Rich Owings

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Can anyone explain why I see URLs that have ?keyword= appended to them, when I look at organic landing page traffic in Google Analytics? I expect to see that when I segment for paid ads, but why is it showing up for organic traffic? Is this traffic that shouldn't be attributed to organic, or is Google just being nice and sharing the query?
 

Conor Treacy

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Are these on entry pages, or could it be part of an internal search? In WordPress, the search string in the URL is usually "?s=" however, that can be changed with various plugins or code. But other platforms, like X-Cart use "?searchterm=", so it's possible maybe it's software on your site?

The first step will be to track if it's the first loaded page for the visit. The next step is what source the traffic came through.
 

Rich Owings

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Hi @Conor Treacy Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm looking at Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, so these should be the first page visited on the site. I'm also segmenting so I'm only looking at Organic Search traffic. The site is on Wordpress and I have no reason to believe that these are internal search queries.
 

Conor Treacy

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Hmm.. if they're landing pages, then that is odd.

From inside Google Analytics, can you check the "Secondary dimensions" and have a look at Browser or screen size and other related? Maybe there's a pattern that they're all under a particular browser or crawler? Are those that are coming into the site, are they hitting a few pages, or just bouncing right out? Also, if you enter the same URL on your site, does anything highlight? Similar to the "?s=word" for WordPress, does the "?keyword=" actually return anything? It doesn't on the sites I tested but figured it's worth asking.

I checked on a few of our sites here, but not seeing it, but it sure would be a nice Google present if it was :)
 

Rich Owings

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In most cases I'm seeing higher bounce rates and fewer pages per session but it's not 100% bounce and 1.0 pages per session.. I don't see a way to check for the crawler but the browser generally shows as Safari and Chrome. However, they are overwhelmingly mobile screen sizes. I can load the pages, either with a specific keyword or with just ?keyword=.

One weird thing is that 99% of these are on their money pages, pages we specifically built to rank.

So just to be clear, you've never seen this reported in GA for organic landing pages?
 

Conor Treacy

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Looking at the WordPress Sites we manage, none of them are using a "?keyword=" tag. All of them are using "/?s=" except for two sites which we changed as we were doing some predictive search (as you type, it finds related words).

With that said, there's very few of the pages that have "?s=" in the URL were a landing page, they were nearly always a search that was done in the search box on the page itself.

So I decided to bring up Analytics for one of the sites looking at 2010 to today.
On there, there have been 54,837 sessions with 29 sessions showing as a landing page starting with ?s=
10 of those sessions have "organic" listed as the medium the rest were referrals (essentially people linking to our results page to show all things related to "bert" for example.)

Of the 10 organics that showed, they were all from September 2019, which in the notes for Analytics it says was a revamp of our website changing themes and moving to Elementor for design. So I'm guessing that we had the search results pages indexed for a few days before they were deindexed again.

(side rant: I wish GA4 had the ability to add notes!)
 

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