Using Optimizely for keyword search
I'm the E-Commerce director for a midsize Automotive group in Cleveland, OH. We've been getting familair with the Optimizely platform, the core of our site is search based.
Can we use Optimizely to see what specific keywords people are searching?
Optimizely can do a lot but keyword research is not something it can help you with.
With google not passing along search queries for organic results much anymore this is a concern for a lot of businesses.
You can use Google's keyword planner to give you a very broad idea of what people are searching for in general as it relates to your business for this purpose.
I've seen many companies set up paid search campaigns to help obtain some accurate and actionable keyword data for their businesses. When you do this, though be sure to include several different match types.
Hope this helps a bit.
In general, this is a bit beyond our scope and it's certainly not an out-of-the-box functionality. However, I can think of ways you could gather this kind of data with Optimizely.
Are you familiar with custom event goals? These require you to place a code snippet on the page, which you can surround in conditional code so that the goal is fired only under certain circumstances. Theoretically, it would be possible to create a chunk of code which stores the text from the search bar in a variable and then sends this data along with the custom goal to Optimizely when the search button is clicked.
This data would not appear in our results page, but it's possible to request a CSV file from our support team containing all the raw results. The data about what people are searching for would be available in this file and, with a bit of data analysis, this could provide useful insights for you.
If you end up trying to implement something like this, feel free to reach out to the support team for assistance in setting the experiment up. It sounds like an interesting project and myself or any of the other team members would be happy to assist.