Analyzing knowledge base search activity (Web portal)

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Note : If you joined Zendesk on or after August 21, 2013, you have the Help Center instead of the Web portal. If you landed on this page by accident, see the articles on using the Help Center.

By Jennifer Rowe

If you have a Professional or Enterprise account, Zendesk provides a search analytics dashboard so that you can review knowledge base search terms from the last 30 days. For each search term you can see the number of searches for that term, number and type of search results returned (if any), click-through, and the next action taken.

Analyzing search terms can help you improve customer success. Most end-users look for information in your knowledge base by typing a search query, reviewing the search results, then selecting and reading an article. If they are not successful at any step of this process, they might request support.

Search analytics organizes data into four sets to help you pinpoint potential problems when end-users search for help in your knowledge base:

  • Total end-user searches (regardless of results)
  • Searches with no results
  • Searches with results but the end-user did not click any of the results
  • Searches that resulted in the end-user creating a ticket (due to insufficient results or content)

For each scenario you have an opportunity to make your customers more successful by improving search results and improving your knowledge base content. Doing so will help customers find the answers they need and avoid making support requests.

Search analytics is available in the Professional and Enterprise versions of Zendesk. The statistics are only visible to administrators and agents who have permission to moderate the forums or view reports.

Viewing search data

Search data includes only end-user searches, not agent searches.

To open the search analytics dashboard

  • Click the Reporting icon ( ) in the sidebar, then click the Search tab.

At the top you have four options for viewing search data: total searches, searches with no search results, searches with no clicks (where no search result was selected), or searches that resulted in a ticket being created. Above each data set you can see the number of searches in the last 30 days for that data set.

Click one of the four data sets to see a more detailed graph with a node for each day (the graph for Total shows by default). Hover your mouse over a nod to see the total number for that day. You can change the graph to show the numbers as a percentage of the total. To do so, select % of total searches from the drop-down menu in the graph (this option is not available for the Total data set).

Below the detailed graph you can see search data in a table. The Total data set includes data for the top 500 searches overall. Each of the other data sets filters the top 500 search terms accordingly to show data for searches that had no results, no clicks, or resulted in tickets.

For the Total data set, you can click More at the bottom of the search terms table to see the next 15 searches. You can view up to 500 searches. You can also limit the top 500 searches to only those from the Feedback tab, by selecting Feedback tab only above the search terms table. This option does not affect the other data sets.

For each search string you can view the information described in the following table. You can also click the term in the Search string column to see the associated search results or you can click the article in the Top clicked result column to view the content that was most clicked after the search.

Table 1. End-user search data
Field Description
Search string Exact term the end-user entered in the search
Searches Total number of end-user searches for a term over the last 30 days
Avg. # of results Average number of search results displayed for a search term
CTR % Click-through. Percentage of end-users who clicked one of the search results displayed for a search term.
Tickets created Total number of tickets created immediately after a search
Top clicked result Knowledge base content that was the most selected from search results

Disabling search analytics

Search analytics is enabled by default. If you don't want to use this feature, you can disable it.

To disable search analytics

  1. Click the Admin icon ( ) in the sidebar, then select Channels > Web portal .
  2. Deselect the Forum & Search analytics > Show option.
  3. Click Save .

Exporting search data

You can export search data as a CSV (comma separated values) file so that you can save and analyze the data.

To export search data, click CSV above the search terms table.

You can open the CSV file in a text editor or in a spreadsheet application such as Microsoft Excel or Calc. The first row of the CSV file is the header row, which contains the names of the data contained in the file.

Finding tickets and content related to top search terms

When you are reviewing search terms that resulted in tickets, you might want to find those tickets. The best way to do so is to search for tickets that include the search term and title of the most clicked content for that term. From the results, look for those tickets created in the last 30 days.

You might also want to find content that users are selecting in searches to make sure it's the best content. You can see the most clicked content for each search term in the search terms table for each data set.

There is also a visual indicator for top content in search results. Any piece of content that is associated with a top 500 search term and is a most clicked result appears with a special label in search results (at the end of the content title).

