Analyzing Real-Time Internal User Searches


Higher education websites always have a steady supply of visitors. It’s great to see the numbers in Google Analyics fluctuate each day and trend upwards over time, but are your visitors finding what they came for? This talk is a high-level-to-in-depth look at tracking what visitors are searching for in real time from your site. We’ll go beyond the consolidated “popular keywords” list to an actual trend list with grouped phases and pages. The goal is peer into the visitor’s mind and figure out why they are searching for “address” on the Contact Us page or “Professor Smith” on the Faculty Information page. Higher education websites always struggle to accommodate two audiences, internal and external. Search results based on location don’t lie, it’s easy to combine real internal searches with reasons why quicklinks and extra menus may or may not be functioning as optimally as they should. It’s time to go beyond pageviews and user paths and look at real-time search analytics.

Nick Denardis, Associate Director of Web Communications, Wayne State University


My Notes

Driving decisions with data
– Why does your university have a website: they come there for a purpose, a purpose they know
– He is with Wayne State: 11% use search, 25% external search
– They used Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, Woopra
— These only gave them half the picture

– Every visitor tells a story (summaries didn’t cut it)
– It starts with a fist impression

External vs. internal
10 sec test

– external scan get frusted, punt to search
– internal don’t have time to scan, punt to search

– they added a script to the search to db the search terms
— only put it on top two levels

– notalbe patterns
— they search for existing pages

– they categorized them into 5 categories

– then they made a auto search (jquery: auto suggest) on the search box – to skip the search results page
– they got 35% used the auto search

– they added a “quick link bar” below the centerpiece for move in week. they did heat map and showed that they got .1% clicks on the bar.

typical search experience

– they then started tweaking google custom search results page: give events, classes, faculty, building info related to the search term

– data driving decisions
— start collecting and watching