The Google Analytics 4 site search report can help you track what users are trying to find on your website.
This information can be found in the view_search_results event in GA4. This is an enhanced measurement event, which means it’s already set up for you upon launch. (So long as you don’t turn it off.)
If your Google Analytics site search settings are properly configured, too, then you’re ready to get started.
- Site Search Report in Reports
- Site Search Report in Explore
Google Analytics 4 Site Search Event
The official GA4 event for site search is view_search_results.
This is activated by default in your enhanced measurement events.
GA4 view_search_results Parameters
The search_term parameter is included in the view_search_results event by default.
You can add additional parameters with additional query parameters in the advanced settings of your Site search event. (See previous screenshot.)
This will allow you to see data concerning the view_search_results event, the search_term parameter and any other custom parameters you add.
GA4 Report: Track Site Searches
There are two ways to look at a site search report in Google Analytics 4: In the Reports tab and in the Explore section.
Site Search Report in Reports
In your Google Analytics 4 dashboard, click on reports on the left sidebar.
Then click Engagement under the Life cycle menu. From there, click on Events.
When you scroll down, this will show the 10 most popular events based on how many times they have been triggered.
Scroll down to view_search_results. If you don’t see it in the first 10, you can either add more rows to the report by changing the number in the dropdown next to “Rows per page,” or you can type “view_search_results” into the “Search…” bar at the top-left portion of the table. (Not the main GA4 search bar you see in the following screenshot.)
This will tell you (from left to right) how many times the view_search_results event has been triggered, the total number of users who triggered it, how many times per user the event was triggered and the total revenue generated by this event.
All these numbers will be based on the time frame you have selected for the report.
You can change this at the top-right portion of your dashboard screen. The numbers should then change as well.
Now click the “view_search_results” event in the table. You will be taken to another page with data limited to that event.
Scroll down slightly and you’ll see a widget that allows you to look at data for parameters associated with this event. When you click the dropdown, you should see a “search_term” option.
This will show you exactly what people searched for on your site. But there’s a catch: this only shows data for the last 30 minutes.
What if you want to see the search terms used on your site for the entire date range you selected?
The best way to do that is in the Explore section.
Site Search Report in Explore
Here’s how to see the exact search terms users are using within your site. (Not to be confused with the keywords people use to reach your site from search engines like Google.)
Click the Explore tab on the left sidebar menu in your GA4 dashboard.
Start a new “Blank” exploration by clicking the “Blank” option.
Now follow these steps:
1. In the Variables column, select your desired date range
2. Click the + sign next to DIMENSIONS
3. Search for “Event name” (found under “Event”), check the box next to it
4. Search for “Search term” (found under “General”), check the box next to it and click “Import”
5. Click the + sign next to DIMENSIONS
6. Search for “Event count” (found under “Event”), check the box next to it and click “Import”
7. Double-click “Event name,” “Search term” and “Event count”
These should now have populated the Tab Settings column. So long as there have been site searches within your selected date range, you should see data on the right.
Tip: Instead of double-clicking dimensions and metrics from the left, you can also drag them. In this case, double-clicking is fine because by default, the DIMENSIONS go into the ROWS section and the METRICS go into the VALUES section.
The DIMENSIONS can also go into the COLUMNS section, but we’re not going to do that for this report.
One more thing: The order in which the dimensions are placed (from top to bottom) in the ROWS or COLUMNS section is the order in which they will appear (from left to right) in the data visualization window.
8. Scroll to the bottom of the Tab Settings column and click the box below where it says “FILTERS.” Now select “Event name.”
9. Then choose the “exactly matches” filter and select “view_search_results” as the event name.
10. If you have a high volume of searches on your site, change the number in the “Show rows” number in the dropdown menu to as high as 500.
Your dashboard should now look something like this:
Not big enough? To see your data in an even larger window, minimize the Variables and Tab Settings columns by clicking the small horizontal lines highlighted in the previous screenshot.
What are the benefits of having site search on my website?
The Google Analytics 4 site search report can tell you a lot about what user’s want to see from you.
Here are some benefits of having site search on your website:
1. Easier for users to find content
Depending on how your site is structured, it may be easier for someone to find content by searching than by navigating.
2. Reinforces existing content topics
If people are searching for things that are already on your website, that’s confirmation that you’re providing information on relevant topics.
3. Gives you new content ideas
If people are searching for things that are NOT on your website, these could be hints as to what topics you should create content for next.
For example, let’s say you have a flowers website. Imagine that your “roses” content performs well.
While checking the report you just set up, you notice that people frequently search your site for content related to “tulips.” The problem? You don’t have any content about tulips.
If the volume is high enough, this could be a hint to start creating some high-quality tulips content.
Why aren’t I getting more searches on my site?
If you’re not getting a lot of searches on your site, here are two possible explanations:
1. Your website doesn’t actually have a search bar
If this is the case, check within your CMS to see if it’s possible to add one. You can also ask one of your site developers about adding one.
2. Your site search bar may be hidden
Most site search bars are in the page’s header, so that’s probably where most users would expect to find it.
Here’s what the search bar looks like on Amazon:
If your site search bar is located somewhere else, your users may be less likely to utilize it.