Making changes based on search data

Search analytics gives you insight into what your customers are looking for and where they are failing to find answers.

To make end-users more successful you can analyze search data (review searches with no clicks or no results, look at click-through, notice whether the best content appears in results, and so on), then take actions to improve search results and your knowledge base content.

After you make changes, it will take about three minutes before the content is indexed and can be searched.

Improve search results

You can improve end-user search results by updating content in the following ways:
  • Add tags to content. You can add tags to content so that the appropriate content appears in search results. For example, if you see that end-users are searching for "e-mail" but you use "email" without a dash in your content, add a tag with the similar term to the content.
  • Update content titles. You can rewrite titles to more closely match end-user searches. For example, if your article is titled "Deleting an email account" and end-users are searching for "removing a user from email," consider updating the title.
  • Break content into smaller articles. You can divide large articles into smaller articles to help customers find what they are looking for. For example, instead of "Managing email" consider smaller articles about "Setting up email," "Adding email accounts," and "Deleting email accounts."
  • Update content body text. You can add common end-user search terms to the body of appropriate articles so that the article appears higher in search results.
  • Remove old content. You can remove old content so that it does not clutter search results and confuse your customers.

Improve your knowledge base content

You can improve your knowledge base content by identifying content gaps and updating content:
  • Update existing content. You can update existing content to be more complete. For example, if end-users are searching for how to schedule a backup, and you have an article on running manual backups but not how to schedule backups, consider adding that information to the article. If scheduling backups is not an option, you might want to add that info to the article so that end-users don't continue looking for an answer.
  • Add new content. You can add content for common searches that aren't yielding any search results. For example, if end-users are searching for "accessing email remotely" and no content exist on that article, consider adding that article to your knowledge base.
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  • 0

    Hi Anton - we use the Forums mostly as an Internal Knowledge Base. At the moment, data is only gathered for failed searches (with no answer) by end-users. *For this feature to add value to Groupon UK, we would need it to be rolled out to searches by *Agents. Is this planned? Would it be possible to add a quick fix to our account?

  • 0

    Hi Mathias!  Looking at it from an agent perspective would change things a little (for instance, # of tickets created is no longer relevant).  Also, it is not clear for us what you would want to measure... is it that agent can find the content quickly or that the agent sends relevant content to the the end-users.  If you could tell us more about what problem you are trying to solve, we might have alternatives for you.

  • 0

    In my mind #tickets created is still relevant - but  separate report.

    For us, Knowledge Base (Forums) is designed to support the agents in providing responses to end-users, since we had made the choice to use Zendesk as a mail-only platform.

    So failed searches means the agent looked up for a specific deal but did not find any help - possibly hints at the fact that an article needs to be created.

  • 0

    Hi ZD! This feature is great and I am looking forward to using it. Is there a way to find the exact tickets that were created directly from the forums? 

  • 0

    Love the new search analytics!

    Would be great to be able to somehow manually adjust the top search content. Now that I can see what people are searching for, and the top results it returns, I would like to be able to raise other articles to the top of the list, to improve the quality of content returned (sometimes older content returns top results because of the number of views)

  • 0

    @Nick, as we were designing this, we came up with that same conclusion.  In fact, we are working on something which would enable  you to push articles towards the top of the search results.  We do not have a specific date.

  • 0

    @Vanessa... unfortunately it is not possible to exactly find the tickets created.  When we improve that feature, I am sure it will part of that improvement.

  • 0

    @Pierre - anything @Mathias?

  • 0

    @Mathias... we can see how this would be useful to report failed searches for agent.  Unfortunately, this is not possible today.  We will keep that feature in mind when improving the product.

  • 0

    Hey Pierre! In this post, you write that "Search string" is the "Exact term the end-user entered in the search". When I look at the top 500, I'm seeing pretty specific searches with a high number of searches. For instance, "only 4 pages crawled" is giving me 26 results, but it seems more likely that "only X pages/s crawled" would have that many searches. My question is, are these the exact terms being searched for? I suspect they're not exact match and it would be helpful to know for sure. I'm attaching the CSV export. Thank you!

