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How to use internal site search to improve content strategy

Your site content should be smartly laid out and easily navigable to allow customers to quickly access the information they need, yet a decent proportion will know exactly what they’re looking for. That makes site search a must-have in helping a large proportion of your visitors, but this functionality isn’t just about making users’ lives easier – it can help you develop your content strategy too. Here’s how.

Harvest data using site search

Depending on the type of company you are or industry you’re in, data collected by your search function can be a brilliant way of identifying and honing content ideas – particularly for PR-led link-building campaigns.

All you need to do is head to Google Analytics and look under Behaviours and Site Search to unearth all sorts of information on search trends within your site.

In a campaign I ran for a private number plate business a while back, myself and colleagues analysed more than four million site searches for personalised plates. In doing so, we discovered the following hooks that news publishers were likely to jump on.

  • As opposed to ‘mum’ or ‘dad’, explicit terms were particularly popular.
  • LFC was the most popular football team within the results.
  • Searches were found to mirror popular trends, with ‘dabbing’ on the rise and ‘reem’ falling precipitously (guess the year!).
  • More affluent areas of London such as Notting Hill and Chelsea were seen to be in the midst of a number plate-based postcode war.
  • Plenty of people were searching for ‘Trump’ and ‘Brexit’-related number plates.

As you might imagine, the Mail Online ran with:

Plug gaps in content using site search

Your site’s search history shows you exactly what users are hunting for, which makes it perfect for understanding the sort of content your customers want to see, the questions they want answering, and whether your site is currently servicing those needs. With this information, you can alter your current content or add new content to satisfy search trends.

All you need to do is head to Google analytics, hit the Search Terms tab, and you’ll find the following:

  • Total unique searches
  • Results page views
  • Percentage of search exits
  • Percentage of search refinements
  • Time after search
  • Average search depth

Using the above metrics, you can work out whether the most popular search activity on your site is satisfied by your content. If the percentage of search refinements is high, customers are not likely to have found what they needed with their initial search. And if the time after search and average search depth both appear as low figures, chances are few results appeared for that user’s search.

To sort these issues, use the above to improve existing pages and create new content that focuses on the right keywords and topics users are craving. If your site is receiving 2,000 monthly searches for ‘Jobs in Headingley’, for instance, but you lack similar content provided within search, you should fill this gap with content such as ‘Everything you need to know about working and living in Headingley’.

What’s more, you can use these Google Analytics metrics to improve user experience too – site search can sometimes show that users weren’t able to locate the information they required as a result of poor navigation.

Do plenty of the above and you’ll likely see an increase of time on site and assisted conversions, and lowered bounce rates as your site better suits the priorities of your customers.


Site search is just one of the ways to optimise your content strategy and website. Want your content to pack more power and satisfy every customer? Contact our experts today.