Tracking Site Search for GET-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 GET based search engine. It is important to remember that the site search tracking does not come pre-installed in Google Analytics. You need to manually set it up, in your reporting view.

Before you set up site search tracking, you need to know, how the search engine set up on your website works and how it send search information (search query parameter, category parameter, search terms etc) from a user’s web browser to your web server.

If your website is using a GET based search engine then follow the steps below to set up site search tracking in Google Analytics:

Step-1: Navigate to your website and then perform a search.

Step-2: Identify and note down the search query parameter and/or category parameter (if any) from your search URL:

If you do not see search query / category parameter in your search URL then may be you are using a POST based search engine on your website. Contact your web developer, if you can’t identify the search query and/or category parameters.

Note: Some websites can have multiple search query parameters. If you have got such website then you would need to find and note down all such parameters.

Step-3: Login to your Google Analytics account and then navigate to the view in which you want to set up site search tracking.

Note: The site search tracking is set up at the view level and not at the property level.

Step-3: In your view, navigate to ‘Admin’ and then click on ‘view settings’:

Step-4: Under ‘Site Search Settings’, set ‘Site Search Tracking’ toggle button to ON:

Step-5: Enter your query parameter in the text box under ‘Query Parameter’:

If your website uses multiple query parameters then you can enter up to 5 query parameters, each separated by comma like the one below:

If you do not want the query parameters to appear in your search page URL in the GA reports then select the checkbox ‘Strip query parameters out of URL’:

Note: When you strip the query parameter from your search page URL, it also strip the search terms associated with the query parameter from the URL:

Note: When you strip the query parameter from your search page URL, no non-search query parameter is stripped from the search page URL.

Step-6: If your website uses search categories then set the ‘Site Search Categories’ toggle button to ON and enter the category parameter:

If you do not want the category parameter to appear in your search page URL in the GA reports then select the checkbox ‘Strip category parameters out of URL’:

When you strip the category parameter from your search page URL, it also strip the category name associated with the category parameter from the URL. However no non-category parameter is stripped from the search page URL.

Please bear in mind that stripping query/category parameters from the search page URL could have different effect on different websites. It all depends upon how your website has been set up for internal site search. So test your search page URL after stripping query/category parameters and before making this change permanent.

Step-6: Click on the ‘save’ button.

Step-7: Perform couple of searches on your website and then wait for 10 or so minutes.

Step-8: In your GA view (where you set up the site search tracking) set the date range to ‘today’.

Step-9: Now navigate to ‘Behavior’ > Site Search > Search Terms report:

If you see search terms listed in the ‘Search Terms’ report then it means your site search tracking is working:

If your website also use search categories then click on the ‘site search category’ link to see the search category data:

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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