In the the case of our site the vast majority of searches do come after people visit lower level pages in the site. What we can infer is that many users are trying to find what they are looking for by clicking on categories and links and that only when the scent dries up they turn to search. When they do turn to search, the queries are often the trigger words that they were seeking in the page content â€” in other words they are using search to create their own links because the information or links on the page failed them.
What I’ve done is configured my HBX page code used on our internal search template so that it populates one of the custom search variables (you can have up to 4 custom variables in HBX for Internal Search) so that it captures the referring URL. Then I created a Report Builder report in Excel that captures the:
- The keyword
- Referring URL for the keyword
- The count
This report tells me what people are searching for, where the scent dried up and the number of times this is happening. Very helpful for trendspotting and for flagging content and IA changes required.
I also have another report that captures:
- the Keyword
- Link ID (the link they clicked)
- Link Position
This report tells me how well my search results are matching to keywords typed. It’s usually pretty easy to see if they found the “correct” page or the page that will get them the information they were looking for.
I also have a third report that captures the Failed searches. Flags potential content gaps and also often provides some good laughs (you’d be surprised what people sometimes look for).
Note: I came across this idea at UIE Brain Sparks and have expanded on it somewhat. Not a new idea really â€” the Eisenberg’s have been talking about “scent” for ages.