If your website has an internal search function, it’s a good idea to always be working on your internal search statistics. If you want to stay one step ahead of your users, you can create an annual cycle detailing search queries by month. Then you can track and measure which areas need to be prioritised and given more effort.
We recommend that you look at the most popular search terms on your website at least once a month, and then perform those searches yourself to see if the results are useful and up to date.
When creating an annual search cycle, the check is based on the search terms used in the past month. Some of them may be seasonal and might not be relevant until next year, so it's important that you document these search terms clearly for later use.
User information needs vary during the year, but search patterns typically stay the same - allowing you to predict likely search terms next year. Therefore, we recommend that you put together an annual cycle to show an overview of which search terms are being used during each period.
Try these steps as a guide towards initiating your annual cycle in search:
- Examine the most popular search terms for each month
- Fill terms into an Excel table where you place the months side by side. It's best to remove plural endings, synonyms, etc.
- Sort the terms alphabetically for each month. This will create an overview and help you distinguish between the terms to see if they appear in most months, or only in a few months.
- Ensure terms are easily identifiable which are specific to that month/or quarter.
Having this overview at hand, you can supplement your monthly/quarterly check of search terms with a check of the terms that are expected to be relevant next month/quarter. With a good internal search engine program, you can create search term rules and quick links if the results for a search are not excellent. Doing this helps ensure that the users find exactly what they're looking for. Additionally it helps keep your content up to date, accessible and ready for SEO.