When it comes to improving ecommerce site search, marketers and website managers are often their own worst enemy. For a large website with thousands of visitors, even the most miniscule improvement in the number of conversions has an impact on revenue. Analyzing the data coming in from the website, blog, marketing automation and CRM systems has become a science.

So why aren’t more digital marketers using their website‘s internal search bar to move the needle?

We’ve assembled 15 tactics that marketers and website administrators can implement to improve site search engine to see a higher conversion rate.

EbookThe Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

The Big Picture

  1. Let go of outdated beliefs about site search. It’s time to start paying attention to your search engine. Econsultancy found that due to the higher level of intent, site search bar users convert at a rate of five to six times higher than their counterparts not using a search engine. If you’re not paying attention to site search, like most marketing and web teams, you’re certainly missing out.
  2. Understand the role search plays in your user experience. Where does your site search results page land in terms of traffic? Does the frequent path of users include a specific search term? The analytics engine on your website can help you answer this to see if your users are using the search function at all, and at what stage of their process. After this, try to find out what type of content visitors are seeking to provide more relevant results.
  3. Use the language of your customers rather than your own. Every company has their own internal jargon they use for what they’re doing and often their own view of how life-changing their products are. A searcher on your website won’t know your buzzwords. Spend some time talking to a sample of customers and find out how they view your products and services. Then position your message accordingly, such as with natural language processing.

Better Design

  1. Let users organize results. Filters and facets make it easier for a web user to narrow down what they need. Don’t provide too many; it can quickly get overwhelming. Faceted search should not outnumber the list of results. Consider facets by content type (blog post, website, customer portal, etc.), or by product line as a start.
  2. Place your search box where a user can find it. Make your search box at least 25 characters wide and put it in an obvious spot on the page. You can also A/B test the placement to see users prefer one over the other, which you can tell through an uptick in usage.
  3. Make your search result pages visually interesting. It’s a shame when beautifully designed websites lead to a bland, text-only search engine. Invest just as much time in making your search result pages visual by including small previews and images.
  4. Don’t forget mobile. Your website needs to be optimized for mobile, and so do your search results pages. It’s important to go beyond just having a functional search box for mobile app users: make changes that correspond with having a small screen space, such as limiting the number of facets or the character count of result descriptions.

More Search Functionality

  1. Search the actual content, not just metadata. If someone searched blog.coveo.com for “search user experience best practices,” just searching metadata like a meta description may not put this blog post on the first page for results. There’s some valuable content in here for that search term! This is why it’s not just metadata that needs to be indexed by your search solution.
  2. Help your users with suggestions. Users don’t know what they don’t know. Thanks to external search engines, they are comfortable with – and even anticipate- a search box with autocomplete query suggestions.
  3. Experiment with language around the search box. Testing small language changes can make a big difference in search bar usage and conversion rates. Try swapping terms like ‘Go,’ ‘Find,’ or using a magnifying glass icon to see what your audience prefers.
  4. Don’t let users get to a “dead end” of no results. “No results” is a clear invitation to go over to an external search solution; i.e., your competitor. Avoid losing your users by finding other ways to engage them, like providing internal links to a “contact us” email address, FAQ page, or the customer service line.
  5. Capitalize on users’ context to narrow and boost results. Context matters. If your visitor is mobile, how they came to your website, the previous pages they looked at – all of this needs to feed into the search results page the visitor’s search query returns.

Looking Ahead

  1. Create a roadmap for how your site search experience will evolve with your website. Digital marketing is a fast-paced world, just as customers’ expectations are constantly evolving. Don’t let your website roadmap live in a silo separate from your search engine management. Strategize how your search solution capabilities can continually enhance the website user experience.
  2. Leverage search activity in your content strategy. Your search engine queries are your visitors telling you directly what they’re interested in from your site. Looking at the queries that return no results or results with low click-through rates is a great place to start building your content strategy and also feeds your keyword research.
  3. Track, track, track. Just like your website, increasing the conversion rate from site search is an ongoing process. Make it a habit to track the impact of every search function change on the total number of conversions.

We’re Here to Help

By bringing the above 15 tactics together, you can improve your site search and watch conversion rates increase. And you don’t need to go about it all on your own – we’re here to help:

Our experts are ready to help you:Request a free site search assessment now

Ready to start optimizing your site search? Learn more about how Coveo delivers relevant search experiences in commerce.

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About Ashley Garst

Ashley Garst is the Senior Content Editor at Coveo. She has more than a decade of weaving words together and is a ninja editor, slicing extraneous prose like fat from a steak. A California native, when she’s not at work, she’s running in the hills of San Francisco, practicing her creative writing, or playing with her cats.

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