Lou Rosenfeld is the founder and publisher of Rosenfeld Media and also the co-author (with Peter Morville) of the best-selling book Information architecture for the World Wide Web, which is considered one of the best books about information management.
In Lou Rosenfeld’s latest book he lets us know how to successfully work with Site Search Analytics (SSA). With SSA you analyse the saved search logs of what your users are searching for to try to find emerging patterns. This information can be a great help to figure out what users want and need from your site. The search terms used on your site will offer more clues to why the user is on your site compared to search queries from Google (which reveal how they get to your site).
So what’s in the book?
Part I – Introducing Site Search Analytics
In part one the reader gets a great example of why to use SSA and an introduction to what SSA is. In the first chapters you follow John Ferrara who worked at a company called Vanguard and how he analysed search logs to prove that a newly bought search engine performed poorly whilst using the same statistics to improve it. This is a great real world example of how to use SSA for measuring quality of search AND to set up goals for improvement.
Part II – Analysing the data
In this part Lou gets hands on with user logs and lets you how to analyse the data. He makes it fun and emphasizes the need to play with user data. Without emphasis on playing, the task to analyse user data may seem daunting. Also, with real world examples from different companies and institutions it is easy to understand the different methods for analysis. Personally, I feel the use of real data in the book makes the subject easier (and more interesting) to understand.
Part III – Improving your site
In the third part of the book, Rosenfeld shows how to apply your findings during your analysis. If you’ve worked with SSA before most of it will be familiar (improving best bets, zero hits, query completion and synonyms) but even for experienced professionals there is good information about how to improve everything from site navigation to site content and even to connect your ssa to your site KPI’s.
ConclusionSearch Analytics For Your Site shows how easy it is to get started with SSA but also the depth and usefulness of it. This book is easy to read and also quite funny. The book is quite short which in this day and age isn’t negative. For me this book reminded me of the importance of search analytics and I really hope more companies and sites takes the lessons in this book to heart and focuses on search analytics.