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I heard that it's possible to customize a website content according to the search query the user has entered before accessing the site through external search results page. It seems like a very smart solution I can use to meet the user's needs more ideally. Where can I learn more about this issue? What's the professional term? Do you know websites that customize their content according to some pre-made actions the user Made? What are the limits? Any insights, further explanations and ofcourse great examples will be welcome!

  • Yes, we experimented with this like 10 years ago. Didn't measure the results (this was pre Google Analytics so all analytics software were very expensive). We took a bunch of search queried that contained the brand name and a product category and placed short cuts to those categories "above the fold". Worked like a charm and I believed it counts as good usability. What I've understood Google has changed this so we cant parse the queries anymore. – Tony Bolero Nov 24 '14 at 22:39
  • So the only way i could do it was with google? – user28168 Nov 25 '14 at 7:28
  • Well, it was the only search engine we experimentet with. – Tony Bolero Nov 25 '14 at 12:52
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If I understand your question correctly, you're trying to learn the user's inbound search terms and tailor your content accordingly, correct? You used to be able to do this by looking at inbound search terms from Google, but as of 2013, Google encrypted almost all searches so that it's no longer possible.

It's a boon for privacy, but a defeat of a large segment of content marketing--namely, personalization. Many content management systems have integrated products or features built on the ability to build marketing profiles of users based at least in part on their inbound searches, but that ability went poof with Google's decision. e.g., Sitecore, Oracle WebCenter Sites, etc.

It's possible to manually knit together different metrics in various analytics packages to get an idea of inbound search terms, but we've largely lost the ability to do so automatically, and to build profiles from those terms.

The products I mentioned above (Sitecore, WebCenter Sites) are examples of content management systems that have personalization features. They're not reliant only on inbound search to build profiles to tailor content. You can also tailor content based on user behavior once on the site. For example, if you look at 3 pages having to do with boxing classes, my CMS might give you a high score for boxing, and show you content conditional on that high score--like a discount coupon for a boxing class.

  • So in other words - I don't have any way to know what the user searched before getting my site? With cookies ofcourse I can change the content according to inner "activities" the user made in my site. Is it something I can take some steps further? – user28168 Nov 25 '14 at 7:32
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    Your analytics package may include a metric for "inbound search terms" but it won't include Google, so it's fairly useless. (Unless you're in a country where Google isn't the search leader.) But you can make some educated guesses on search terms by looking at your entry pages metric. e.g., if there are entry pages that surprise you, you may have content there that matches people's perhaps unexpected search terms. You can probably swap content based on behavior without using a CMS (i.e., programmatically). It's not my skillset. It's also an implementation question, not for the UX community. – cathro Nov 25 '14 at 14:59

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