Tracking Image Search in Google Analytics

Google Analytics handles search traffic from image search the same as any other organic query. The search term will appear under Sources/Search/Organic and the keywords will be reported the the same way as one from the blended search results page. Fortunately there are ways to differentiate and identify different kinds of organic search traffic using Google Analytics, if you do not mind creating new filters and profiles.

Identifying what kind of Search

Identifying what kind of search

Google Analytics provides a number of tools that make this possible, such as a new profile for the web property you want to use this with a a few simple filters. The filters in Google Analytics provide a lot of additional functionality. They can be used to exclude certain audiences from the reports, manage how additional variables are handled and alter how and what information is displayed. Tracking other search types in Google Analytics will require some of the functionality of the last two.

Referrers and Search

All traffic from one site to another will pass a referrer. Even in the case of Google’s SSL search, a referrer is still passed, even if it does have important information stripped out of it. This referrer is why it is possible to identify image search traffic.

http://images.google.com/imgres?q=...

Traffic from image search will include imgres in the referring URL in this position, at least for the moment. There are other strings that appear here depending on the link that is clicked. Others include url, search and adclk. There are a few ways to monitor these referring URLs coming from search engines and two of the easiest are using the Firefox plugin Live http Headers or setting up a profile in Google Analytics to report on full referring URLs.

Profiles and Filters

It is important to start with a new profile whenever you plan to implement new filters. Leaving one profile untouched gives you at least one set of reports to use to check the others against, especially if something does not work out as planned.

First Filter

First Filter

Once a new profile has been set up, the filters are very easy to implement. Create a new filter and use the following settings:

  • Select “Custom Filter/Advanced” as the type
  • “Field A -> Extract A” needs to be set as:
    • Referral / (imgres|search|url|map)(\?)
    • This will look for and match to the strings included in the regular expression. Add other strings as needed. This is where it is useful to keep an eye on full referring URLs.
  • “Output To -> Constructor” needs to be set as:
    • Custom Field 1 / $A1
    • This will select the string in the first set to be passed as a variable to the next filter.

To take the string extracted from the full referring URL and associate it with the search term to which the visit is linked, you will need another filter. This one takes the string from the first filter and will add it to the end of the search term.

The second filter

Second Filter

  • “Field A -> Extract A” needs to be set as:
    • Custom Field 1 / (.*)
    • This will take the value set as Custom Field 1 in the previous filter and make it available to the Constructor.
  • “Field B -> Extract B” needs to be set as:
    • Campaign Term / (.*)
    • This will take the campaign term (search term) associated with the visit and make it available to the Constructor.
  • “Output To -> Constructor” needs to be set as:
    • Campaign Term / $B1 ($A1)
    • This will take the string from the referring URL, such as imgres, and add it to the end of the Campaign term in brackets.

Once these filters are finished, ensure they are in the correct order, and the search terms under the traffic reports should be displayed with the strings defined in the first extract in the first filter.

Image Search Filters

Image Search Filters

While the example here was created to tag search terms in Google Analytics with the kind of search that they were, that is not all this can do. Ultimately these filters are just taking a string of characters from a referring URL and adding it to the end of a value that is displayed in Google Analytics.

There is more that can be done with these kinds of tools. Even if all you want to use this for is categorising Google search queries, it is still worth keeping track of the full referring URLs sending traffic to a site, and Analytics makes it easy. All you need is some way to take the referring URL, and then show it as a custom variable, perhaps even as a “User Defined” one.

Works in online marketing, runs on coffee and has a web design background. I maintain a few blogs to collect ideas and interesting stuff about the Internet, marketing online, coffee and technology.
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One Response to Tracking Image Search in Google Analytics

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  1. rachit says:

    Thanks for giving useful tips.I am looking for “how to filter image search in analytics account by which i can find out how many visitors are arriving via actual search.Send me solution for the same….

    Thanks

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