Setting Up Site Search Tracking for POST based search engines in Google Analytics

This article is in conjunction with the article Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics where I introduced the concept of ‘site search tracking’ in Google Analytics and also introduced ‘GET based’ and ‘POST based’ search engines.

Today I am going to show you, how to set up site search tracking in Google Analytics for a POST based search engine. If you a use a search engine which is POST based, then most likely the search page URL does not contain query/category parameters and search terms.

So instead of a search page URL, like the one below:

Your search page URL may look like the one below:

No matter what you search and how many times you search, your search page URL remains intact as the search information is sent from a user’s web browser to your web server within the body of the HTTP request and not via search page URL.

If you are using a POST based search engine then Google recommends following two methods to set up site search tracking in GA :

  1. Convert your POST based search engine to GET based search engine.
  2. Send virtual pageviews along with query parameter and search term whenever a search is performed on your website.

Method #1: Convert your POST based search engine to GET based search engine (Recommended)

Configure the site search engine on your website in the way that it sends search information (like: search query parameter, search terms) from a user’s browser to your web server via search page URL (instead of within the body of HTTP request).

So whenever a search is performed on your website, both the search query parameter and search terms are appended to the search page URL like the one below:

https://www.optimizesmart.com/search/?s=keyword

So basically convert your POST based search engine to GET based search engine.

Once this task is complete then configure the site search settings in your Google Analytics reporting view i.e. set the ‘Site Search Tracking’ toggle button to ON and enter your query parameter in the text box under ‘Query Parameter’:

Note: I would recommend that you convert your POST based search engine to GET based search engine. Not only then it will be easier to set up site search tracking, you will also be able to use search results as landing pages for your marketing campaigns. Since GET requests can be bookmarked and cached, it will be easier for your users to return to their previous search on your website.

Method #2: Send virtual pageviews whenever a search is performed

If for some reason, it is absolutely not possible to convert your POST based search engine to GET based search engine then you can send virtual pageviews whenever a search is performed on your website.

Customize your Google Analytics tracking code in the way that whenever a search result page is loaded into a user’s web browser (i.e. the search is performed on your website), the search query/category parameter along with the search term is appended to the request URI. For example:

ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’, ‘/search/?s=keyword’); // rewriting request URI on page load

Here you would need to write a code which can identify and extract search term from your HTML DOM and then append query/category parameter to it before sending it as a virtual pageview to GA. So for example, if a user searched for the keyword ‘enhanced ecommerce tracking’ on your website, he may see the search result page with the following URL:

https://www.optimizesmart.com/search/

But the request URI sent for this page to GA would be:

/search/?s=enhanced+ecommerce+tracking

instead of the usual:

/search/

Once this task is complete then configure the site search settings in your Google Analytics reporting view i.e. set the ‘Site Search Tracking’ toggle button to ON and enter your query parameter in the text box under ‘Query Parameter’.

Related Article: Creating and using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics

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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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