More On Instant Search

Friday, September 10, 2010 | 10:24 AM

Since this week’s launch of Instant Search, we’ve been asked how to track Instant Search in Google Analytics, and in particular, whether it’s possible to see partial Instant Search queries in your reports.

You actually don’t need to do anything to track Instant Search queries in Google Analytics. All search referrals are tracked just as they’ve always been.

We’ve seen several clever profile filters in the blogosphere that are designed to parse out the values of the “oq” parameter so that partial queries can be easily seen in Google Analytics. However, the “oq” parameter is not related to Instant Search and is often not passed in the request.

Some answers to your other questions:

Should I change my search advertising strategy to serve ads on to partial keywords (e.g. if I sell flowers, should I advertise on “flow”)?
This is not a productive strategy. Please note that ads are triggered based on the “predicted query” and not the stem that the users types in. So, in this example, the partial query “flow” triggers results for the predicted query of “flowers”. The only way someone can see your ad for “flow” is if they specifically searched for that word and hit enter or clicked search. And since you sell flowers, it’s not likely that your ad for flowers will be served alongside such a generic and irrelevant word.

Does this change impact the ranking of search results?
No, this change does not impact the ranking of search results.

What term will I see in Google Analytics if a visitor comes on a partial query?
The keyword analytics sends is not the partial one but the predicted query. If a user was typing "web metrics" but got the search result she wanted at “web met” with the predicted term being "web metrics", then you will see “web metrics” in your Google Analytics reports.

How will this affect my AdWords impression count?
When someone searches using Google Instant, ad impressions are counted in these situations:

  • The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
  • The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
  • The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.”
Many of your questions related to ads can be answered here.

We hope this helps. Feel free to comment below.