Internal site search may seem like an obvious addition to any ecommerce store, and it is — that’s why it’s fairly rare for an online retailer to forgo the inclusion of a search bar at the top of their website. But its power goes far beyond simply helping customers to find what they are looking for sooner. Here’s what you need to know about site search data and what it tells you about buyer intent.
According to eConsultancy, 30 percent of visitors to ecommerce websites use site search. Shoppers like to use search because they often have a good idea of what they want to buy. The search bar connects them with the products they are looking for, providing them with more positive experiences.
These are the shoppers who are looking for specific items rather than just browsing your store. They are at the end of the buying funnel, and thus tend to have higher purchase intent. They know what they want, and there is a good chance that they will convert as a result — in fact, people who use on-site search are over twice as likely to convert as those who don’t.
While providing a positive user experience is essential for any store, site search also provides your business with some powerful benefits. This is because every time someone types in a search query, they provide you with valuable data you can use to learn how they think and what they want, and work out how to drive more traffic and sales.
So you’ve been running site search on your store for a few months, and now you’ve gathered some data. There are many ways you can put this to good use.
First of all, and most simply, you can see the phrases that your visitors are searching for. This provides you with accurate data about which products they want to find, and you can use this in all sorts of ways.
Is one product getting searched for more than others? This could affect how you promote it. For example, you may decide to make it more prominent on your homepage or launch a special offer.
If you use AdWords or Facebook advertising, you also know which products are the most popular for people landing on your site. So now you know where to spend your advertising dollars.
Not only are your visitors telling you exactly what they are looking for, but they are also giving you the exact words they think should correspond to it. This is valuable stuff. The language they use is fantastic for optimizing your pages for the search engines as well as for PPC. You can then use it in your sales copy to make it more persuasive by speaking directly to your customers using their terms.
You might also be able to see which products are becoming more popular over a period of time, and this can help you spot larger trends. Or perhaps shoppers are searching for products that you don’t stock. This can tell you about their expectations for a store like yours, and potentially give you ideas about what to add to your inventory.
Don’t just find out what people are searching for — find out what happens after the search too. Perhaps a high percentage of people searching for a specific product end up leaving the site. They are clearly not finding what they want, possibly due to a product not being in stock.
Rather than showing them no results, you could change this to show related products instead. Or even leave a message telling them when the item will be back in stock.
Many ecommerce businesses claim that they do not have the time or resources to invest in their internal site search, but it is not usually a difficult task. If you don’t have the tech skills to do it yourself, you can always hire a developer to help you, but in general it won’t take long to set up.
The site search tool you choose will depend on which platform you are using. If you are using a CMS like WordPress, there are many different site search tools you can choose from — take a look at this guide for a rundown of some of the best.
There will be different internal search tools available for different CMS platforms, so this could be a factor to consider if you are still at the stage of choosing a CMS. You should also be aware of the availability of cheap starter stores for sale, because marketplace websites tend to run on standard platforms and have the basics set up ready to go. It’s a fast and profitable route to market.
And if you’d rather not get involved manually, or you’re looking for something more sophisticated, you should try Luigi’s Box. It’s an intuitive but powerful analytical tool that can give you easy-to-follow visual representations of your leading website metrics, and even the basic plan gets your email support from the expert team, so there’s always someone to point you in the right direction.
Once you have set up your site search, there are a number of ways that you can get more out of it. Now you know the benefits and how you can make use of the data, it’s time to look at some best practices:
- Emphasize its presence on the home screen and on every page of your site. Make it easier for visitors to find by using a bold color, and don’t hide it away.
- Make sure the search bar is big enough for the typical searches they will make. If it is too short, it might put shoppers off from searching altogether.
- Use placeholder text in the search box such as “Type your search here,” and make sure it disappears when the shopper clicks on it. This can help to encourage more searches.
- Allow visitors to search by brand, product code, and product name to make it easier for them to find what they are looking for.
- Use auto-complete to predict queries as the customer searches for them. Guide them as they shop to steer them towards more profitable items.
- Provide the option to search by department, especially if you have numerous sections in your store.
Site search is an essential tool for ecommerce websites. Don’t just look at it as a way to help clients find what they are looking for. While that is its primary aim, it is capable of so much more.
Use it to gain valuable insights into customer behavior, including what they want, when they want it, and the words they use. Then use that data to improve the experience for them, provide them with what they want, and drive more traffic via advertising and content marketing.