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Blog > How to Set up Google Analytics Site Search Tracking

How to Set up Google Analytics Site Search Tracking

posted on May 5, 2017

by Maria Lahiffe

Google Analytics is a free tool which you can use with any website, to give you insight on how visitors use your site, how they arrived, and how you can keep them coming back.

Volunteer Ottawa is pleased to include on our faculty, a local expert on Google Analytics, David Bird, who teaches a workshop geared specifically to Non-profits. David also keeps a very informative blog on his site, with step-by-step instructions on many aspects of digital marketing.

Today’s blog post is a summary of his instructions on how to set up site search tracking. This is one way to know what people want to know when they visit your site, and what search terms they are using to find it. That will give you essential insight into what keywords your stakeholders use, which you can use to populate your site and AdWords.

Difficulty: easy to moderate
Time: less than 10 minutes

Step 1: Log into Google Analytics and click Admin


Step 2: in the View column, click “view settings


Step 3: Scroll to the bottom of the page and find the Site Search Tracking option, under Site Search Settings.


Yours will probably be in the “off” position.

Step 4: Click the button to turn it “on”.


This will cause the Site Search Settings menu to open up. The most important field here is the “Query Parameter,” which tells Google when a search is being done on your website.

Step 5: Open a new browser tab and go to your website. Enter something, anything into your search box. In the example below, I searched for “great workshops”




Step 6: Look at the URL bar at the top of your browser window. You’ll see

  1. a question mark, followed by
  2. a letter or a word, followed by
  3. an “=” sign.

Some sites use the letter “s”, some use “q”. The Volunteer Ottawa site uses the word “searchterm”. Whatever you see in between the question mark and the “=” sign is your site search query parameter.

Step 7: Go back to the Google Analytics tab which you left in Step 5, above. Type your query parameter into the Query Parameter box.


To see how to view site search results in Google Analytics, head over to David’s blog post on this topic. He also has a video which demonstrates these steps.

Want to learn more? Come to an upcoming workshop.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to organizational operations. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

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