Learn to Maximize Searches Conducted on Your Website
Information publishers and service providers (at least those with massive and
deep archives of information) are finding that site search isn’t just useful for
Internet retailers. After all, the better the search experience, the more likely it is
that users will convert and even return, to these digital properties.
In fact, depending on the search box’s prominence on a website,
and its successful use by visitors, it’s possible to see a significant
portion of a digital audience regularly using the search box —
some reports indicate it could be as high as 20-30 percent.
On-site search is an important, but infrequently discussed
topic. The reason? It's challenging to master (not to mention implement).
To be a true site search superstar, a number of elements
must be addressed. For example, it’s imperative to concentrate
on the actual visibility and functionality of the search experience
(e.g. if it is a useful and efficient feature of the website for the audience)
and the design of the results page (in order to maximize
interaction). Finally, it’s essential to analyze and understand the
results of site search’s use so that it becomes a contributing factor
in your website’s current and future success.
The Search Experience
In Website Magazine’s “Rethink Your Search Box Design” article
from May 2012, it was suggested that:
“In order to be effective, a search form should be easily visible,
in a location consistent with other websites, and with enough
space for the user to enter their query and still read it. The
search button should be clickable, large enough to click and include
a search-related icon such as a magnifying glass, or simply
the word ‘Search’ as a label.”
Yet those suggestions were mostly about design and presentation.
That’s useful, of course, but there’s so much more that
must be addressed. Webmasters must consider more than
search box position, design and labeling. The use of auto-suggest,
auto-complete and advanced search features, which enable
users to filter by date or exclude specific terms, are just
some of the other elements to consider.
Results Page Design
Every website visitor will encounter the search box, but as previously
mentioned, only a small percentage will ever use it. This
makes the few results pages that visitors do encounter a significant
opportunity for brands.
There are numerous elements to consider including on the results
page outside of just a document title and description alone,
of course. First, address how much content should or could be
shown to search users, as well as the type and variety. For instance,
will you only include pages, or is there an opportunity to
include videos, images, etc.? Is there some essential information
element, such as a rating, that can be included to improve the returned
page’s quality in the mind of a user? Likely so; it’s just important
to find out what it actually is that improves the number
of conversions and the quality of the interaction. Is it the number
of saved/shared votes it received from the audience? Is it a
“richer” results page, which includes images? Only your users
know what will motivate them to click and keep clicking.
Site Search Analytics
If you’ve made changes to your website’s search experience,
bumping up the prominence, including additional features and
rethinking the search results page to create the optimal experience,
you won’t know if any of those modifications worked if
you don’t dig into the analytics. Depending on the vendor or solution
selected by your enterprise different metrics will be provided
in reports — from the total number of searches, to refined
searches and with a little tracking code, just how many searches
ultimately resulted in conversions. In order to understand if improvements
are working, every possible interaction must be
tracked if becoming a site search superstar is in your sights.
Site Search Showcase 2013
Most discussion of Web improvements is theoretical in nature, but it does
not have to be. Website Magazine has put together a two-part showcase
of what our editorial team believes are some of the most elegant, sophisticated
and functional site search offerings in action on the Web today —
from the search box to the results page. See which brands are doing it well
and how large digital retailers compare in Website Magazine's Site Search Showcase 2013.