Optimizing Your Site Search
If you have managed to get a customer to your site’s landing page, the hard part should be over. But, more often than it should be, customers will leave empty handed (and often angry) due to a poor site search experience. Fortunately, there are remedies to enhance your site search, and data solution companies such as Lineate, can help. Here are some best practices to optimize your site search tool and improve conversions.
The Front-End: If customers are searching for your search bar, you are doing something wrong. Searching on your site should be easy and intuitive. Visitors should have the ability to explore the site in any way they deem fit, and there should never be a moment of confusion in the UX. This is especially important with the knowledge that nearly 70% of shoppers won’t return to a site that provided an inadequate search experience.
There are simple front-end design changes, such as making the search bar larger and available at all times (such as when you scroll down a page) that can make a big difference.. As CLX notes, Black Forest Décor, a retailer specializing in rustic decorations, changed the size and placement of their search bar, which “resulted in a 20% jump in conversions and an 84% jump in revenue for customers using search.” Putting real thought into customer user experience with your search is always a good first step.
Customizable Search: Whether your business specializes in retail, publishing content, or is a service provider, having a dynamic way for visitors to find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible is key. This is where customizable search makes a big difference. Giving the power to personalize searches to the specifications of the individual user leads to faster search times and increases in conversions. According to Myriam Jessier, over 6 in 10 users “required 2 or more attempts to complete their search on a site.”
In a world filled with both a need for instant gratification and increased noise and distractions, getting the customer to their desired product, article or service on the first try is paramount. Giving the audience the ability to both search by size, popularity, color, date, author/manufacturer, alphabetically, or any other parameter, increases the chances of success for both customer and provider. Customers should have the ability to search in whatever combination of parameters they want, as simply as possible, and your site should have the ability to smartly give them the correct search options. For instance, if you are a retailer selling apparel, the ability to search by waist size should go away if a customer is looking for a hat.
AI Power-ups: A great search engine can correctly suggest what a customer needs before they finish entering it in the search bar. This is achieved through AI-powered autocomplete functionality, which fills in the most-likely item the person is searching for (it can also be constructed so a drop down of possibilities in order of likelihood). What is great about autocomplete that uses machine learning, is that your system sees how items are being searched for, as well as the success of the searches, and automatically makes changes to improve search functionality using this data. AI can also account for misspellings, differences in semantics (some people will search for soda, others for pop), and even searches in different languages. For more detail on custom site search using AI, read Lineate’s Site Search ebook.
Data is Always King: The best thing about focusing on your site search is the treasure trove of free, proprietary data gleaned specifically from your audience. Every search gives valuable information on how your customers look for what they need, which can be used to constantly improve your delivery of the goods and services you provide. Here are just a few of the ways search data can be interpreted, as illustrated by iAcquire:
- Average number of searches per session
- Percent of search sessions that click on search results
- Percent of sessions that exit from search results pages
- Conversion ratio of visitors who use onsite search
- Top search terms and corresponding conversion rates
- Top keyword groupings
- Top locations on the site where onsite search is accessed from
This data can not only be used to provide fast, accurate searches, but can also improve suggestions for add-on items, give insights to the popularity of products and services, and make it so customers never leave your site more confused or frustrated than when they entered.
Of course, interpreting this data can be difficult, but doesn’t have to be. Lineate specializes in custom, data-based solutions and can help with every aspect of improving your brand’s search functionality. Reach out today.