Optimizing Onsite Search

Written by Kevin Liew on 25 Jun 2018
8,980 Views • Miscellaneous

Ecommerce proprietors tend to overlook optimizing onsite search in all too many cases. Granted, external SEO is key attracting attention to your site and deserves your utmost attention. However, when those shoppers arrive, they’ll need to find what they’re looking for. You should do everything possible to make your goods easy to find if you want to keep a customer on your site longer – and spending money.

Here’s how you do so.

Prominent Search Bar Placement

Yes, best practices say the search bar should appear at the top of each page on your site. However, what often goes unmentioned is how prominent the search bar should be. After all, it’s easy enough to place the magnifying glass icon at the top right corner of a horizontal main menu and feel you’ve provided the capability adequately. But easy isn’t always best. Search makes money for you. Treat it with the respect it deserves. Give it color, center it, use a “Find” call to action and make it slightly larger than the surrounding elements so it catches a user’s eye. 

Refine Results and Offer Alternatives

Employ an analytics tool to learn what users do after they click on a result. If they go on to buy the item, you’ll know it’s performing well. If they don’t buy it after they’ve found it among your search results, do some digging to find out why not. If you determine it’s because the item is frequently out of stock or has been discontinued, offer a list of related products the user can peruse to find an alternative. In other words, instead of telling the user you don’t have an item, tell them you have some nice alternatives and give them a chance to choose from among them.

Merchandise Search Results

Let’s say a customer is searching for comforters. Yes, you should show them a collection of comforters in the size range they specify. But you can also show them quilts, duvet covers, and bedspreads. After all, these serve the same purpose. Yes, make sure comforters are at the top of the list; but including those other items might lead to a conversion if your comforter collection doesn’t excite them. You can also show related items such as sheets and pillowcases. Keep the emphasis on the term entered, then show the other items under the heading of “people searching this term also looked for…”

Match Image Attributes to Search Terms

Going back to the comforter example above; if the user types “white queen down comforter”, show them images of queen-sized white comforters on a bed, rather than an array of other colors. This way, they’ll see exactly what each option looks like in the color they requested. If you’re running an enterprise ecommerce solutions comparison, be sure your choice offers this capability.

Always Show Them Something

If a customer runs an internal site search for an item you do not have, rather than showing them zero results, ask for clarification. “Sorry, we couldn’t find white comforters. Did you mean white bedspreads?” Run thumbnails of best selling similar products by culling the most popular items from the category within which their requested item resides. Offer a chat feature to help nail down requests a bit more succinctly. Chatbots can handle this quite easily. “We’re having trouble finding your item, but ‘Claire’ is happy to help you look a bit more carefully.”

Every good salesperson will tell you to always find a way to say yes to any question a customer asks. Optimizing your onsite search to perform based upon the above tips will keep you in the hunt, even if they don’t find exactly what they were seeking.

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