Don’t Neglect Your Own Site Search Engine

December 16, 2015

I have come across many a business that has a real focus on driving more traffic to their website through traditional mediums including bromley seo, social media marketing, paid search. All of these (along with many others of course) are all massively significant if your business and website has aspirations of increasing exposure and developing its customer base, I am not doubting that.

However, I think there is definitely a general neglect for one of the most important search engines that your website has that you have total control over. Your on-site search function. The importance of an effective on-site search function is something that I feel is often overlooked and if you get it right it can be massively beneficial. Perhaps even more essentially, it is something that can be irrevocably damaging if you get it wrong. Let’s discuss…

 

10% CAN GO A LONG WAY

If looking at an ecommerce site, it is reasonable to expect to see at least 10% of your traffic engaging with the search bar on your website. When searching, users are in a different state of mind to other website visitors; they have intent. They are specifically looking for a product, a selection of products, a page, a service and you need to make it as easy as you possibly can for them to find it. Often the “out of the box” site search features do not allow you to do things such as redirects to specific pages.

If someone is searching for “delivery” then redirect them to your delivery page.

If someone searches for “returns” then send them to your returns policy page. It is really simple however these things can really help.

On site search

SET UP

Firstly, you must ensure that site search tracking is switched on in you Analytics account (if using Google Analytics) otherwise you will not be able to track the number of searches that are done on your site nor the terms they are searching for. It is helpful to set this up from day one so you can collect as much data as possible.

Google explains how to enable this if you cannot find it…it only takes a few seconds to do!

 

MISSPELLINGS

People cannot spell, so make it easier for them to find what they want, especially if you have got potentially ambiguous product names.

Again, this is the kind of thing that cannot always be done within your CMS so a third party provider of site search can make a massive difference here. Below is a good example of how “cushion” was misspelled to read “cushon” however the relevant search results were still provided to the user.

2

 

Another way to try and combat misspellings is through an intuitive autocomplete which again are available through a number of bespoke providers. These are often fairly sophisticated algorithms that are based on search volume and start to present the most relevant results based on what people have been searching for on your site.

Such a simple idea but often this is forgotten. It works in a similar way to how Google does search predictions as you start to type however they are bespoke for your website and often as you leave the service on for a while you can improve this all the time.

 

SYNONYMS

Trainers – Sneakers – Kicks – Crepes

Ottoman – Pouffe

Sofa – Couch

Hat – Cap – Headgear

 

There are often numerous words that are used to effectively describe the same product and if you don’t set these up there is often a gap between these. This can be especially helpful when our friends from over the pond are searching on your site with all their American versions of our words that they use. This is a really useful tip that can help show more relevant results to your users.

 

This is something that the Conran Shop needs to work on for example:

http://www.conranshop.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=ottoman

http://www.conranshop.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=pouffe

 

DEAD END

Even after your best efforts, there are going to be some times where there are literally no results that you can show for a given query. Don’t send your customers to a dead end results page that says “NO RESULTS”, try and be more helpful like ASOS do. This is not perfect by any stretch however it does try to direct customers to other areas of the site that could potentially be useful. It also shows your most recently viewed products (but I have cut this out of my image below due to embarrassment).

site search

 

PROVIDERS

I have only had experiences with a couple of site search providers in the past but what I have had is largely positive however I appreciate not everyone will feel the same. In saying this I am a big advocate of an intelligent site search function and have seen fantastic results across many websites.

There are a few providers of this service as you might expect and it depends which one you think aligns with your overall business goals and what your budget is for such a project. If you have a medium traffic or higher ecommerce site I would almost guarantee you would see an impressive ROI if you are currently not managing this properly.

Some providers include Nextopia, SLI Systems & Bloomreach…all worth checking out and sure they would be happy to talk.

 

SUMMARY

There are often sever limitations in site search functions that are included as part of any CMS platform for ecommerce so investigate your options. Most of the functions above are available from pretty much all providers of dedicated site search. If you are writing a list of things you want to explore next year then put site search on the list. I personally experienced a 20% increase in conversion rate for users using site search and those who choose to use the function convert at 4 times higher than those who don’t. If you can then get more people to use the search function you can be onto a real winner and generate a seriously impressive return on investment…don’t forget about your own site search engine!