What to Look For in Onsite Search Analytics

What to Look For in Onsite Search Analytics
Posted by Attraqt | 3 February 2022

Learn the key metrics to look out for when tackling your search analytics.

By Charles Barsley — Senior Digital Analytics & Optimisation Manager at Selfridges

I’ve used Attraqt Fredhopper now for over three years, in two different companies. Perhaps uniquely, my roles have covered being both the Fredhopper “Subject Matter Expert”, and my company’s Digital Analytics Manager.  Fredhopper asked me to discuss how I have brought these two roles together.  My aim is to promote the use of analytics for the optimisation of onsite search with Fredhopper.

In this first blog, I’ll discuss the specific things you should look for in your analytics. In blog 2, we’ll explore advanced onsite search tagging.

Search can be the most important area of an ecommerce site, but in my experience, it is also the last area companies invest time in. It was with this in mind that I share the below tips for what you can review in search.  Whether you just have 15 minutes at the end of a Friday, or you are looking to take your search analysis to the next level, hopefully you’ll find some useful insights here.


Defining the power of search 

First: what do I mean when I say that search can be the most important area of an ecommerce site? Search is often the only area in which your customers get to tell you what they want! There’s a lot to be gained by reviewing what users search for. Firstly, a customer who searches has a purpose. They’re not just browsing. In fact, on average, shoppers who use search in an online fashion shop convert at least twice as much as those who don’t search. So a well-optimised search will be more likely to result in a sale. Secondly, search can help you stay ahead of changing trends and user demands.


Get back to the basics — most searched terms

There are a lot of different ways to optimise search, and you likely won’t have time to tackle them all at once. If you can only do one thing each week, review the list of your top searched terms, and search them yourself.  Look at your site through your users’ eyes. Are the results what you would expect to see?  Some of these keywords probably have enough searches to put them into the top 100 pages on your website. So they are important pages on your website which may be overlooked.  Often, by viewing these pages yourself, you’ll find quick wins to improve the experience.

You may discover inaccuracy in the use of synonyms, a lack of prioritisation in sort order, or there may be a better place to redirect the search. Try to keep a record of which search terms you have checked, so that the following week you check a different set of terms.  But since search results change over time, start from fresh every so often.


Follow the money

Once you’ve got this right, examine your highest revenue searches. There’s a lot to understand from these, but the golden question is: “Why are these searches generating the highest revenue?” For many, they may just have the highest search volume. But others will have a surprising conversion or Average Order Value. For these, it’s beneficial to understand why they are working. Is the category / non-search journey working as strongly? If not, why not?  Could you take action on this finding, for example by targeting the area with Marketing Support to drive even more traffic to these terms?


Unlock the opportunity

Exploring the points above should give you great insight into your customer and what is working for them on your site. However, as Fredhopper have shown there is a long tail of searches that you will still be missing. There are several ways that you can filter the search report to reveal gems that you might be missing by only focussing on the highest volume and value searches.

  • High Conversion, Low Volume — Searches that convert into sales but are low volume are opportunities to share with the marketing team. Are these terms part of the offsite marketing efforts?  If not, it’s worth building a PPC campaign around these and try to drive traffic on these terms.  Also, explore the alternatives. If the customer didn’t use search, how would they find these products?  Is this an opportunity to set up a new category?  Or could the existing category be improved to drive more SEO traffic?

  • High Volume, Low Conversion — Here is the opposite problem. Highly searched phrases that don’t often convert into a sale. These areas need your intervention to optimise them. As before, explore your synonyms, prioritisation of sort order, or better places to which to redirect this search.  Sometimes though, it’s not the sequencing order, it’s the range available.  Are customers of both genders searching for a brand, but you only sell them women’s line and not the men’s?  Sharing this insight with your buying teams could help influence decisions for future buys.

  • Zero Search Results — Do you accurately track zero search results?  I have seen several analytics implementations that do not track this correctly by default. Reviewing zero search results could provide a wealth of information that you can capitalise on.  There will be many misspellings or synonyms that could easily be resolved to provide an easier user journey.  Other terms that justifiably return zero results can be fed into the buying team: they show directly what your users expect you to be selling online.  This could help you drive an increase in your online range to match your stores, or could help buyers select new brands and trends to buy into. And don’t forget OR matches: those that return alternative results because the searched item isn’t sold in your shop. Those should be classed as zero searches, too. If you show your customers a result, but it was only an OR match, you should track this as a zero search, since it will require review.

  • No-Conversion Searches — Closely connected to zero search results are search results which result in a 0% conversion. You may have picked up on these when reviewing “High Volume, Low Conversion” items. But paying special attention to these can again help you understand the ways in which you are not meeting the customer’s needs.

  • New Search Terms — Depending on the market in which you operate, it may be beneficial to review new search terms. A simple way to do this is to filter any terms that were searched this week, but not last week.  In a fast-moving industry, this will give you visibility of new trends, brands, seasonal products that customer expect to find.

  • Entry Rate — To help you understand the intention of a search, take a look at entry rate. Many searches may not be searches at all, but other websites deep-linking to your search page, or even your own marketing activities directly linking to a search result.  Is this a search?  Well, ultimately, this is a page view on the site, so you shouldn’t discount users who enter the page because they didn’t actually type into the search field.  In many ways, this is even more important, because it is their entry page, and therefore their first experience of your brand.  But knowing this will give you more context into why search conversion is strong or poor, and if you see a high exit or bounce rate.

Fredhopper makes it easy to analyse and improve your search. But it still requires your insight and action to make it work. As one of the most important areas of your site, it shouldn’t be one that gets the least amount of your attention.

Ready to take the next step? Read my blog about how Fredhopper can help with advanced tagging.

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