How To Tweak Google Analytics To Output Traffic Generating Article Ideas

by Robb Sutton

Do you wish you could tap into the minds of your readers and figure out exactly what they want to read on your blog? You can…let’s run through how.

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools as a blogger. Not only do you watch your traffic metrics and how you are performing, but you can get extreme insight into your visitors. Information about where they are from, what browser they are using and how they click through your site has a profound affect on how you tailor your content and lay out your design.

Today, I want to take a second to show you one of the coolest features of Google Analytics that most bloggers never even bother to setup…and it is information that will make you money over time…

How People Land On Your Pages Is Important

When a new reader searches for some string of terms in Google and lands on your pages, that is important information to have. You can find those keyword strings in Google Analytics to see how you are performing on a keyword basis.

But what happens after that?

If the reader likes your content, they are going to look for more quality content that fits their needs. While they might look at your most recent posts, click on a link in your related articles widget or start browsing through your categories…they are most likely going to do exactly what brought them to your site to begin with…SEARCH.

Within Wordpress, there is a pretty robust search feature that every blogger puts on their site. Typically, it is a set and forget feature as you throw the search widget in your sidebar or header and forget about it. It is there and readers will use it…your job is done right? Wrong.

Just like the information you use to see how readers find your site is important, what they are searching for on your site is equally important.

If only there was a way to track this information to improve our blogs…oh wait…there is! And Google makes it incredibly easy to track this information for you within Analytics.

Using Site Search Metrics In Google Analytics

When you search for something on a website, the url of the results are different than any other structure on your site. Google uses this information to track those keyword strings and outputs them for you within your admin…you just have to set it up.

In the left sidebar of Analytics under the “Content” link, there is a link for “Site Search”.  When you first click on it, you will get a screen that looks like this.

Setting Up Site Search In Google Analytics

Since you do not have it setup (it isn’t by default), you have to go tweak some settings within your account profile. Click back to your account list by clicking on the Google Analytics logo and then click on the account you want to setup search tracking on. On this second screen that now shows only that domain, click “edit” to start setting this up.

That should bring you to a screen that looks like this.

Setting Up Site Search In Google Analytics

When you click “edit” in the upper right corner below “Receiving Data”, you come to a new screen to setup your search analytics. When you get to the next screen, put an “s” in the “query parameter” field like you see below. This is how Wordpress handles search, so if you are using another blogging platform, you will need to see what character they use for search in the url.

Setting Up Site Search In Google AnalyticsGreat! You are all setup! Now what?

You wait for Analytics to do it its job and for readers to search on your site. As they do, you will start to see a screen that looks like this in your Analytics account.

Site Search Results

Obviously, this is just the top half of the screenshot. There is some basic keyword information when you scroll down, but there is also a ton of in-depth information on how your users interacted with your search feature and what they searched for.

What Do I Do With This Site Search Info?

For my blogging, this site search information is liquid gold. Here is how I use this information to grow my blogs and connect with my audience.

1. Self Generating Article Topic Bank

You have just created a self generating article idea bank. If you are ever stumped on what to write during a given week, this information is automatically spitting out article ideas…and more importantly…it is generating article ideas that your readers want to read. This is not a list that some other blogger told you to write…or a “hit list” of topics on the web…this is what your readers are searching for on your site, and if they are not finding it…you need to write it.

2. Reader Feedback For Product Reviews

If you know me at all, you already know I am a huge fan of product reviews as a way to generate income through blogs. This information has a lot of leverage when you are trying to get in product to review on your site. Think of it this way…

How much more powerful is this than just asking for free stuff. “We are currently tracking search trends on our website and noticed that your brand name is being searched for almost 30 times a month. Our readers want to see your product reviewed on our website. We also have over 13,000 regular subscribers and over 10,000 newsletter subscribers that have come to expect high quality product reviews that help them make purchasing decisions.”

Can you see how much weight site metrics and reader trends can give you when you are trying to line up products to review on your site? That is real-time information and feedback that companies love to see.

3. Expansion Ideas

What are your readers searching for that complements your content? If you started off blogging the right way, you chose a narrower niche that had expansion capabilities over time. By starting off with less competition, you are able to grow a following that can then compete on a larger level. By watching these search metrics, you can find the ares you need to expand into quickly.

