There’s a reason why Amazon’s search box takes up a significant part of the screen. Ecommerce retailers know the value that on-site search adds to their business. Consumers have been spoiled over the last 10 years with ever-improving search algorithms and consumers no longer browse for information on websites, we search for it. Whether we’re looking to buy a specific book on Amazon or we’re after a pair of shoes in our size, we’ve become accustomed to searching and filtering our way through large catalogues of information.
Now that consumers have learned this behaviour, is your site search functionality up to scratch? Are customers getting the results they expect? and how can you measure and improve the function of your on-site search function? Find out how, and make your customers happier, then earn more money.
Is site search important?
In a word: Yes!
High Position manage lots of ecommerce websites, and when I dig in to their GA accounts, time and time again I see site search being a huge player in a customers online experience. Take for example one of our clients who have a site search functionality and customers that use the site search are 4.8x as likely to make a purchase vs those who do not, and this segment of customers have an average basket value 8% higher than those who do not search.
Another of our clients (in a competitive IT sector), just 12% of their traffic uses site search, but those visitors account for 41% of their revenue. Their Site search average order value is a whopping 29% higher (nearly £58 extra revenue per transaction).
2 other examples, in the fashion & cosmetic industries…
Fashion: 11% of traffic uses site search, that traffic accounts for 20% of revenue - a 7% increase in avg. order value and a 92% increase in ecommerce conversion rate.
Cosmetics: 8% of traffic uses site search, that traffic accounts for 25% of revenue - a 13% increase in avg. order value and a 331% increase in ecommerce conversion rate.
If you still aren’t convinced that site search works, I’m not sure what else I can say.
How do you measure the performance of search?
Obviously revenue figures and conversion rates are the ultimate measure of how well your site search is performing. But there are a few more-closely measured metrics we can look out for, all available within your Google Analytics data…
% Refinements - When someone searches for “shoes” and then decides they didn’t find what they needed and instead searched for “yellow shoes” % Refinements measures how often this type of activity happens. If your site search is returning good results, people will be less likely to need to refine their search further.
% Exits - I search for “shoes”, don’t get the results I want, then leave your site disappointed. The lower this metric, the better. Simples.
Time after search / Search Depth - Measures how long and how many pages people spend on your site after performing a search. Generally people who find what they need hang about longer.
Conversion rate / Avg. order value - MOAR MONIES! Need I say more?
How to improve your on-site search…
So now that we know that site search is an amazing tool in our conversion toolbox. What can we do to further improve a customers search experience?
Better keyword targeting - When I search for “yallow shoes” is your search smart enough to know I actually want Yellow shoes, do your products have common miss-spelled keywords listed for targeting? does your industry use jargon or acronyms that should be added to a products keywords or descriptions so searchers can look for things in their own natural language?
Algorithm changes - When I search for “yellow shoes” do all things “yellow” (like handbags) and all things “shoes” (like, err, shoes) show up? or do just products with “yellow” & “shoe” show up? does the product have to have exactly the phrase “yellow shoes” or is it smart enough to match text where the words are split up… “shoes that come in yellow…”. There are many different tweaks you can make to a search algorithm, Google make billions from constantly enhancing theirs. I’m sure you can make some improvements too.
Default sorting options - We’ve al been on a site where the default search option is “Price: Highest to Lowest” and immediately switched it to something more suitable! Many sites nowadays have a “relevancy” sort or similar option. You should set the default to whatever is going to be most useful to a customer, not what you think might trick them in to buying something more expensive - but always test it first!
Nicer looking result pages - Do you only show 5 products per page and make your customers flick through 20 pages of results to find what they are looking for? What a turn off! Are product images small? Is the layout a mess? There’s all sorts of User Experience changes you can test to improve your search result pages.
Tracking Zero Result Searches
An action I frequently recommend is to make sure you are tracking search phrases that generate no results. Reporting on these can give you a great insight in to what people are looking for that you don’t sell already, this often throws up acronyms we didn’t know about or other strange ways of searching. We put these in to a custom GA Dashboard and anyone can quickly go in, see what changes need making and amend the product descriptions or add in synonyms to ensure customers see better search results. Picking up these loose ends can capture a large number of users that might have otherwise exited the site.
Site search is a really important part of ecommerce websites, across all of our clients we see greater conversions and average basket size from users that perform on-site search, and improving the search experience of your customers can lead to great results. If you think your site search is lacking, get in touch with us today, and we can help you improve it.