Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager

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.

Following is an example of a search page URL which contains the search term but not the query parameter:

Today I am going to show you, how to set up site search tracking in Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager when the search term is present in the search page URL but without query parameter.

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Perform a search on your website and then note down the request URI.

For example if the search URL is:

https://www.optimizesmart.com/search/enhanced+ecommerce+tracking

Then the request URI would be:

/search/enhanced+ecommerce+tracking

Step-2: Convert the request URI into a JavaScript based regular expression.

So in our case the regex equivalent of /search/enhanced+ecommerce+tracking would be: 

\/search\/(.*)

You can test this regex via regex101.com to confirm its validity:

To learn more about regular expressions (or regex), read this article: Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager Regex (Regular Expressions) Guide

Step-3: Create and test the JavaScript function which check for the search URL and whenever it finds one, it append the query parameter to it and then return the modified URI:

function() {
  var regex = /^\/search\/(.*)/;
  var pagePath = '/search/enhanced ecommerce tracking/';
  if(regex.test(pagePath) 
  {
  var searchTerm = regex.exec(pagePath)[1];
  var NewUri = "/search/?s=" + searchTerm;
  return NewUri;
  }
  return false;
}

Here,

regex’ (as in var regex) is a regular expression object which is used to store a regular expression.

Both ‘test’ and ‘exec’ are the methods of the ‘regex’ object.

test’ method (as in regex.test) test for a match in a string.

It returns a boolean value: ‘true’ if its find a match, otherwise it returns ‘false’

Syntax: RegExpObject.test(string to be searched)

pagePath is the variable which is used to store the request URI of the page which loads into a user’s web browser.

exec’ method (as in regex.exec) also test for a match in a string.

But unlike ‘test’, it returns the array which contains the matched text, if it finds the match.

Otherwise it returns NULL.

Syntax: RegExpObject.exec(string to be searched)

‘exec’ method return an array of all matched text.

So for the regex ^\/search\/(.*) and pagePath = ‘/search/enhanced ecommerce tracking/’

The regex.exec(pagePath) = [‘/search/enhanced ecommerce tracking/’, ‘enhanced ecommerce tracking/’];

The regex.exec(pagePath)[0] = [‘/search/enhanced ecommerce tracking/’];

The regex.exec(pagePath)[1] = [‘enhanced ecommerce tracking/’];

So when we use regex.exec(pagePath)[1] we can extract the search string from the request URI.

The ‘searchTerm’ variable is used to store the search term extracted from the request URI.

The expression ‘“/search/?s=” + searchTerm;’ is used to append ‘/search/?’ and the query parameter ‘’s’ to the search term.

Basically we are concatenating two strings here using the ‘+’ operator.

If you are new to JavaScript then read this article ‘Beginners guide to JavaScript for Google Analytics

The ‘NewUri’ variable is used to store the modified URI (the one which contains the query parameter).

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Step-4: Replace the ‘pagePath’ variable we created above with {{Page Path}}.

So now the function will look like the one below:

function() {
  var regex = /^\/search\/(.*)/;
  if(regex.test({{Page Path}})) 
  {
  var searchTerm = regex.exec({{Page Path}})[1];
  var NewUri = "/search/?s=" + searchTerm;
  return NewUri;
  }
  return false;
}

Here,

{{Page Path}} is a built-in variable in Google Tag Manager which returns the request URI of the page which loads into a user’s web browser.

Step-5: Create a new custom JavaScript variable in GTM and copy-paste the function we created above there:

Step-6: Edit the tag which you use to deploy Google Analytics pageview, navigate to the section named ‘Fields to set’ and then click on the ‘Add field’ button:

Step-7: Set ‘page’ field to ‘{{Append query parameter to search pages}}’ and then save the tag:

Step-8: Preview and publish your container.

Step-9: Open Google console, switch on GA debugger and then navigate to the ‘console’ tab.

Step-10: Now perform a search on your website and check the ‘page’ field in the GIF request:

This shows that the request URI for search pages are successfully being re-written.

Step-11: 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’:

Step-12: Perform a search on your website and then after 20 or so minutes, check your ‘site search’ reports in GA for the new data.

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

Other Articles on Specialised Tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Google Analytics Recurring Revenue and Subscriptions Tracking Guide
  2. How to track the impact of cookie consent on website traffic in Google Analytics
  3. Phone Call Tracking in Google Analytics and Beyond
  4. Scroll Tracking via Scroll Depth Trigger in Google Tag Manager
  5. Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger In Google Tag Manager
  6. Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  7. The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list
  8. Introduction to Postbacks in Google Analytics
  9. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  10. Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager
  11. Setting Up Site Search Tracking for POST based search engines in Google Analytics
  12. Tracking Site Search for GET-Based Search Engines in Google Analytics
  13. Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics
  14. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Complete Guide
  15. Creating and using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics
  16. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  17. How to use Keyword Hero to reveal Not Provided keywords in Google Analytics
  18. Guide to Event Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  19. Learn to track Qualified and Won leads in Google Analytics
  20. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  21. Using multiple Google Analytics tracking codes on web pages
  22. Guide to Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics
  23. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Guide
  24. Complete Guide to Google Analytics for Facebook
  25. Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways
  26. Virtual pageviews in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  27. YouTube Video tracking via Google Tag Manager
  28. Implementing E-Commerce Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  29. Event Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  30. E-Commerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide
  31. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking Explained Like Never Before
  32. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  33. Setting up & Tracking AMP Pages in Google Analytics
  34. Setting up Sales Funnel across websites in Google Analytics
  35. Using Data Visualization to analyze the SEO Performance
  36. Tracking offline conversions in Google Adwords
  37. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  38. Tracking Twitter and Linkedin Social Interactions in Google Analytics
  39. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  40. Phone Call Tracking and ROI calculations – Champion’s Guide
  41. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking (ga.js)
  42. Open Graph Protocol for Facebook Explained with Examples

Learn about the Google Analytics Usage Trends Tool

The Google Analytics usage trend is a new tool which is used to visualise trends in your Google Analytics data and to perform trend analysis.


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