What’s Bad for Users is Very Bad for Business

When asked, “do you have a search engine on your site?” everyone nodded in agreement, but when followed up with, “do u analyze the search queries?” only a few proud people were left still raising their hands. It seems like such a no-brainer, but traditional analytics focuses so much emphasis on traffic metrics that valuable search data can often be overlooked.

Analyzing a site’s search queries is a way to learn what your users want from you IN THEIR WORDS. Here are some ways it can be used:

· Looking at local search data on your site can improve paid search keyword efficiency. The phrases your consumers are using to refer to your content will likely be cheaper than the generic industry keywords we’re programmed to buy.

· Metadata is used to describe a site’s content, but who is it usually written by? Developers, copywriters and pretty much everyone except the people actually using the site. Meta tags should be influenced by how users are describing site’s info, which can be found through search queries.

· Another simple concept: look up your site’s top search queries and then view the results. Are you actually providing them with the information they’re looking for? If not, you’ve got a big problem. Make sure your content is tagged properly. To improve search results, do a better job of teaching employees and users how to tag keywords.

· I can’t be the only one who has seen an epic battle over homepage content. Did you stop to look at the search queries from the homepage to drive that decision? Me neither. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to priority and design so use data to state your case.

· Don’t forget about the seasonality of search data. You might assume that your customers wait till September to start checking out the fall line, but you’re actually getting searches for it starting in August. So much of testing is done A/B when it could have been found in search data.

· Analyze queries by audience segment. Maybe a keyword isn’t searched very much overall, but for one segment of your audience it’s repeatedly something they’re having trouble finding.

· The more rare, unique queries are a great tool for predicting content needs or editorial direction. They can even guide what kind of products you should start carrying.

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