Time To Get To Work

As you can see, what your readers are searching for on your blog is extremely useful information as you start to tailor your content and grow your business. This is also one of the most overlooked parts of blogging that most bloggers ignore or never bother to even setup. Get this setup on your blog today and start getting into the mind of your reader.

Have you setup Site Search yet?

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Black Seo Guy March 9, 2011 - 2:35 pm

Super great..I never looked at that option…I ready to try it out and see what I can come up with..

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

Cosmin Stefan March 9, 2011 - 3:29 pm

Thanks for the tutorial, took me 5 minutes to read and set it up. Now let’s see what happens.

Robb Sutton March 11, 2011 - 12:07 pm

Great! It will be interesting to see your results.

JEDsWEB March 9, 2011 - 4:34 pm

Thanks Robb! This is powerful for determining what to give your visitors, and something I didn’t even know I was missing.

Rich Wallace March 9, 2011 - 6:42 pm

Awesome find, Robb! I’ve implemented on my blogs and should be diving into the new data points soon enough. Thanks for sharing!

Codrut Turcanu March 10, 2011 - 6:47 pm

I’ve enabled that option as well, but I guess we need to add the search box, how do we do that?

Rich Wallace March 10, 2011 - 7:06 pm


If you’re using Wordpress – you can add a search box to your sidebar under “Appearance >> Widgets” and drag over the “Search” widget over. I’m seeing results already so it looks very promising. Let me know if you need any further assistance!

Codrut Turcanu March 10, 2011 - 7:44 pm

how couldn’t I thought about that. I’m also looking for a plugin on this, any ideas?

Robb Sutton March 11, 2011 - 12:06 pm

A plugin for on site search? It’s all built into Wordpress.

You can’t do a plugin for GA search analytics because it has to be setup in your account.

Codrut Turcanu March 13, 2011 - 9:56 am

I tried to add it , but whatever I type in, it provides no results… did you experience this too? Or, is there a WP plugin that helps with showing proper search results within one’s blog?

Robb Sutton March 13, 2011 - 2:26 pm

I don’t see a search field on your site.

You also have to have posts that are centered around those keywords or nothing will show up. There is no plugin…it is a function of Wordpress. There are 3rd party plugins out there, but I do not use any of them. In most cases, they rely on outside processing to display the results when the Wordpress one does just fine in almost all cases.

How many posts do you have active? If you do not have many…there is not much to search for…

Codrut Turcanu March 14, 2011 - 12:06 pm

ha, ha. I’ve removed the search box as it didn’t show any results, not even for my name. I have 300+ posts and most of them are keyword/tag rich. Stay cool my friend, I’m not new to the game.

Robb Sutton March 14, 2011 - 12:08 pm

That’s not what I said…but ok.

Something is wrong with your code then.

Owen Marcus March 9, 2011 - 6:48 pm

Thanks Robb – I didn’t know about this tweak.

A Surefire Daily Writing Strategy that Works - What's yours? - Webmaster Forum March 12, 2011 - 7:47 am

[…] tracking what people are searching on the site. It’s easy to set up, here is his tutorial:…lytics-output/ I thought I’d just share it in here since your ideas are similar. __________________ I […]

Anonymous March 17, 2011 - 7:18 am

Robb mate, this is honestly one of the best posts I have read on how to fully utilise your Analytics for higher conversions etc.
Only yesterday I was looking and noticed that my page views had gone from 2.7 to 1.9 so clearly I am not engaging my readers enough to want to stay and investigate.
Thats just onething, but you have given me even more to think about.

BTW – buying platform pro dev. license from you next week (and so looking forard to playing with itLOL)

Robb Sutton March 17, 2011 - 11:08 am

Rock on! Every little bit counts so integrating metrics like this really put you in tune with your readers.

Anonymous March 17, 2011 - 7:19 am

is that box above me easy to add? seems like a great CTA for the theme thats all

Robb Sutton March 17, 2011 - 11:08 am

I can send it to you via email when you are ready.

Guest March 18, 2011 - 7:06 am

Thanks for the tip Rob. I’ve added it to a few of my niches sites. Hopefully, it will yield some additional product ideas either through creation or affiliates.

Jason March 18, 2011 - 7:10 am

Thanks Rob! I’ve added this to a couple of my niche sites. Interested to see if this yields some new ideas for product creation or affiliate opportunities.

Ryah Albatros March 27, 2011 - 7:26 pm

Thanks so much for the clear explanation and uses for the site search analytics. I’ve just set mine up and look forward to seeing what results I get.


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