Internal Search Term Click-Through & Exit Rates
Recently, I was re-reading one of Avinash Kaushik’s older blog posts on tracking Internal Search Term Exit Rates and realized that I had never discussed how to report on this using Omniture SiteCatalyst. In a past Internal Search post, I covered many different things you can do to track internal search on your site, but did not cover ways to see which terms are doing well and which are not. In this post I will share how you can see this so you can determine which search terms need help…
Why Track Internal Search Term Click-Through & Exit Rates?
So why should you do this? In the era of Google, we are all slowly being trained to find things through search. Many of my past clients saw the percent of website visitors using search rise over the past few years. In addition, Internal Search and Voice of Customer tools are some of the few out there where you can see the intent of your visitors. Unfortunately, most websites have horrible Internal Search results which can lead to site exits. In my previous Internal Search post I demonstrated how to track your Search Results Page Exit Rate, but that only shows you if you have a problem or not. If you do have a high Search Results Page Exit Rate, the next logical step is to determine which search terms your users think have relevant search results and which do not. Note that this is not meant to show you which terms lead directly to website exits, but rather, which terms cause visitors to use or not use the search results you offer them after they search on a particular term.
How Do You Track Internal Search Term Click-Through & Exit Rates?
Ok, so how do you do this? Follow the following implementation steps:
- Make sure that you are setting a Success Event when visitors conduct Internal Searches on your website. Hopefully you are already doing this so in many cases this step will be done!
- Make sure that you are capturing the Internal Search Term the visitor searched upon in an eVar variable. Again, you should be doing this (if not, shame on you!).
- Here is where we get into uncharted territory. The next step is to set a new Success Event when visitors click on one of the items on the search results page. Depending upon the technology you use for Internal Search, this could be hard or easy. Regardless of how you actually code it, the key here is to set the second Success Event (I call it Internal Search Results Clicks) only if visitors click on a search result item (not if they click on a second page of search results or go to another page through other navigation). It is also critically important that you only set this Search Results Clicks Success Event once per search term! Do not set it every time a visitor clicks on one of the search results after using the “Back” button. If you don’t do this correctly, your Click-Through and Exit Rates will be off. This could take a few iterations to get right, but stick with it!
- Once you have both the Internal Searches and Internal Search Results Clicks Success Events set, you can create a Calculated Metric that divides Internal Search Results Clicks by Internal Searches to see the Internal Search Click-Through Rate as shown here:
- From there you can create the converse metric which subtracts the Internal Search Click Through Rate by “1” to come up with the Internal Search Exit Rate as shown here:
- After this is done, you can open the Internal Search Term eVar report and add all three metrics so you see a report like this:
In this case, it looks like the “Zune” Internal Search term might need some different search result content as it has a much higher exit rate as the others. Another cool thing you can do is to create a report which trends the Internal Search CTR % or Exit % for specific Internal Search terms so you can see if they have been good/bad over time. Also, if you use SAINT Classifications to group your Internal Search Terms into buckets, you can see the report above for groups of Internal Search terms. If you vote for my idea in the Idea Exchange, you would be able to set SiteCatalyst Alerts to be notified if your top Internal Search Terms have spikes in their Click-Through or Exit Rates. You can also segment your data to see how the Internal Search rates differ when people come from Paid Search vs. SEO, etc… and even use Test&Target to try out different promotional banners on your search results page…
Finally, don’t forget that when you create a new calculated metric like the Internal Search CTR % metric described above, you also get the bonus of seeing this metric across your entire website under the My Calc Metrics area of the SiteCatalyst toolbar. Simply find this new metric and click on it and you can see your overall Internal Search Click-Through Rate regardless of internal search term. Your report will look something like this:
For The True Web Analyst Geeks
If you were bothered when I mentioned above that you should only set the Search Results Clicks Success Event once per search term, then you are my kind of person (please apply for a job with me!)! You were probably saying to yourself: “If I only count once per search term, how will I know which search terms get visitors to click on multiple search result links?” Right you are! That could be valuable information. If you want to see that as well, all you have to do is set a second Success Event each time a visitor clicks on a search result [I call this Internal Search Result Clicks (All)]. Then you can compare how many times people click on any search result to how often click in total. Here is a sample report:
In this example, you can see that the search term “api” had one click only in either scenario, but the search term “chatter” had people click on it 100% of the time and 5 times they clicked on two search result items. If you want, you can create another Calculated Metric that divides the Internal Search Result Clicks (All) by the # of Internal Searches to see how many search result clicks each term averages. In the case of “chatter” above, it would be 2.25 search result clicks per search!
If Internal Search is important to your site, make sure you are tracking it adequately so you can improve it and increase your overall website conversion. Do you have any other cool Internal Search tracking tips I haven’t covered? If so, leave a comment here…