Cookies and Analytics Tracking in Search| Hitchhikers Platform

What are cookies?

Cookies are pieces of data stored on your computer by websites that you visit. They allow websites to store information about you – such as your login status, language and location preferences, or any other information – and then retrieve that information whenever you revisit the site.

Cookies are valuable for users because they simply make it easier to revisit sites. For example, not having to log in every time you revisit a site, or the site remembering your preferences or your most recent activity, so you can quickly pick up where you left off.

For developers on the other hand, cookies are often valuable for tracking and personalization. For example, a commerce site may use a cookie to store items that you added to your cart, so they remain in your cart as you browse the site, or if you leave and come back. Similarly, they may use a cookie to store items you recently viewed or purchased, in order to advertise other products you are likely to buy.

Cookies are subject to an evolving set of regulations and laws around the world. Increasingly, it is becoming standard practice to require a user to accept cookies on a website, which is done with “cookie banners” like the following.

example of browser request for cookie approval

Does Yext Search use cookies?

Yext Search uses cookies for two (2) purposes, both of which are fully opt-in / opt-out. They are:

  • Session Tracking - Session Tracking involves tying together multiple searches which are placed one after another by the same user. This involves dropping a session cookie, which is temporary and only persists until the page session ends (e.g., the user closes the browser).

  • Conversion Tracking - Conversion Tracking can be optionally set up in the Yext platform to tie interactions with Yext products like Search (e.g., a click on a search result) to conversions that happen elsewhere on your site. Conversion Tracking involves dropping a persistent cookie on the user’s browser, in order to be able to associate a conversion back to an interaction. You can read more about Conversion Tracking and how we handle privacy and cookies here.

A session is a collection of one or more searches that were placed by the same user within a set period of time, or during the same browser session.

The way sessions are tracked is: when a user enters a search experience, a sessionId tag is placed in the browser’s sessionStorage. This tag persists until the user’s browser session ends; for example, if the browser is closed. While active, the sessionId tag is passed with every new search request, so Yext Search can determine that these searches came from the same session.

Session tracking serves several important purposes for Yext Search.

Firstly, sessions are useful for analytics reporting. Sessions are often the best measure of the number of users who have engaged with your search experience. The number of searches a search experience receives, on the other hand, is often inflated by users clicking between tabs, or navigating forward and backward in the browser, or other interactions that do not constitute a real “new search”.

Secondly, sessions are also used to keep search results consistent between searches. It is possible with Yext Search to set a random sort order for results (see Entity Sorting Overview). One common use case for this is for healthcare providers to randomize the order in which doctors are returned for queries that apply equally to many different doctors (e.g., “primary care physician”, “cardiologist”). With session tracking, we ensure that results are not re-randomized with every subsequent search within a session, so a user sees a consistent order of results.

In addition to the aforementioned cookies, Yext Search also captures clicks and other analytics events using a tracking pixel. This includes events such as clicking on results, navigating within the search experience, and a variety of other categories of events (more details about the analytics events captured by Yext Search can be found here).

All of these events are used to power the search analytics you have access to in the platform, such as your experience’s Click Through Rate. Yext Search does not capture any analytics events outside of the search experience itself.

These events are captured through POST requests made to answers.yext-pixel.com or realtimeanalytics.yext.com (depending on the version of the Search SDK you are using).

Yext Search can and should be integrated with your website’s consent management platform (CMP) for managing cookie consent.

You can choose to enable or disable session tracking, conversion tracking, and click tracking in general for all your users, or you can choose to enable or disable them dynamically for each user, depending on whether they have given consent for cookies on your site.

For instructions on how to configure these properties and integrate them with your CMP, see this guide: Configuring Session and Click Tracking in Search.

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