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Site Search

Site search is one of the most important ways for your website visitors to find items of interest on your site. They’re more likely to enter keywords into the search box, rather than browse through tabs and categories for products or information, because doing so helps them find something specific rather than a broad category of items. In other words, site search is a far more direct path for people to find what they need, and ideally, it should deliver fast results that are relevant to their search terms.

For websites that deliver a site search experience that meets visitors’ demands for relevancy and ease of use, there are many benefits. Visitors who use site search typically convert at a higher rate than visitors who don’t use search, view more pages, and spend more time on a site – and they also tend to have lower abandonment rates. In other words, site search users can be your most valuable customers.

User-Friendly Site Search Features

What makes for user-friendly, relevant site search? First off, visitors expect to see results that map directly to the keywords they’ve entered, and they want to see them on the first page of results, if possible. Ideally, visitors will see relevant results even if they’ve spelled a brand name incorrectly, or they’ve used a synonym for a product name (like “smartphone” instead of “iPhone”). And it’s especially helpful if visitors can also see “related searches” – other keywords that are related to their search terms but not an exact match, which helps them take their search in a different direction if needed.

Website visitors will also use site search more often if it provides helpful ways to learn more about products and information before clicking through to new webpages. For example, “quick view” windows can display pictures and product information that help visitors narrow down their search. Refinements perform the same function, helping visitors focus their search from many results to a narrower, more relevant group.

Customizable Tools for Site Owners

Site search is also a highly effective merchandising tool for site owners, and a robust search solution should include easy ways to highlight special offers and great deals. Ideally, you should be able to reorder search results to place popular items at the top of search results, or the items you want to promote. You should also have the ability to create banners that appear on search results pages and are relevant to the search terms – for example, a banner to promote free shipping for certain purchases, or to promote a particular brand.

Site search should also provide you with insights that can help you run your business better. For instance, if you can see what visitors are searching for – or what they’re searching for and not finding – you can make changes to product descriptions and content or manipulate site search results, and also make better-informed decisions about increasing and decreasing inventory.

Finally, site search should be adaptable to all of the different ways that visitors are coming to your website – that is, via tablets and smartphones. The features and functionality needed for mobile site search are much different than what’s needed for your standard website, since you must consider the bandwidth and screen size constraints of the mobile user.

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