September 11, 2019

On a Scale of 0 to 9, How Good is Your Online Store’s Site Search?

When was the last time you checked your site search performance? For many, the answer is we’ve never done it! And that’s understandable – something as small as a search bar tends to get neglected; it often clears the way for bigger and more obvious concerns such as what ROI are we getting on our Google Ads? Numbers don’t lie, though, when they say that site search users are 70% more likely to buy in your online store than navigation users. So, clearly, paying attention to search will pay off.

Without further ado, here’s a 9-point checklist that’ll help you determine how fit your site search is.

#1: Visibility

Can customers see the search field right away? Is it on each and every site? The important thing here is to make the search bar instantly usable, so don’t hide it behind e.g. a magnifying glass icon. Doing this means you’re losing 30 – 40 % of traffic that could go to search and now ends up using worse-performing navigation instead.

#2: Autocomplete

When a customer starts writing a search query, do they have to complete it and hit enter to get the results? Or do you provide them with autocompleted suggestions as they type? Although most people wouldn’t tell you per se that they expect to get these suggestions, they’re used to them. It speeds up the search process and lets you suggest e.g. your 5 bestsellers within a category just when you want to showcase them – when a customer is looking to buy. Also, consider this: we mentioned above that site search users are 70% more likely to buy than navigation users. If we narrow it down to just search, autocomplete delivers twice as many conversions than search bars without it. See how much of an impact it has?

#3: Suggestions

If your search bar offers suggestions, what are they? Just phrases? Or just products? Quality search field should suggest products along with their thumbnail photos, product categories and brands you offer, and trending queries. Feel like trying out how the search field could and should work? Try our demo.

#4: Typos

Here’s a task for you: go to your online store and pretend you’re a customer of yourself. Try to look up a product with intentionally made typos – something like iphhone or mens tsihrt. Do you get what you’re looking for? If not or if you get zero results to the query, you’re losing 10 to 20% real customer searches. To make things even worse, the online store exit rate upon no results page is close to 50%.

#5: Slang and synonyms

Same as above, only this time, try synonyms or slang instead of typos. How about couch instead of sofa? Earplugs instead of earbuds? Or display instead of monitor? Again, if no results come up, you’re losing business.

#6: Query understanding

When you search for a red dress, does your search bar return every product that’s red and every dress? Or does it return every red dress you have for sale? Another example might be this simple query: Samsung phones. If the results contain all Samsung products and all phones, you’re in trouble. Remember that a good search bar works with long-tail queries.

#7: Pagination

Pagination is such an important part of your site performance that we devoted a separate article to it earlier this year.

TL;DR: The ideal way to paginate search results is the one that users don’t have to use at all. In fact, having a high-quality search engine is the most important thing. If, however, you are designing a website and want to give your customers a top-notch experience while browsing, go for ‘Load More’ pagination. It’s faster and more effective than traditional pagination. Read the full article here.

#8: Product ranking and relevance

Each product category has its top sellers. Whether you know them from memory of pinpoint them by looking at your sales records, it’s generally a good idea to include these bestselling products in the results when someone is searching any product within their category. When you type a category in your search bar and hit enter, do these bestsellers come up on the very first results page/positions?

#9: Speed

While real-time functionality is your best-case scenario, our rule of thumb is that customers should always get search suggestions within 0.3 seconds after typing a character and full search results in no more than 2 seconds. Now the question is – how many points did your search score? If you want to know with absolute certainty, you can always try Luigi’s Box’s free analytics. In 14 days, you’ll know exactly how your site search performs, and what you can do to improve it.

Try Luigi’s Box for free or play around with our demo to see how a fine-tuned search bar works.