Google Analytics: Search Term Report

This post is part of our Google Analytics Reports series. Learn how to utilize and better understand the main reports available in Google Analytics. To be updated with each new report, join our mailing list today by filling out the form at the bottom right.

While reports like the Search Console Query report help you to better understand the external traffic that is referring to your site, the Search Term report does much the same with your internal site search.

This report can help you to better understand how your users are searching within your site. It also provides information around their satisfaction with those results and if it is helping them on their journey.

What’s Included in the Search Term Report

The Search Term report displays your top internal search terms that users have typed into the internal search within your site. The report allows you to see each individual search term entered and how those users performed after entering those searches. The default screen displays the following metrics for each term:

  • Unique Searches
  • Results Pageviews per Search
  • % Search Exit
  • % Search Refinement
  • Time After Search
  • Avg. Search Depth

These all give a great interpretation as to how your search results for each keyword are performing. This can allow you to improve upon your search and better serve your users. Look to the Analysis to Complete section for more details on how to get the most from the search term report.

Difficulty to set up

Difficulty Meter: 2/5 (easy)

In order to take advantage of this report, you must first setup site search to capture into your Google Analytics account. In order to do that, head over to your admin section of Google Analytics, click on your view settings, then scroll to near the bottom where you will find “Site Search Settings”. If this is off, turn it to on. In the query parameter box you will have to insert the parameter (don’t include the ? or the =) that appears in your URL when a users performs a search. See the second photo below for how to locate that.

site search setup google analytics

search query parameter

Where it is located

This report is located under the Behavior tab on the left hand navigation. It is within the sub-heading of Site Search and labeled as Search Terms.

location of search term report google analytics

Analysis to Complete

The search term report is a great stand-alone report inside Google Analytics. While it works well combining it with other information, it is one of the only reports where its data gave give you good insight, strictly on its own. Below try out two great ways to utilize the information within.

1. Leverage the Exit Percentage Metric

Over the years that I have worked with internal search tracking in Google Analytics, one this has always stuck out. The exit percentage and refinement percentage metrics are your best go to areas for improvement.

The exit percentage metric shows the total percentage of times that a term was searched where the result ended in a user exiting the site without taking further action. Understanding what a good percentage is for your site and certain keywords will allow you to see if there may be a problem with your search results on that keyword. The biggest issue here is usually that the keyword returned no search results.

search term exit rate google analytics

2. Follow Up with the Refinement Percentage Metric

Following along those same lines is the refinement percentage metric. This shows you the percentage of searches performed on a keyword that were then refined and searched again in a different way. This shows you that there may not be the best search results for that keyword.

search term refinement google analytics

Pending on how much control you have over your internal search results, changing these can have a large impact on user satisfaction.

Benefit of the All Pages Report

As with most reports the benefits are great and this can help you to improve your internal search performance and user satisfaction. Explore your own ways to utilize this report and if you have any to share, please do so in the comments below.

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