Very important! If you have noticed, I wrote up a small heat map to be displayed in the sidebar and on the main search page of this blog. The search and data collection process is a slightly intelligent and tries to match up search terms and group them by usage. It then chooses all searches performed within the past 24 hours and displays them in a heatmap sorted by propensity of the search phrase. The 24 hour time period keeps the search phases in the heatmap turned over regularly and retains the interest of returning visitors.
Why did I do this? I put it together because I believe that there is a lot of power (and thus clicks, pageviews, eyeballs) in searches. I had noticed the Eurekster Swiki on TechCrunch and was impressed by the power of the system. I tried to emulate it on weblogtoolscollection.com with little success. To be fair, we have nowhere near the numbers of TechCrunch (TechCrunch has approximately fifteen to twenty times the traffic of this blog) and the Eurekster sWiki for this blog did not catch on. I still wanted to know what people were searching for so I knew what my readers are looking to find. So to make a long story short, I added some code to my customized search engine to capture the search data and then spit it out in a heat map format that is easy visualize. I like the results that came out of this little test and apparently so do you.
Here are some statistics on running the heatmap for a 48 hour period following the introduction. Now bear in mind that I have no data on searches performed from before I put in the heat maps except for daily traffic data to the search page:
- Approximately 2000 searches were performed
- This resulted in 3500 pageviews
- There were a few less than 2400 exits from these 3500 pages (this is an approximation from Google Analytics by using bounce rates, I have no empirical proof of this)
- The search page was often in the top 20 requested pages on this blog during those 24 hours
- The search pages’ traffic is a little more than half the organic referrals from search engines to the WordPress Templates category of this blog.
I would like to release this code as a plugin but I really cannot do so in its current form. It is custom hacked for this blog and makes use of its peculiar data structures. I am trying to come up with a search heat map plugin that works in a default WordPress install but that will take a little time to complete. In conclusion, there is a lot of power in searches. A useful search tool coupled with a way to organize and understand search patterns can really add to the user experience and can really affect traffic numbers. So, what are you waiting for? Click on one of the popular seach terms on the right and check it out!
PS: What do you think? Also, what do you think I should call it?