  • 0

    Is it possible to see the last searches instead of top searches? 

  • 0

    @Pierre, Any updates on the Groupon request to view searches by agents?  We also use Zendesk as our internal knowledge base and need to know what agents are looking for and not finding so that we can add the appropriate content. Thank you!

  • 0

    @Kayla, not update on that.  When we do, we will let you know through our Announcement forums (please subscribe to it).

    @Thomas, this is not possible today.  Would be great to know more about your problem so that next time we could potentially address it.

  • 0

    Hi ZD - great to see improved analytics in the app. A few weeks ago we have added the Feedback Tab to our application and we are trying to asses the effectiveness. We are able to measure the # of tickets opened (through gooddata and Zendesk) and with the search reports we can also get some visibility into the search activity in the tab.

    It will be very helpful if you can add the number of searches in the feedback tab into the CSV export.

    In addition we are using Google Analytics but unfortunately the feedback tab doesn't seem to trigger a Google Analytics events, hence we see no data.

  • 0

    We use the forums as an internal knowledge base and I was wondering if the request to view searches by agents has been completed yet.  It appears to still just show end user searches.  Being able to see what agents are searching for and not finding would be a great benefit and provide insight into what content needs to be added.

  • 0

    we have a confusing situation. We have a Q + A "How do I take advantage of your Uk Price Pledge?" It is tagged "price_match" "pricematch" "pricepledge" "uk_price_pledge".

    We have a instance where a customer entered "uk price pledge - giant defy advanced 1 2014" and they did not get any results.
    However if the customer had entered just "uk price pledge"
    or even "uk price pledge - giant defy advanced" it would have returned the standard response.

  • 0

    Hi Jennifer!

    When a search in Help Center contains multiple words, our search engine treats that string as a single search term. So when your user entered that string, Zendesk search for that exact phrase and didn't find it.

    We've put together some best practices for optimizing search in your Help Center, to help ensure that your users are able to find the content they need. You can find that, along with an explanation of how search works in Zendesk, here: Optimizing your content for search.

    That should help you tweak your content and make more relevant results come up for your users! Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  • 0

    I am studying up on using the search reports and am a bit confused about what your article says I should be seeing and what I'm actually seeing in the interface.

    Unfortunately, I cannot attach a screen shot to this forum article or it would be very easy to illustrate.

    What I'm looking for is where to download the CSV file. And, in general, I'd like to understand why my interface does not match what's shown here.

    In addition, this article refers to updating "tags" and the help Center uses "labels." I'm wondering if this article has been updated for the Help Center. It does say "Web portal" in the headline, but I found it in the Help Center documentation.


    PS: We are Zendesk Plus users.

  • 0

    Hi Barbara!

    You were on the right track with Web Portal vs Help Center differentiation. These instructions are specifically for the old version of Zendesk (Web Portal). You use the Help Center, so the article you're actually looking for is here: Analyzing Help Center knowledge base activity (Plus and Enterprise).

    Hope that helps!

  • 0

    This is helpful, and I appreciate your prompt reply.

    Am I reading correctly that there is no longer the option to download search stats to CSV?

  • 0

    Hi Barbara!

    That's correct; it's not possible to export the Reporting Dashboards in Native Reporting.

    You may be able to use Google Analytics to get the information you're looking for, though. We have a series of docs available with lots of good information on using that tool. You can start here: Google Analytics and Help Center - Part 1: Asking the right questions.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  • 0

    Hi All - I just rolled out our help center and I'd like to know how "views" is defined under the "knowledge base" tab in reporting. Is this total page views or unique users who have viewed the knowledge base?

  • 0

    Hi Michelle! I'm so sorry for the delayed response on this.

    In the Knowledge Base tab in your Native Reporting, "Views" is going to show the total page views, not unique users.

    Hope that helps!

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