Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics Without Query Parameters

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 use a search engine that 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 the search page URL.

If you are using a POST based search engine then Google recommends the 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 parameters and a search term whenever a search is performed on your website.

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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

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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