What Site Search Can Tell YOU!

Digital Marketing Tutorial Blog
Dave Ingalls
August 27, 2009

Do you have a Site Search function on your Web site? If not, here’s what you’re missing!

In addition to publishing this Internet Marketing Course Blog and the accompanying Digital Marketing Tutorial, I oversee several technical products B2B Web sites for my company. Our main Web site highlights our major product line and a smaller “micro” Web site was created to highlight a companion product line.

I recently added Site Search to the main Web site and when I looked at what visitors were searching for on THAT site, I was completely floored!

Before we get into Site Search, let’s make sure you already have a Web analytics program on your Web site(s). I use Google Analytics – it’s free, it’s simple to install, it really works, and for the products we sell, our prospective Customers use Google almost exclusively as their general search engine. How do we know that? Our Google Analytics program shows us that over 50% of our total Web traffic comes to our main Web site from Google organic (natural) searches.

Specifically, you need BOTH an analytics program and a site search program to prove the value of Site Search to YOU.

Our Google Analytics program allows us to “drill down” into the data on visitor traffic, and when we took a detailed look at the keyword phrases Google searchers were using to get to the main site, we saw a number of iterations of our company name pulling in a lot of the traffic (mainly different spellings of the company name). Sounds reasonable.

After the first few days of having Site Search installed on the main Web site, we took a look at the keywords being used to search for information on that site. To my surprise, almost ALL of the site searches on the main site were for part numbers or phrases related to the products on the micro site! And even more unsettling, when I performed those same searches on the main site, the search returned no results! Yikes!

So what was going on? Obviously a number of Google searchers interested in the products on the micro site were searching on our company name to find the main Web site. Once they got to the main site, they then used Site Search to try to find the specific part numbers of interest. And what they got was a dead end!

Long story short, I used a section of the main Web site FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page to list ALL of the various phrases (and then some) visitors were using to try to find the products detailed on the micro site. I also made sure that at least one link to the micro site was showing “above the fold” on the FAQ page. Then I re-indexed the Site Search function on the main Web site.

Now when searches are performed on the main Web site for products on the micro Web site, the FAQ page is retuned in the search results, and when that link is clicked on, a very prominent message on the FAQ page directs visitors to a link to the micro Web site.

Bottom Line: Adding Site Search helped us plug a sizable “leak” in our Web site marketing program because once visitors searched for and could not find specific “micro site” products they were looking for on the main Web site, most of them probably left the site in frustration and we lost potential Customers.

So if you don’t have Site Search on YOUR Web site, you better add it ASAP!