes to understand if this internal site search is delivering the goods