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Analyzing Real-time User Visitor Searches


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Higher education websites always have a steady supply of visitors. It's great to see the numbers in Google Analyics fluctuate each day and trend upwards over time, but are your visitors finding what they came for? This talk is a high-level-to-in-depth look at tracking what visitors are searching for in real time from your site. We'll go beyond the consolidated "popular keywords" list to an actual trend list with grouped phases and pages. The goal is peer into the visitor's mind and figure out why they are searching for "address" on the Contact Us page or "Professor Smith" on the Faculty Information page. Higher education websites always struggle to accommodate two audiences, internal and external. Search results based on location don't lie, it's easy to combine real internal searches with reasons why quicklinks and extra menus may or may not be functioning as optimally as they should. It's time to go beyond pageviews and user paths and look at real-time search analytics.

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Analyzing Real-time User Visitor Searches

  1. 1. Analyzing Real-time User Visitor Searches Nick DeNardis @nickdenardis
  2. 2. Nick DeNardis Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University Host of EDU Checkup Writer for .eduGuru
  3. 3. Driving Decisions with Data  
  4. 4. Why does your institution have a website?  
  5. 5. Blinders on our eyes Source:
  6. 6.
  7. 7. The Numbers From September 10, 2009 - 2010 2,706,348 External Visits 6,060,138 Internal Visits = 8,766,486 Total Visits   669,875 External Searches 299,780 Internal Searches = 969,655 Total Searches 11% of all visitors use the search 25% of external visitors search
  8. 8. We used the standard tools to analyze our site stats •  Google Analytics •  Google Webmaster Tools •  Crazy Egg •  Woopra We weren't happy They only gave us half the picture
  9. 9. Every visitor tells a story Summaries of top search terms were not cutting it
  10. 10. It starts with a first impression External vs. Internal 10 Second Test General Capability
  11. 11. External Notice the visuals, orient with the navigation, scan and be disappointed
  12. 12. Internal Another day, another dollar. Need to find a list of xyz Never seen it on the main menu I don't have time to explore I'll search for it.
  13. 13. Do you think you know what the typical visitor is searching for?  
  14. 14. “what is wayne state zip code” (It's on the footer)
  15. 15. “print out my application i already filled out”  
  16. 16. “2010 cost of tution and expenses”  
  17. 17. “what happens if i dont apply for graduation”  
  18. 18. “how to prepare for career fair”
  19. 19. “how to register for permission required classes”
  20. 20. “where to send transcript”
  21. 21. “clifford clark”
  22. 22. How often have you seen these in your Google Dashboard?  
  23. 23. Our Solution  
  24. 24. Watching the search spy all day • Most notable patterns –  People search for existing sites –  People search for other people (faculty) • Unexpected patterns –  Searches for obvious information on the page
  25. 25. Categories of Search Terms • 28% Department/Office • 21% Program/Requirements • 15% Faculty/Staff Member • 12% Location • 24% Other
  26. 26. Auto Suggest
  27. 27. 35% use auto select (skip the results page)
  28. 28. First Week Resources Class Schedule Campus Map Academic Calendar Bookstore Driving Directions
  29. 29. 3 hours 43 mins later 10000 visits 10698 clicks total
  30. 30. Did it work? 777 – Class Schedule 683 – Campus Map 445 – Academic Calendar 342 – Bookstore 293 – Driving Directions 2,540 – Total Clicks (0.13%) From September 1–7, 2010
  31. 31. The typical search experience
  32. 32. It’s all in the results
  33. 33. It’s all in the results
  34. 34. Web Communications Blog
  35. 35. Now it’s your turn.
  36. 36. QuerySpy
  37. 37. Data Driving Decisions • Start collecting, start watching • Share your numbers • Higher Ed Analytics @karinejoly • Trending Upward @shelbythayer
  38. 38. Thank You @nickdenardis