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Custom Search Success Events

Published by Adam Greco on August 13, 2009 All posts from Adam Greco

I know many Omniture clients that spend much of their time using SiteCatalyst for SEO and SEM tracking.  If you are one of these clients, the following will show you a fun little trick that you can use to improve your Search reporting by setting custom Search Success Events.

That Darn Instances Metric!
As a Search marketer, you tend to spend a lot of your time in the various Paid and Natural Search Engine reports within SiteCatalyst.  While in those reports, you would normally use the out-of-the-box “Searches” metric for most of your reporting.  If you stay in the Search reports, life is good, as you can use the Searches metric and any other Success Event to see what success takes place after visitors arrive from a particular Search Engine or Search Keyword.  For example, here is a report that shows Searches and Form Completions coming from various Search Engines:


However, as I blogged about a while back in my Instances post, the Searches metric is really just a renaming of the dreaded SiteCatalyst “Instances” metric.  Why is that bad?  It means that if you need to see Searches in any other Conversion Variable (eVars) report, you are out of luck.  For example, let’s say that your boss wants to see a report that shows Searches and Form Completes (and possibly a Calculated Metric that divides the two) by Site Locale (each country in which you do business).  To do this, you would open the Site Locale eVar report and add Form Completes, but guess what…there is no “Searches” metric to add to the report since it only exists in the Search Engine reports!  Rats!

Let’s say you are an eternal optimist and you say, darn it, I can solve this!  After pouring over past blogs, you finally arrive at the perfect answer!  I can use Conversion Subrelations to break the Search Engine report down by Site Locale while the Searches metric is in the report!  So you go back to the Searches report shown above and realize that all you have to do is use the green magnifying glass icon to and break the report down by the Site Locale eVar (which BTW will only work if Site Locale has Full Subrelations enabled).  I’m a genius, you think to yourself!  Then you wait for the report to load…brimming with anticipation only to see this…


Yuck!  What’s up with all of the “n/a” values?  Foiled again by the darn Instances metric!

Don’t Panic!
Don’t be so hard on yourself since if you got that far, you are ok in my book!  Just consider this a well earned lesson on why you have to be careful around any Instances metric (don’t fall for the same thing with Product Views!).  As always, I don’t like to just present problems since the Omni Man is all about solutions!  To solve this enigma, we have to find a way to get around the Instances metric.  At a high level, the solution is to set custom Success Events when visitors arrive at your site from a Search Engine.  I usually set a Natural Search, Paid Search and Paid + Natural Search metrics.  This can be done in several ways, but the easiest way is through the Unified Sources Vista Rule or the JavaScript equivalent known as the Channel Manager Plug-in.  Regardless of how you implement it, once you have true custom success events set when visitors arrive from a search engine, you can use these success event anywhere within Omniture SiteCatalyst which means that you can now create the report you were looking for above like shown here:


The following are some other advantages of using a custom success events for Searches:

  1. You can use these metrics in Calculated Metrics (i.e. Shopping Cart Additions/External Natural Search) without having to rely upon the ExcelClient
  2. You can create Alerts on Paid or Natural Search metrics
  3. You can add some cool SiteCatalyst Plug-ins or advanced features to the new Custom Search success events that make them even better than the out-of-the-box Searches metric (i.e. Avoid back button duplicate counting by using the getValOnce plug-in or Event Serialization).
  4. You have an easy way to create a metric report for Searches (see below) and add it to a SiteCatalyst Dashboard


The only caveat I will give you is that the new custom Search metrics will probably never tie exactly with the out-of-the-box metrics, but in many cases you can make them more accurate and useful.  If SEO/SEM is something that is important to your organization, I suggest you talk to Omniture Consulting and give it a whirl…  Let me know if you come up with any other cool uses for this functionality…

Categorized under Conversion Variables, Dashboards, Plug-Ins, SEO/SEM, Success Events, Vista

  • http://www.fuelinteractive.com Melissa Kavanagh

    Another great post Adam. Thank you. One question – I know that the Unified Vista Rule comes with a cost. What about the Channel Manager Plug-in? Is there a cost for the actual plug-in?

  • http://www.the-omni-man.com Adam Greco

    You need to ask Omniture Consulting or your Account Manager about that…


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