IA Summit 2007, March 22-26 at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Main conference presentation

Using search analytics to diagnose what's ailing your IA

Louis Rosenfeld, Rich Wiggins

Saturday March 24 2007, 10:30 - 11:15AM

Any organization that has a searchable web site or intranet is sitting on top of hugely valuable and usually under-exploited data: logs that capture what users are searching for, how often each query was searched, and how many results each query retrieved. Search queries are gold: they are real data that show us exactly what users are searching for in their own words. Search analytics—a user research method based on analyzing a site’s search queries—offers many means for diagnosing problems with a site’s information architecture. It can help us:

  • Understand problems with a search system’s interface design, query syntax, and retrieval algorithm
  • Develop and improve metadata and navigation
  • Identify and address content gaps and document titling problems
  • Understand how geography and seasonality impact our users’ needs
  • Improve the design of the other methods we use, and round out those often qualitative standby methods with real, quantitative data

Search analytics goes beyond diagnostics by helping expose new opportunities for improving and impacting an organization’s business strategy.

So far, information architects and other web professionals have been slow to include search analytics in their toolkit of user research methods. Reasons include ignorance of the method, difficulties in acquiring the raw data, and a dearth of good reporting tools. In this presentation, we seek to:

  • Educate information architects about the value and application of local site search analytics
  • Cover the basic nuts and bolts as to how to analyze the data
  • Discuss search analytics-driven methods for improving an information architecture (such as Best Bets)
  • Suggest strategies for addressing common barriers to search analytics.

We’re witnessing a rapid recognition of the value of search analytics among people from a variety of backgrounds, and we hope that our presentation helps crystallize the discussion within the IA community. Our handout will include our presentation slides and pointers to search analytics resources.

Download the audio file for Using search analytics to diagnose what's ailing your IA (thanks to AOL User Experience Design for the audio)

IA Summit 2007