Find Out What Your Blog Readers Really Want With Google Site Search

Many of the website analytics we use tell us quantitative things – how many people are visiting our blogs, what they read, how much the read, and on and on. However that's only 50% of what we need to know to make our blogs more effective business tools. The other 50%? Qualitative data.

Qualitative data tells us the why, which isn't always easy to figure out. One step in the right direction is using Google Site Search inside of Google Analytics.

Google Site Search tracks what people are searching for on our sites. And not only that, it can tell us if they didn't find what they were looking for with their first query! That's rock your socks off kind of stuff.

This helps me (and you once you enable this) to better understand exactly what information people are looking for. It's actionable information! Once you know what people are really trying to find you can make it more predominant either in the navigation or a sidebar. Makes my wet toes tingle.

Now I know that there are some online marketers telling you to get rid of your search box. There are valid reasons for that. However knowing what people really want to know on your site is much more valuable than simply what they did see.

This is insight you need to have.

How to get it? Log in to your Google Analytics account and follow the two simple steps below.

Step 1 – Edit Your Profile

  1. Select your website
  2. Click the Admin button in the top right
  3. Select the Profile Settings tab

Like so…

Google site search for WordPress - Step 1

Step 2 – Set Up Site Search

If you're using WordPress this is easy peasy. Scroll down and you'll see the Site Search Settings section. Do the following:

  1. Select Do track Site Search
  2. Enter in “s” for the query parameter -only the letter, not the quotation marks

Here's a nifty image that shows you what to do:

Google site search for WordPress - Step 2

Step 3 – Wait For The Awesome

This is perhaps the least fun part. From what I've seen Google Analytics won't go backwards in time – this setting, which is NOT on by default, is a this point forward kind of thing. So, put your search box in the widget area of your site and get those insights!

Do You Use Google Site Search?

Have you been using site search on your blog or website (or both)? Has it helped you gain more insight into what your visitors are really looking for? Or are you one of those folks who took the search box off of their site?

Let's talk about all that in the comments below. See you there!


  1. Hi Robert,

    I have never used google site search, but what you’re describing sounds like a very powerful feature.

    I’m going to look at it right now.

    Thanks a lot,

  2. I do have site search on my blog, but not on my website. It’s a consideration.

    • That’s the set up here too. If you have a very content heavy website then search makes sense. Otherwise it might not, unless it’s easy to add it. For a blog it’s definitely a must have.

  3. Hi Robert, I wasn’t sure if I had this set up or not and as soon as I saw that it was turned on I remembered that I got that tip from Ana Hoffman awhile back. 🙂
    In the last month there were only 130 searches and you can just imagine the many of them are one offs. Some of the searches are kind of amusing though like for example “Best Laundry Detergent” and “academic editor”. One recurring theme is AdSense, which I don’t have much information on so sounds like I have a new writing assignment for the weekend.
    Thanks for the post Robert. I totally forgot to check these reports in Google Analytics.

  4. That’s certainly an awesome tip, to check what you’re readers are actually looking for on your website. This way you can work on to improve your lead conversion and sales.

  5. Robert,

    This is really some killer stuff. The more you know about your customers and potential customers and what people are really looking for, the better off you will be. Some great lessons here, man!

    As Always,


  6. You also mention some suggest getting rid of Search Box…
    What would motivate that backward advice?
    Am I missing something in delivering information?

    • One technique I’ve seen is to remove the site search and instead create a number of roadmap pages that link to areas of your site. As an example, I could create a “Blogging” page, add it to my navigation, and then link on that page to a number of helpful and popular posts on blogging.

      The point with that technique is to send the visitor only to where you want them. It’s one way to do it and something to test out. However it won’t give you the qualitative information.

  7. What other query parameters do you suggest?
    I assume the “s” stood for search,correct

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