For many websites, an internal site search engine is a must-have. However, oftentimes it’s looked at as more of an afterthought than a true conversion optimization tool – and that in itself could be killing your conversion rate. So what should you know about improving your site search and how do you put these tips into practice? Let’s take a closer look.
Site Searchers are 200%+ More Likely to Convert
According to research from WebLinc, on-site searchers are 216% more likely to convert than regular users. And what’s more, Screen Pages shared the results of 21 of their clients, which showed that (with the exception of one case) the average revenue that came from site search was significantly higher than regular users.
But even with these kinds of numbers pointing to the sheer conversion potential from site search, only 15% of companies have resources dedicated to optimizing it. And only 7% of those companies are actually learning from internal site search data and leveraging it in other areas.
42% flat out admit that no one is responsible for site search, and another 42% have it added to their list of responsibilities. But let’s be honest, when was the last time you even looked at your site search? For many marketers and business owners – it’s just there.
And if customers aren’t getting the kinds of results they expect from your site search (or worse, getting links to your competitor’s sites), they’ll simply go elsewhere.
That’s why it’s vital to start paying attention to your internal search engine – and making changes that can lead to improved results for everyone. Here’s how to do it:
Targeting the “Spearfishers”
According to Forrester Research, which did an in-depth report on the importance of site search for retail, businesses should focus on “spearfishers” – those users who come to a site searching for a specific product. Forrester Research found that 43% of visitors to a site go immediately to a search boxes, and searchers are 2-3 times more likely to convert.
That means we need to make it push-button simple for them to do a search, right away. You can thank sites like Amazon and Google for making a prominent search box the first and foremost (and sometimes only) thing users see. But we also need robust, relevant results after the search is conducted.
Search with Autocomplete
Going to the Swarovski.com website without a specific product in mind will instantly lead the user to suggestions. I typed in “blue” and got 10 product suggestions right away. Kohl’s website goes even further to recommend (and show) specific products based on a basic search before the user ever hits enter:
In suggesting specific products (or even showing top results), you’re guiding the user along the path you want them to take before they even make a conscious decision to continue. Essentially, you’re planting product suggestion seeds and allowing them to branch out from there – putting your user one step closer to a conversion.
Allow Users to Filter the Results
There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating to a user than getting a million search results and having to sift through the clutter. U.K. site DIY.com helps their users filter results search pages by all kinds of sorting options, from price to availability and more – letting them narrow down precisely what they want and when they want it by.
Create Dedicated Landing Pages
Based on the data you’re collecting from your site search engine, you may even want to elevate certain products to get more exposure, or demote others that may not be as popular. For those that are getting the bulk of the hits, consider creating a dedicated landing page for that product to help it stand out from among a sea of similar items.
L.L. Bean has custom landing pages for many of its products which include not just the product details, but the best weather/activity levels, additional features and even the technology behind the item:
Offer Relevant Recommendations
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, products go out of stock or are no longer made. What happens when a user ends up on those pages? With most site searches, planting them firmly on a “product not available” page is a sure path to site abandonment. Instead, take a page out of Amazon’s book by offering related suggestions and recommendations.
Bonus points if you can bundle products in a ‘Frequently Bought Together” option.
Improved Mobile Search
And last, but certainly not least, consider your mobile users as well. Typing on a mobile device can be cumbersome at best, and misspellings often lead users to “Not Found” pages even if the product is available. Test out your site search in a variety of devices for ease of use and fast loading. No mobile user is going to wait forever to see 1,000+ products load up on a results page.
Versatile Site Search Platforms
So now that you know what users truly expect from a high performing site search, how do you implement it? There are plenty of free site search engines available – but here is one area where you definitely don’t want to skimp on features. I took a closer look at some of the more promising site search platforms available and here are a few that are sure to make implementing a better site search engine easier than you might imagine:
Swiftype integrates into many popular platforms including WordPress, Zendesk, Magento and Shopify. With intelligent sorting, filters, spell check and autocomplete, it’s a solid search engine with fast indexing and fantastic relevance. Pricing starts at $299/month with a trial available if you’d like to test the waters.
SearchNode is made for e-commerce sites and integrates with common shopping cart platforms such as OSCommerce, Woo Commerce, OpenCart and many more. It can be up and running in as little as five minutes with a JS code snippet. One of the main benefits that sets SearchNode apart from its competitors is its ability to allow users to conduct a site search in 32 different languages.
SearchSprint is an enterprise-grade site search platform that combines search and merchandising tools into one package. It also includes common features like auto-complete, product recommendations and even product quizzes/product finders to let users find the right product for their needs by answering a few simple questions.
As you can see, site search is definitely not something you’ll want to overlook when it comes to new ideas to improve your conversion rate. By implementing a few simple steps to give users more control over their results, you’ll likely start to see conversions and revenue soar as customers find precisely what they need quickly, easily and affordably.
Do you use site search extensively on your site? Do your results with it match those of the research? What do you believe makes a good site search engine? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!
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