July 5, 2011, 2:20 PM

A digital real estate firm digs into site search data to improve navigation

NameMedia looks to metrics like bounce rate to inform its site navigation.

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Digital real estate firm NameMedia Inc., which operates the e-commerce site BuyDomains.com, enables consumers to buy web site domain names. NameMedia delves deeply into consumers’ on-site behavior data to guide changes to BuyDomain.com’s web site navigation.    

On BuyDomains.com the site search bar is prominently displayed in the center of the screen. And with thousands of visits per day, site search is essential to help consumers find what they’re searching for, says Mary Smucker-Priest, the company’s search engine optimization and pay-per-click manager. “It helps us determine our web site strategy,” she says.

Smucker-Priest regularly examines year-over-year and month-over-month data looking for changes in what visitors are looking for. Any such changes lead her to investigate whether the site’s navigation needs adjustment to make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for without using the search box.

She regularly delves into metrics such as a site visitor’s bounce rate, how many searches a user conducts on each term and how many pages a person engages with after searching on the site.

“If someone searches for a term then immediately leaves the site, it’s clear that she didn’t find what she wanted,” she says. “That may be because we don’t have the inventory or it could be that we don’t have the right content on the site.”

That may lead Smucker-Priest to have her content team craft a blog, for instance, that features the information that visitors were seeking. “If we see that people are looking on the site for something like ‘domain authority’ we can address that. It gives us a reason to develop that information on the site,” she says.

Site search data is unique because its shows a retailer how customers are using a site, she says. “It’s reliable, informative data.”

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