Alright, so you’re sick and tired of seeing the dreaded not provided keywords in Google Analytics and need a workaround. Or, you just want to get some good ole-fashioned quality info on your site visitors. Enabling on-site search query tracking is a gosh darn good bet either way.

What’s an On-Site Search Query?

Well – exactly what it sounds like!

This is that little search bar on a website that allows visitors to search specifically in your site for any term. You can see it easily on THIS VERY PAGE – just check out the magnifying glass in the top right, click it, and there’s your search bar. If you don’t have one activated, get one activated! Just ask your coding person, check your hosting site’s apps, or take a look at this thread for html sites.

Why Do I need an On-Site Search Bar?

For one thing, it’s just plain helpful for your visitors. Let’s say they enter on, say, a blog post about on-site search bars, and realize they want to learn more about what YOU have to say about Google SEO. They then can search “google seo” and find all your pages and posts about it.

You can see how this is also golden user data.

Getting Keywords from Visitor Search Queries

If people come to your website, they were clearly interested in whatever the landing page was. If they then search for something from there, that means these things:

  • They read the whole landing page
  • They possibly didn’t get the info they wanted on the landing page
  • They possibly did get the info they wanted, and are now hungry for more
  • They now trust you to supply them the info they want

The last item is the most important one – you now have them hooked! Whatever queries they search for are obviously relevant to your actual visitors, not you “ideal” or “theoretical” visitors. Use this for more content or keyword ideas (but remember how keywords are weighed now).

Enabling Search Analytics

By default, your Google Analytics doesn’t track this – but it can!

Log into Analytics, go to your website, and head to the Admin panel. Go to the View column, then click “View Settings.” Switch “Site Search Settings” to On, and shazaam, it’s ON!

But while it’s off, you’ll need the query parameter. Try it here for an example. Search for anything, and see what comes up. I’ll wait…

On the results page, check the URL. You’ll see something like this (I searched “keyword”):

Between the “?” and the “=” is the query parameter, in this case, “s”. Do that for your site, and enter that parameter in the “Query parameter” box.

And be sure to click the little “strip query parameters” box beneath that so it doesn’t track YOUR searches – you just want to track the visitors. THAT is the goldmine!


Got more on-site search tips? I’d love to read them in the comments!

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