Internal site search is essentially a search bar that is located on your website which allows people to search for information within your website. Over time this bar tends to show what is “broken” with your website. Often when individuals design websites and optimize web pages, they optimize the pages for external search not internal search; this is an important distinction to note.
When individuals search via a search engine, they are more often than not, searching for a relevant site. But when users search via an internal search bar, they are searching for a specific piece of information on a particular topic.
Internal searches help reveal what the “true” intent of a visitor on your site which can be used to make your web pages more accessible and more userfriendly. If for one of the top five key phrases in an internal search, you note that the customer types in support page or support portal and you do not have one, you can see that your customer is demanding that you do offer it.
To Optimize an Internal Search:
- Identify & measure your top keywords and top key phrases (2 or more keywords). Check this information regularly and note down if there are any key phrases for things you put on your website or for things that you do not yet have. For example, people are searching for Google Android and you are a reseller of phones but you do not yet carry it.
- Use the site overlay option in Google Analytics to see what links customers click on when presented with the results of their internal search query. This will give you a good idea of whether or not potential suspects are clicking on the links that you deem to be important (and which they might very well deem to be unimportant).
- Also use the site overlay option in Google Analytics to measure the exit rates of the links presented by the internal search query. If a high percentage rate is shown for these links, you will want to update or remove these links and replace them with more relevant links. If it is low, then think of how you can get it to go lower.
- In Google’s engine there is an autocompletion feature. You type in a word and it shows you what’s the best bet or the closest possible relevant match. You can do the same to your internal search, just make sure you measure the effectiveness of those best bets on a regular basis using the above-mentioned methods.
- If you wish to purchase an internal search, who better to get it from than Google? The options are Google Site Search, Google Mini, & Google Search Appliance. Search for the best fit and talk to their customer service, do not automatically buy the most expensive one.