Four practical applications from internal site search

Use the Voice of your Customer to optimize your site

Internal Search is as powerful as it is simple.  Nothing quite tells you visitor intent like the words they type in the search box on your website. This is pure “Voice of  the Customer” in action.

It is like having a special stethoscope to peek into their brain and see exactly what they are thinking and their intent…. and of course it presents to you the fantastic opportunity to apply insights from the internal search data to improve your site.  This is important because the citizens of the internet are becoming ever more accustomed to utilizing “search” to find what they are looking for, rather than using navigation. Especially in the case of complex websites, we get impatient and just type in what we are looking for.  (kind of like pressing 0 to talk to an operator instead of navigating through 8 layers of a customer service phone menu – we want it and we want it now!)   So, hopefully your internal search engine doesn’t stink (most do). Either way, there are a lot of juicy insights you can pull from your internal search reports and put into improving your site and your customer experience.

I’m going to cover 4 actions you can take to improve your site by analyzing your internal search results:

1. Navigation Improvements

Internal search results show you exactly what visitors are looking for, you may find that one (or more!) of your top keywords that shows up is one that you haven’t prioritized in terms of navigation.  Maybe the content related to that keyword is buried in a distant subpage that takes 6-8 clicks to get to.  If there is a critical mass of visitors looking for something that is difficult to find without using search, it would make sense to place the related content in a more prominent location.

2. Add Missing Content

You can add content to better meet visitor need and improve customer satisfaction. Perhaps 100s of visitors are searching for “configuration of PS23” and you don’t yet have a page or a support document for that, so they are searching and clicking and becoming frustrated. So then they call your 800 support # instead and spend 10 minutes chewing out your rep about how they spent an hour looking for help online.  You could develop that page/document with the ROI of saving on support costs and of course improving the customer experience.

3.  Improve Content / Optimize Internal Landing Pages

Since internal search gives us such great insight into visitor intent, we can look at what pages visitors landed on after a particular search and see if our internal search engine is giving them the best page for that particular search.  If not, then tweak it/ modify it / optimize it for your internal SE to make sure it shows up on top!

4.  Expand your product or service offerings

Suppose you the purpose of your site is to sell Print and Document Management Services to small and medium sized businesses in your local area.   Yet you find that there are many searches for Network Management services on your site.  This might be an additional niche to explore.  Or let’s say your website’s niche is “Pet Food” specifically.  You would expect to see some searches for “purina puppy chow” and the like, but perhaps you see an increase in searches for “organic puppy food” or “guten-free dog food.”  You might need to make a call to your distributor to see if they can supply you these products of new customer interest.


As with all things in web analytics, you can always get a much richer story by segmenting the data.  Search is no exception.  You may segment your internal search data by “direct”, “organic”, or “PPC” visitors.  You may segment by country, state, or new, returning, or previous purchase over X amount of $$$ — all with the purpose of finding insight that will allow you to improve the user experience and increase your conversions.   Successful web marketers know that the Voice of the Customer reigns supreme, and smart analysts bring VOC to life.

What are other ideas you have for improving your site and optimization by utilizing your internal site search results?

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  1. Very interesting and makes sense!

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