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You need effective keywords to launch a successful search engine optimising campaign, and your site search data can provide a treasure trove of search terms that your customers already use.

If you’re only using web search terms for your search marketing efforts, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to strengthen your keyword list.

Mine site search data for keywords in order to boost the success of your campaigns.

It’s no big secret that amassing a solid list of keywords is the key to a successful search engine optimization (SEO) campaign.

However, many marketers create a list only by using the popular terms most used by people searching the web. If this is how you create your SEO keyword list, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to boost the success of your campaigns.

The more keywords you add to your list, the more likely you’ll draw customers to your site.

The keywords that you may not have thought to add to your SEO list are hiding in plain sight: in your own site search data, that is.

There are many tools available for uncovering the terms your target audience is using to find your site, as well as which terms provide the best conversions. With these keywords, you can improve natural web search rankings and deliver targeted traffic to your site.

However, keep in mind that your competition has access to this same information, and may be using the same tools to analyse the same internet search traffic.

On the plus side, the keywords that people use to search within your website, for products or information,  are very likely the same keywords they use when they are searching on Google, Bing, or other search engines.

This customised information can yield ideas for improving search engine rankings and connecting people to your site content faster and more directly.

As you review keyword search terms pulled from site search data, you’ll find that they are as varied and as unpredictable as the people who create them.

The high numbers of unique search terms created by web users make it difficult to monitor and analyse trends, or effectively settle on the words or phrases that people would use to arrive at your site.

Industry estimates say that up to 40% of all search terms are unique. This means the keywords you have worked so hard to develop may really just be educated guesses on how you can attract customers to your site.

By analysing your site search data, and comparing it to the search terms people use to find your website, you will find that web users often type in specific search terms. Gleaning information from your site’s own search box can provide a more focused picture of the right keyword terms for your SEO campaigns. 

For instance, someone may have found your site through a web search for the term “e-reader case.” However, another may have used the term “Kindle leather cover.” Those are the types of long tail search terms around which you can build a keyword campaign.

In addition, these long tail terms typically have higher conversion rates.

Here are some ideas for building keyword lists for site search:

  • Most site search and analytics platforms give you a list of the top keywords and long tail combinations of keywords customers are using when searching your site. You’ll often discover terms that aren’t currently on your keyword list; these are terms that might not show up in lists of web search keywords.

    Use these search terms to fine-tune your SEO campaigns and increase conversions. Our customers often use this tactic for their search marketing campaigns and have seen better results.

  • Use analytics solutions to understand how people search for information on your own website. These tools help you dive deep to find search terms your customers know about – but that may have eluded your attention.

    These terms can be used to deliver more traffic to your site, and it’s also smart to include them in paid search campaigns.

  • To save time, implement a user-generated SEO strategy. Use tools specifically designed to automate keyword list generation. These solutions automatically create product landing pages based on your customer site search activity that are optimised for web search engines.

    It would be too time-consuming for your web team to create these pages manually, especially if you’re optimising a site using hundreds or thousands of site-search terms.

While keyword research is a time-tested marketing tactic, it deserves some fresh tweaks to make sure you’re not missing out on ways to refine your keyword lists.

Take the time to understand and analyse the search activity going on inside your website and incorporate that information into your direct marketing efforts. You may discover unexpected ways to drive better business results.

Vishal Srivastava

Published 9 January, 2013 by Vishal Srivastava

Vishal Srivastava is Team Lead - European Sales at SLI Systems Ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

5 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Nick Stamoulis

Site search data shows you how your visitors are searching on your site--it's data that no one else can get their hands on! You might find some great long tail and variations that don't get that much search volume but have a great conversion rate. Those are the best keywords for interior pages!

almost 4 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

You can change SEO to SEM in this article to cover paid search and content planning too...

almost 4 years ago


Clutch kit

oh that's great to all the user those are work on seo...............thank you

almost 4 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

Thanks for raising the awareness of this, it's so often overlooked but the data can be very valuable. Although, you will need to check the % of visits that included a search, the data won't be as beneficial if only a tiny percent use the internal search.

I also think this data is beneficial for information architecture and improving how users navigate the site and speed up conversions. If they search for something it means they can't obviously see it from the landing page - so sort it out!

almost 4 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

Hi Anna - I'd disagree with this statement "If they search for something it means they can't obviously see it from the landing page - so sort it out!"

Through user research of many sites, I've found customers can become so used to looking for and using site search that they don't bother to look for the category/item in the page or via navigation, so I'd just temper this and suggest its worth looking at how and why your users (for your brand/website) use site search before putting this down to bad Information Architecture or User Experience.

Much of this also depends on what stage you're at; if at the purchase stage and visiting a retail site I'd most likely use site search, whereas in research mode I may not...

almost 4 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

Hi Depesh, that's a fair point, it really does depend on the type of site as to whether or not that will be the case. I have worked on sites that could do with a redesign in the past and used the site search data to show which pages need better navigation/visibility, but you're right that in some cases the natural navigation process will involve a search rather than reading the page.

As with everything web related, it depends on the nature of the site and users!

almost 4 years ago

Vishal Srivastava

Vishal Srivastava, Team Lead - European Sales at SLI Systems

Based on the above comments I would like to share few stats and importance around site search...

The single most important page on your site is the site search page.

In pursuit of their goal, users often rely on search as their main hunting strategy.

When people arrive at a site, 43% use the search box

30% of all activity on websites is search.
Visitors who use Site Search convert better than non-searchers. Why?

Search is a fundamental component of the Web user experience and is getting more important every year.

Source: Marketing Sherpa, Useit.com, identry.com

almost 4 years ago


walky talky radios

Hello thankyou for your suggestion on this article it
is sincerely helpful, we have been looking for advice
for a while and this has been good for us to read,
looking for the radio to suit what we'd like isn't simple.
Thankyou again

almost 4 years ago


jeremy speiser 

Kind information

over 3 years ago

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