tracking internal site search in google analytics

The First Thing I Do When Setting Up Clients Up On Google Analytics

Updated 12/6/2015

Tracking internal searches can lead to a goldmine of data that can help you convert more, plus it also heightens the customer experience if you act upon your findings.

Internal search tracking is easy to implement in Google Analytics and will reveal real search queries entered by users while on your site – this can help you decide what popular content to bring to the forefront, make key products more visible and give you an idea of what your customers are really looking for – and more importantly, how they look for it!

In a world where Google is hiding search engine keyword data in Analytics behind [not provided], this internal search query information is critical to understanding what your customers are looking for, and how you can give it to them.

OK so how do you find this data?

  1. Log in to your Analytics account and click into the site with which you wish to track internal searches (for obvious reasons, you can only track internal searches on sites that have internal search functionality!)
  2. Click into the ‘Behaviour’ tab and then into ‘Site Search’ and then ‘Search Terms’
  3. Here you will find a list of searches that were conducted on your site and some interesting information about behaviour following a search.

internal site search queries

How do I implement this then?

1. Conduct a search on your site to find the query parameter which you will need in a moment.

e.g. In the following example where I have searched for “apple” the search query parameter is the letter “s“. (see it for yourself:

The query parameter follows “…?” (the question mark) and precedes the “=…” (equals sign).

(Note: sometimes these parameter will be a single letter such as “q” or “s” as above, or a word such as “search“).

search query parameter

2. In Google Analytics go to Admin (at the top of the screen) > View > View Settings.

3. Under “Site Search Settings” (towards the bottom of the screen) click turn the OFF button to ON and add the query parameter in the text field (e.g. s) and “Save” the change.

If you have any problems or questions with regards to implementing this please contact me via Google+ and I’ll help out!


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Wow you made it to the author bio? Go you! What, a little bit about me? Oh OK then, shucks - where to start? When I'm not marketing digitally, you can find me in the sea, on the snow or round the streets with a board at my feet, usually listening to some little known rock band. Catch me on Twitter (@rickeliason) or on my Facebook page where I'm documenting my journey to 100,000 site visitors in 12 months (

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2 comments on “The First Thing I Do When Setting Up Clients Up On Google Analytics
  1. Luigi says:

    Hi Rick,

    Is there such a thing as track Google searches for more sales leads?
    There are companies what sell search leads be it for cars , tiles or whatever I just wanted to clarify if this is true or false?
    I do know a friend of mine sells car leases over phone which are generated via search.
    Thanks Luigi.

  2. Daniel says:

    Hi, thanks for a great article!

    One question, what do you do when you have a dynamic value between the ? and =. In my example I have a language parameter inside (lang=sv&q), and I want to see all searches regardless of what language they have selected. It´s quite blunt to have one view in GA for each language.

    Again, thanks for a great site with lots of good resources 🙂

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