Defining your internal site search business requirements

When deciding to track internal search on your site, it is important to first decide which aspects of search you want to track, and what actions can be taken from analyzing the results. This video walks through the documenting of business requirements.

Hey everybody, this is Doug. In this video I want to talk to you about defining your internal site search business requirements. So whether you have an amp measurement implementation of analytics or a web STK implementation of analytics either way, you should document your business requirements so that everybody knows what you’re trying to accomplish with your analytics in regards to internal search. So here we have a sample BRD ,business requirements document and I’ve written a few things and I’ve got some basics up here. I want to go over those and then maybe give you some examples of other things you might want to track. And then we’ll talk about the reports and some of these other columns. So, the first one is pretty basic, right? The main thing we want to track is what people are looking for. So, we want to track our internal search terms. The next thing we’re going to track is how many times people are searching overall and also for specific search terms. So, we can obviously see which ones are searching on the most. Next, a very common one is to track the number of search results returned. Well, why would we want to do this? Well, if we have people looking for things for which there are no search results that’s going to be important for us to know, right? So on one hand, it’s kind of like, you know zero search results and then any search results, right? And zero search results are unsuccessful searches. However, you know, if you only have a few search results that can give you an idea that you might want to provide more content, more products, those kinds of things whatever people are searching for in order to, you know help your customer be more successful. But again, maybe the most important result there that we’re looking for is the zero result when people are looking for stuff on our site and they’re not finding it. So, in that case, you know is it because they’ve misspelled something? Well, maybe we want to incorporate some common misspellings into the search results for our product or content or whatever, or maybe we just want to know that they are misspelling that and then we move on. Whatever you want to do with it, right? And then the number of unsuccessful searches really is a subset of the total number of searches up here. But this is a good way to be able to create a report, a table that just shows us the terms that didn’t have any results. And then of course another very common one is to track search filters. And I’ve given some examples down here as well as some other things but some common search filters might be if you’re a travel site, maybe, you know, cities or countries destinations that people are searching for or maybe specific airlines or whatever, right? Another thing, if you’re a retail site maybe it’s a product price range or a product brand or other kinds of things about the product that would be good filters, search scope, you know are they searching the whole site or just a portion of it? Can be a search filter radius distance, right, if you have a location and they are searching within a certain number of miles or kilometers, et cetera. Those are some of the things that can go into the filters. So, you could track each one of these one by one in different variables, or if they put filters in you could just track whatever they’ve selected in one field and collect search filters. So that’s up to you. If you’re putting a lot of emphasis on one thing like maybe auto-complete then maybe it goes into its own variable. But if it’s just, you know, one of a number of things that they can select, you know, again maybe these items down here then maybe it’s just, you know into the search filters field together. Some other things that can be good to document you can see here the key business objectives that these are associated with, the business owners, the priority and phase. Maybe you do some of these main ones in a phase one so they have the highest priority. And then some of the other ones that are lower priority are done in you know, a phase two or whatever. Have some notes and then of course if you’re documenting it for somebody else to implement then you may want to give them what we call a text back which is just documentation on how to implement. So, the better your documentation here on the implementation, you know, the better for everybody. So, I don’t want to downplay those but I am going to hide them for just a minute. So, I can emphasize some other columns let’s go hide. And then you can see in here you may want to even put which eVars, events or props, et cetera that you are going to use for these. So, let’s say I’ve kind of gone through my implementation. I’ve decided to put the search term into eVar10, that’s fine. And then the number of searches so when there’s a search I’m going to put that into an event. Let’s say that’s in the event, you know, four I’m just making this up, of course. And maybe the unsuccessful searches, which is again a subset of the total number of searches is event5. Now you don’t have to do searches and a subset of unsuccessful searches. You could do successful searches and unsuccessful searches. Whichever one you want to do either, you know have those mutually exclusive or have the unsuccessful searches be a subset of the total number of searches, whichever way you want to do it. Now we’ll just choose an eVar for the number of search results returned. And, you know, number sounds like an event, right? It sounds like a metric, but in reality I kind of like it as an eVar because that way it’s a dimension and you can see, you know how many times people got a certain number of results back, right? So I’m going to put this one on eVar11.
Now, if I were to keep going and say eVar12 here for example, on search filters there could be an issue with that because you might be tracking multiple search filters into a regular eVar, right? If you had a couple of price ranges or a couple of different brands that they’d selected or maybe even a couple of both and they’re going into this regular eVar and you know let’s say you have different brands, a, b, then that’s exactly how it’s going to show up in an eVar, is a, b, what you really want is a on one line and b on another line. So, in that case, what you really want here instead of a regular eVar is a List Var. So, I’m going to put in List Var 1. Now it can get tricky because you do only have three List Vars per report suite. But if you do have one and you want to use it for this then that’s a great usage again because you might have multiple values going into this eVar. And if you don’t have any list Var available to you you can use a prop because, you know, say I want to use prop11. You can turn any prop into a list prop.
And again, it doesn’t work the same way with eVars, you have to use a specialty Var called a List Var and you only have three of those, but again you really have as many props as you want more or less, well, not as many as you want. But you have a bunch and any of them can be list props. And so, if you don’t have a List Vars then you can go to a list prop and use that as well. In which case you may want to even put the search term in a prop. So, you can put prop10 up here and have the search term go into a prop as well. Again, these are just decisions you can make as you define your needs for your internal search. But these are probably the most common here. Again, here’s some other examples, the auto-complete, status and value. We talked about most of these search field location. I don’t know if I talked about that yet. Did I? So that is, you know, if you have different locations on your site where they can search from, maybe you want to know which one they use the most, is it the one at the top of the page or the bottom, et cetera. You can also measure the page number that people click on the search results. So, you know, as the one that they clicked on on the first page of the results, or, you know on the second, et cetera. I don’t think I talked about the sort type yet. So that is again, you know, do you want to sort by highest to lowest, you know, most recent, et cetera. So, these are some things that you can use and track when it comes to internal search in which case you’d want to, you know decide what the report is going to be named. That is what the dimension or the metric is going to be named and which variables you’re going to use for those. I hope this was helpful to just walk through this a little bit and talk about a few things. Good luck. -