Thursday, November 09, 2006

WebSideStory Sponsors Sound Search Advice

I wasn’t really planning to write about Web analytics for the third day in a row, but the most interesting thing to come across my desk yesterday, apart from the cat, was a white paper “The Other Search: Making the Most of Site Search to Optimize the Total Customer Experience” written by Patricia Seybold Group for Web analytics vendor WebSideStory ( The paper is available here here on the WebSideStory site.

The paper starts with six pages arguing that in-site search is an important way of serving visitors and gathering insights into their interests. It's a bit of overkill but the details are helpful.

Seven more pages then describe a “5-Step Plan to Boost your Results”. (I don’t know why “your” is not capitalized but it's printed that way twice.) The steps are:

1. “Baseline Current Performance and Offers”: assess site performance and staffing.
2. “Cross-Pollinate Internet and Site Search”: identify common in-site search terms and use them in your paid search advertising.
3. “Monitor Site Search Traffic Daily—and React”: adjust offers, site contents and the search results themselves based on visitor searches.
4. “Test Impact of Changes”
5. “Track Site KPIs”

Next comes a brief discussion of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) including a "starter set" of two dozen specific metrics. The main point is that KPIs measuring site performance should be tied to larger corporate objectives. An interesting secondary point is that some KPIs measure site goals while others measure visitor goals, and both are important.

The final section provides a pretty good list of functions that site search engines should provide to meet these objectives.

This is a very good paper: well written, lots of specific suggestions, and no blatant distortions due to vendor sponsorship. Enjoy.

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