11 Tips for On-site Search Improvement
Marketers no longer have to annoy their Web visitors who use site search by simply returning "no results" for their complicated site search queries. They can offer searchers tips for better results, as IBM does. Econsultancy finds site searchers buy from sites 1.8 times more often than the average e-commerce site visitor.
Still, many e-commerce sites have surprisingly limited on-site search capabilities, including the 34 percent that don't support searches by product name, according to August 2014 research from Smashing Magazine.
"Searches with symbols and abbreviations are not supported by 60 percent of e-commerce websites," writes Christian Holst, co-founder of the Baymard Institute, for Smashing Magazine. "For example, the websites do not map the double quotation mark (often substituted for the double prime symbol: ″) or "in" to "inch." "
This can be a problem for searchers accustomed to seeking exact matches, for instance.
IBM's search results offer the bonus option of allowing visitors to help themselves. Here are IBM's tips to on-site search users:
1. Be Specific. "Try using terms that are unique or try adding descriptive terms," the page suggests.
2. Try Using Synonyms. Then the page offers a "for instance" that truly fits IBM: "For example, instead of searching for 'java classes,' try 'java training.' "
3. Check Spelling.
4. Learn From the Results. "Your search might not return exactly what you are looking for, but scanning the results can help you see the words that were found and give you ideas for other searches," IBM tells visitors. "Adding specific terms narrows your results."
Holst suggests e-commerce marketers look into:
1. Broadening Search Scopes to look for closely related spellings and to search through entire product data sets "to include matches for product names and copied-and-pasted model numbers (16 percent of websites don't)."
2. Add in Product-type Synonyms so users typing in "blow dryer" can find a "hair dryer."
3. Add in Symbols and Abbreviations so visitors querying "in" get results for "inch."
4. Ensure Auto-suggestions Don't Lead to Dead Ends.
5. Pre-fill Queries Onto the Results Pages in case searchers want to drill down.
6. "Implement Faceted Search to suggest filters that match the user's query more closely," he writes. "For example, suggest product attribute filters that apply to a subset of the search results (60 percent of websites don't do this)."
7. Offer Hierarchical and History-Based Search Options on product pages "to support non-linear patterns of search."
What are some other on-site search improvements marketers can make?
Please respond in the comments section below.