Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics with 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 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 sends 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 the search query/category parameter in your search URL then maybe 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 a website then you would need to find and note down all such parameters.

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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-4: In your view, navigate to ‘Admin’ and then click on ‘view settings’:

Step-5: Under ‘Site Search Settings’, set ‘Site Search Tracking’ toggle button to ON:

Step-6: 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 strips 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-7: 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 strips 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 effects 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-8: Click on the ‘save’ button.

Step-9: Perform a couple of searches on your website and then wait for 10 or so minutes.

Step-10: In your GA view (where you set up the site search tracking) set the date range to ‘today’.

Step-11: 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 uses 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

Other articles on specialized tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  2. Event Tracking via Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  3. Event Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  4. Guide to Google Analytics Store Visits Tracking
  5. Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  6. Implementing E-Commerce Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  7. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  8. YouTube Video tracking via Google Tag Manager
  9. How to Use Keyword Hero to Reveal Not Provided Keywords in Google Analytics
  10. Virtual pageviews in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  11. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Tutorial
  12. Google Analytics for Facebook Tutorial
  13. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking Explained Like Never Before
  14. Using multiple Google Analytics tracking codes on web pages
  15. The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list
  16. Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  17. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  18. Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager
  19. Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways
  20. Phone Call Tracking in Google Analytics and Beyond
  21. Learn to Track Qualified and Won Leads in Google Analytics
  22. Introduction to Postbacks in Google Analytics
  23. Google Analytics Recurring Revenue and Subscriptions Tracking Tutorial
  24. How to track the impact of cookie consent on website traffic in Google Analytics
  25. Tracking Offline Conversions in Google Ads
  26. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  27. Scroll Tracking via Scroll Depth Trigger in Google Tag Manager
  28. Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics Without Query Parameters
  29. Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger In Google Tag Manager
  30. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  31. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  32. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking (ga.js)
  33. Tracking Twitter and Linkedin Social Interactions in Google Analytics
  34. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  35. Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics with Query Parameters
  36. Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics
  37. Creating and Using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics
  38. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  39. Setting up & Tracking AMP Pages in Google Analytics
  40. Setting up Sales Funnel across websites in Google Analytics
  41. Regular Expressions (Regex) for Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager – Tutorial

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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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