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« An Open Letter to Omniture | Main | Connecting the Dots or Coloring by Number »

November 11, 2007


Daniel Shields

I'm absolutely loving this. Great topic, awesome timing, and graceful contribution.

There is so much you can get from search. Avinash had a point in saying what he stated. I think the appeal for readership was made to the ego.

Its really important for people to realize the contextual implications as part of their analysis of this data. Its that thing that Judah always pounds the table about: Data without context. What good is it if you can't boil the fluff out of it.

So...about a month ago Google decided to make the announcement, and rightly so at the eMetrics Summit in DC, that they were adding search measurement functionality to the analytics solution. Now, everyone in the world has the ability to get good data to feed out. How many other huge, universal areas of site analytics will it take before people pierce the veil of silence and start talking about what they find? Will they heed warning after warning about a cautious and calculated approach to making changes? How many huge ugly search buttons can we expect to see? Will engaged search become a new consideration?

I'd love to hear thoughts from you or anyone on this.

I can't figure out if people aren't getting valuable insights to contribute to a larger understanding or if practitioners actively choose not to participate in enriching the practice pool.


Well, its been six months now since this post. I'd like to know why we wouldn't want visitors to search on our sites?

The only reason I can think of why you wouldn't want people to search is if your onsite search engine was poor (and that's the case on many, many sites!).

I'm amazed this topic hasn't generated more traffic, as internal search data can be a goldmine on many sites.



Thanks for your question; they are always appreciated – especially the good ones.

Thinking up hypothetical scenarios where you would not want people to search isn’t that difficult of a task, the challenge is figuring out what scenarios apply to your site.

It’s (almost) never the case on sites with average or above average internal search tools that an analyst can make the sweeping generalization that internal search should never be performed by anyone. When you segment your traffic , however, behavioral differences sometimes reveal instances where the act of searching by a specific population segment is clearly not a good thing. A real world example that comes to mind is a commerce site with a large number of products. On this site returning customers were more likely to have a purchase if they utilized internal search, but prospects were a different story. Prospects with two or less visits who utilized internal search had a significantly worse conversion rate than a comparable group of prospects that didn’t touch internal search.

Other examples of when a specific population utilizing internal search is a negative thing are seemingly limitless. It is conceivable for internal search to make certain population segments consume more content, less content, sign up for newsletters less frequently, buy less, send few lead gen emails, etc.

For people with the tools and resources its important to take a step back from their direct internal search data and consider if all internal searches are helping people progress toward a site success.

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