On-Site Search Optimization: What You Need to Know
Imagine this: you walk into a shop to find a pair of jeans that complement your brand-new red high heels. You know exactly what you want: light-washed, blue, skinny bootcut jeans. But there more than 100 different models to sort through to find what you need.
The next step would be to ask a sales agent for help, but to your surprise, there is no one who can provide assistance and you have no other choice but to go through all the options yourself. Would you do that if there is another denim shop next door with sales assistants who are ready to offer their qualified help? Of course not. You’d rather spend your money next door.
With regards to a website’s internal search feature, the customer experience can make or break your business. Users looking for a specific product are actually ready to purchase if they can find what they need right away. And if they know exactly what they want, they expect to find it quickly on a website they access. This is where your site’s search function comes into play.
On-site searchers are 2-3 times more likely to make a purchase than regular website visitors. Forty-three percent of potential buyers will likely leave the site if it doesn’t meet their expectations. On-site search options can be a strong conversion driver if business owners know how to properly implement such a function on their website.
Properly implemented internal search functions reduce the number of clicks and minimize the effort potential buyers have to make on their way to conversion by ensuring a maximum convenience and relevance. On-site search options are a valuable asset and can do more than improve conversion rates.
Additional benefits of an internal search feature include:
- Better UX
- Stronger engagement
- Improved loyalty
- Enhanced reputation
- Higher rankings
- Well-informed decision making
The importance of setting up and optimizing search features is obvious, yet 84% of online businesses don’t pay proper attention to a website’s search functionality.
Search functionalities are simple to set up, but there’s a little more to it. Making sure it serves its actual purpose – improving conversion rates – is more challenging. As you set up your search functions on-site, keep these things in mind:
#1 Search Bar’s Visibility
This seems like a no-brainer, but so many websites fail to place their search bar where everybody can easily see it. It should appear in your header or at the top of your sidebar.
Modern website designs tend to be minimalistic, as this has a better effect on UX optimization. But when it comes to a search bar design, it’s important not to overdo it to the point where it gets confusing. It’s great when a website’s design feels and looks good, but users should be able to easily find where a search bar lives on a site.
#2 Search Bar’s Width
If your website users don’t have a specific product in mind when they get to your site, they might use short terms to conduct a generic search (e.g. blue jeans). When users type in longer queries (like the above mentioned “light washed blue skinny bootcut jeans” or any other product with specific features), it can be harder to edit the text of the user’s search.
#3 Search with Enter Key
Again, users want to make as few clicks as possible regardless of where they are on a site. Many users find it annoying to make extraneous moves with their mouse. This is a minor detail, but returning search results after users hit the enter key will contribute greatly to more pleasant user experience.
#4 Autofill-Out, Autosuggest and Autocorrect
These three are separate features, but all of them contribute to a faster and smoother customer journey. They give your users more confidence that a search will be successful and the site will return the most relevant results.
Sometimes users find it hard to translate their goals into queries that can be correctly recognized by search functions. Features like auto-suggest can help put your users one step closer to a purchase by suggesting what their search queries should look like.
In a world where people value their time, Internet users are bound to unintentionally misspell words. Ancillary features help solve misspelling by showing users suggestions based on the terms they type in search bar. For example, instead of misspelling “bootcyt”, a user will see the correct term “bootcut” on a dropdown list.
#5 Faceted Search
This is also known as a feature that helps users sort or filter search results. The more offerings you have on your site, the more important it is for you to implement a filter function. Don’t force customers to sift through clutter. Give them an opportunity to narrow down search results quickly by checking the necessary attributes or sorting by price, popularity, availability and more.
#6 “No Results Found” or “Product Not Available”
Websites often return pages with no results when users type in misspelled words or customer queries fail to “speak” a website’s language. Take a closer look at your keyword database if you notice there are common misspellings for specific products or categories.
Also, make sure that your website and your users “speak the same language”. In other words, customers search by typing in the way they speak to find relevant results, but this may not match with how products are titled or listed in your store’s database.
It’s hard to keep an eye on your store’s inventory, so sometimes users will end up on “product not available” pages. This doesn’t contribute to user engagement and leads straight to high abandonment rates.
Keep these so-called “dead result pages” live by offering relevant alternatives and recommendations, even if the original product is sold out.
#7 Web Analytics
Your website’s search functionality can give you some valuable insights on your overall user behavior, including: what works, what’s yet to be improved and how to identify, enrich and refine your keyword database. Search reports tell you what users are searching for on your site.
You might be surprised to learn that people are using some search terms you may not have accounted for. Search reports can give you ideas about new products or product categories that you should include or what new keywords to implement for your products to get even better results.
One of the main objectives of on-site optimization is to create an excellent user experience that will lead to better engagement and higher conversion rates. Creating a faster, smoother and hassle-free search experience will help you decrease abandonment rates, retain users and turn them into happy and loyal clients.