Successful ecommerce merchants and marketers need to leverage all of the available metrics to improve the customer experience. An often overlooked data point, however, is the internal website search results, which are filled with SEO potential.
Using this data to optimize your website for higher search engine rankings is known as “Site Search SEO” – and if you aren’t already using it, now is the time to get started.
Research from 2013 estimated that around 30% of visitors to e-commerce websites used the search function on the website. And since search behavior has evolved since then, the number is likely much higher today.
In other words, by using on-site product searches to educate your ecommerce SEO strategy, you can gain a significant competitive advantage.
If you don’t know where to start with Site Search SEO, we are here to help. In this guide we explain:
- Why internal searches are so important to SEO
- How to view your internal website search trends
- And how to use that data as part of your broader SEO strategy
Why are internal searches important to SEO?
Internal searches show what your customers want to find on your website. They can provide key insights into buying behavior and help you uncover:
- Which products or categories customers are actively looking for on your website
- When customers are looking for specific products or categories
Since search engine optimization in e-commerce puts more emphasis on conversions than traffic numbers (although both are important!), This is how you want to attract that much organic traffic Purchase intent as possible. The data found in your internal search data can be the missing part to accomplish this.
If your SEO efforts are carried out properly, your ecommerce business could:
- Provide an enhanced user experience
- Experience higher click-through rates (CTR)
- Enjoy higher rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs)
- Get more organic search traffic
All of these can help you improve your conversion rate – the ultimate goal.
How to show your internal search trends on the website
It is much easier for ecommerce merchants to understand exactly what your customers want than it is for traditional brick and mortar stores.
All you have to do is set up your web analytics platform, such as Google Analytics, to collect search data accurately and consistently on site.
If you use Google Analytics, do the following:
- After signing in to Google Analytics, navigate to Administrator and click on show settings.
- Scroll down to where it says Site Search Settings. Click to turn it on.
3. Next, enter up to five query parameters in the field that appears when you enable site search tracking. These parameters are appended to the end of your URL when someone does an internal website search. Examples of this are letters such as “q” or “s”.
For more information on setting up site search and query parameters, see this guide from Google.
Once you have completed the setup, you can go to. access the site search data Behavior> Site Search> Search Terms at Google Analytics.
How to incorporate site search data into your ecommerce SEO strategy
Now that you have the site search data, how can you implement it into your larger SEO campaign?
Below we’ve outlined some proven tactics that can produce profitable results for your business:
Create new category pages for top searches.
SEO success largely depends on providing a positive user experience. This means meeting the customer’s expectations and optimizing the buyer journey accordingly.
With that in mind, if you find that your customers are actively looking for a particular category (e.g., go ahead and do one.
This can help you optimize the website search experience for your customers (and possibly even rank for competitive keyword phrases).
How Inflow Site Search Data Used to Improve Itzy Ritzy’s SEO
We took a similar approach when tweaking the SEO strategy of one of our client, Itzy Ritzy – a brand of chic baby products for mothers.
The data showed that customers entered keywords into the website’s search box based on parameters such as print, color, and pattern. However, at the time, Itzy Ritzy did not have separate category pages for such keywords.
We saw this as an opportunity and decided to capitalize on it by creating landing pages that are optimized for these searches.
The final result? One of these category pages (for “leopard print”) began to rank on the first SERP shortly after it was published.
Add typos in keyword search results.
When searching for a specific product or category, a customer may misspell it. In order not to miss this potential sale, make sure that typing errors in your internal search function still produce relevant results.
For example, if a customer types “dining table” instead of “dining table”, they should still see results for the dining tables you have for sale on your website (as you can see in the Wayfair example below).
You can spot common product or category errors by looking at your website search data in Google Analytics.
Examine the keywords for which you are ranking.
If website search data shows that a lot of people are looking for products that you don’t have, it is an indication that something is wrong with the traffic you’re getting.
This usually happens when you start ranking for crooked or irrelevant search terms.
Use an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs to see the full list of keywords you are ranking for and pick out the ones that are unrelated to you.
How to gradually stop the ranking for them:
- Modify the copy of the page in question and remove unwanted keywords from the title / meta tags, meta descriptions and alt text.
- Do some keyword research to find relevant searches (preferably high volume searches) and instead optimize your page for those.
- Optimize your e-commerce content strategy and consolidate your specialization and / or your sales with high-quality content assets.
If organic search traffic isn’t the culprit, poorly optimized paid search campaigns can be another reason for irrelevant searches on the website. Check them to see if they are set up correctly and clean up any keywords that you don’t want.
Remember: not all irrelevant search terms indicate a bad strategy. If your website sells a large number of products, customers can come to your website for a reason – and look for a different brand that they think you stock based on the products you already have. This is usually nothing to worry about, but we recommend keeping an eye on these search terms just in case.
Decide if you want to index internal search results pages.
An internal search results page is a web page that is generated when someone searches for something on your ecommerce website. It has a unique url that can look like this:
When unchecked, these pages may be indexed by search engines.
“But isn’t the indexing good?” You might ask.
The short answer: yes.
However, this is not always the case with internal search results pages.
In fact, Google recommends using the robots.txt protocol in its webmaster guidelines to prevent crawlers from analyzing such pages. The reason: to save your crawl budget on product and category pages that matter.
However, if an internal search results page is receiving decent organic traffic and converting a significant percentage of that traffic, consider keeping it indexed.
Check out our in-depth guide to learn more about whether or not to index pages for site search.
Highlight popular or trending products.
Lastly, your internal website search data lets you see which products your customers are looking for most and then highlight them on your homepage. You may also consider adding related categories or products to your global navigation, especially for category searches and other popular category pages that may or may not already be on your site.
This way, when a customer sees the product they were looking for without having to search for it, you create a memorable browsing experience – and the likelihood of converting.
Bottom line: This strategy can help keep users on your site longer and generate more sales.
Start looking at your Site Search data today
All in all, internal website search trends are gold mines for customer insights for ecommerce companies.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to take advantage of them to start improving your SEO strategy today. The data will help you scale your traffic, build authority and ultimately increase your sales.
If you don’t know where to start, our SEO experts will be happy to help you analyze and use your search data on site. Contact us for a free quote tailored to your business needs and goals.