Search Analytics for Your Site Blog

Conversations with Your Customers

Posts written by Louis Rosenfeld

  • Bad news, good news

    Posted on

    I owe you an update! And I’ll keep it short.

    First the bad news: Marko Hurst has had to opt out of co-authoring the book. We’re both really disappointed. I very much wanted and was glad to work with Marko: not only does he bring an exceedingly rare quantitative perspective to UX, but he’s a great person. Fortunately I did get to work with Marko: he’s changed the way I look at measuring UX, and in the process he’s made a huge impact on the book.

    Speaking of the book, the good news is that it’s finally done! It should go to the printer next week. That means it should go on sale during the second week of June. You have no idea how happy and relieved I am.

    if you want to be the first on your block to pick up a copy, sign up to be notified when it goes on sale. We’ll also send you a code that’ll get you a nice discount when you purchase it directly from Rosenfeld Media. You can also find out via our new free monthly newsletter, the Rosenfeld Review.

    In the meantime, whet your appetite by reading what some really nice, really smart people have to say after reading the book’s manuscript. Thanks, folks.

    Helping Children Find What They Need on the Internet

    Posted on

    In a recent article by Stefanie Olsen of the New York Times she describes some of the things that Search Engines do to make using them a little easier such as using the Arial typeface because its considered more legible than other typefaces or bolding keywords in the link and snippets of your results pages. And as we all know, “search” is not perfect at the best of times. Or what do you do if you get stuck? Now what if you are a kid?

    As you might expect things get a little more difficult right from the start. Why? Think about how search works for a moment. Search is based upon entering a keyword(s), which requires the use semantics & language. A child’s grasp of language is typically less than that of an adult, who also tend to be the ones creating much of the content that children are seeking. Children also tend to think about things as questions, not as a straight keyword entry. Now, what about the goals of a child might differ from an adult – for starters how about using search as a starting point for homework? Again, well, what can I say — it sucks to be a kid of you are using a search engine.

    So if children are already at a deficient when it comes to search what can be done to help them?

    One simple method by showing related searches or other content like video, images or news at the bottom of the page. A search on the word dolphins, for example, shows a set of related searches, (sharks, bottlenose dolphins) and two YouTube videos of dolphins at play. Ms. Druin called the bottom of the screen “valuable territory” because children often focus on their hands and the keyboard when they search and see that space first when they glance up.

    Stefan Weitz, director of Bing, said that for certain types of tasks, like finding a list of American presidents, people found answers 28 percent faster with a search of images rather than of text. He said that because Bing used more imagery than other search engines, it attracted more children. Microsoft says Bing’s audience of 2- to 17-year-olds has grown 76 percent since May. “My daughter who’s 5, her typing skills aren’t great, but she can browse images of various dog breeds through visual search,” Mr. Weitz said.

    Future trends in search may also be helpful to children. The move toward voice-activated search like the Google voice search on iPhones and Android phones and audio and video search will prove beneficial to children with limited abilities, experts say.

    (*may require registration)

    New Google Analytics Features For the Holidays

    Posted on

    Just a quick update on some new features that Google Analytics is now providing – post

    Be sure to check out the “Annotations” feature and video. It is what I consider one of those “Doh! Why didn’t we have it this all along” features that would make a User Experience professional proud to have figured out the disconnect between an offline task and something that should be part of the system. Enjoy!

    Google Analytics Adds 8 New Features

    Posted on

    As some of you may or may not know, Google Analytics is a free enterprise analytics tool that lets you track various actions that your visitors take on your site. Recently they’ve been adding some great new features that hep you not only track visitors better, but better data analysis to gain greater insights to help you make better decisions.

    In my new post,, I break these features down one-by-one and included some videos in case you don’t have Google Analytics or would like to see it in action.

    How you design your search results impacts what gets clicked

    Posted on

    When most of us think about search engine result pages (SERPs) we often think of and therefore often revert to designing “list results”. We can thank Google & Yahoo for that. When it comes to displaying copy (articles, blogs, etc) based content that’s all well and good for your SERPs need to be scannable and contain text, but what about when results that can be chosen visually, such as an image/video gallery or eCommerce products? Then a “grid view” becomes a great option, or does it? The answer is… “it depends”.

    It depends because in the wonderful world where UX and Web Analytics are woven together the experience that you are designing for is (should be) first rooted in a business goal (yes even before a user goal, trust me) and the decisions that you make along the way affect the outcome(s) of that goal(s). Do you want the majority of your clicks going to the first item or would you like them spread out? That decision alone could mean thousands or even millions of dollars to you or your client. How about how many to show on an entire page or in a single row? Will 4, 5, or 10 make the most impact? What questions should you ask your analytics people? The possibilities alone can be maddening to ponder, not to mention what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that actually mean something useful (and I don’t mean pageviews and bounce rates) that can be tied to your design so it can be optimized over time.

    Fortunately along with best practices there is a great deal of things that we analytics folks can measure and inform you about. And when those measurements are tied to a Monetization Model (a business model that guides you on how you will make or save money) things quickly fall into place. Lou and I have talked quite a lot on this and is something I use on all of my projects, so we’ll be including it in the book, as well as future posts, but in the mean time we found a lovely post to wet your appetite. Enjoy! Displaying Search Results: Grid View or List View?

    Input please? Draft chapter on integrating UX and WA

    Posted on

    Marko and I just wrapped up a draft of our book’s third chapter; you can download the PDF here (703Kb). We’d love your feedback on it, ideally in comments shared in this blog entry.

    So you have a little context: this is the book’s third chapter. The first chapter is a case study, based on John Ferrara’s wonderful work at Vanguard, that demonstrates the value of site search analytics. The second chapter is an introduction to the topic. So we’ve introduced the topic by both showing and explaining how it works, and making a case for its value to both web analytics (WA) and user experience (UX) people alike.

    This third chapter steps back a bit to explore the connection between WA and UX, and how both of these areas are incomplete forms of user research. After reading it, we hope you walk away with a better and more concrete sense of how they can fit together, as well as a rationale for why they should. We wrap up the chapter by discussing how site search analytics (SSA) is a beachhead for bringing these practices together.

    So this third chapter provides something of a Big Picture for where site search analytics might fit within an organization and, more importantly, how SSA’s “parents”—web analytics and user experience design—could be improved through combining forces.

    The remainder of the book are chapters that get into the nuts and bolts of actually analyzing site search data, and user experience “hacks” based on examples from many organizations that are using and benefiting from SSA.

    OK, here you go; feedback please!

    A List Apart issue on site search analytics

    Posted on

    I recently helped pull together (and write an article for) a special issue of A List Apart dedicated to site search analytics. ALA is a fantastic publication that’s moving from covering web design to focusing on user experience, and I’m grateful that they were willing to devote an entire issue to SSA.

    Avinash Kaushik of Web Analytics: An Hour a Day fame takes a Web Analytics-based approach to the topic in his article, “Internal Site Search Analysis: Simple, Effective, Life Altering!”. My article, “Beyond Goals: Site Search Analytics from the Bottom Up,” is written from a UX perspective. And tying these threads together is John Ferrara with an excellent case study, “Testing Search for Relevancy and Precision,” based on his work at Vanguard.

    Going to press

    Posted on

    Hi, Todd’s publisher here. Good news; Todd’s book, Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide goes to press tomorrow! We’re anticipating it going on sale, right here at the Rosenfeld Media site, at the end of the month.

    What’s the best way to find out when the book goes on sale (and get a discount)? Take 15 seconds and sign up for a publication notification. And take 30 more to peruse these wonderful testimonials from the lucky ducks who got to read the galley.