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Optimizing Site Search for Conversion

Nearly 30 percent of online shoppers start their visit with a site search according to a study from Weblinc.

The study also revealed that shoppers who successfully searched for products resulted in a 216 percent increase in conversion rate and a 21 percent increase in average order value. 

Let me put a very fine point on this - if your store search is lackluster, it is costing you sales; online shoppers who find what they want tend to spend more money. That is reason enough to start optimizing the site search functionality within your own Web properties. 

That's often easier said than done if Internet retailers aren't using one of the myriad solutions available that are engineered specifically for this aspect of this digital experience (SLI Systems, Nextopia, SearchSpring, Reflektion, Hawksearch and the many others), but even then, it is easy to get distracted and focused on the wrong things. 

Below are a few ideas to consider when a project dedicated to optimizing site search for conversion becomes a priority within your e-commerce enterprise. Consider this just a start as there are hundreds of potential variables that can be improved upon. Did we miss one? If so, submit a comment and share your expertise and insights with the Website Magazine community.
- Spelling/Word Assistance: This includes suggested auto-corrects and “did you mean?” prompts. Autocomplete selections are also ideal.

- Filters Availability: Depending on the product line, shoppers should be able to narrow exhaustive results by price range, size, color, brand, and other relevant siphons. Filtering by category is useful for larger catalogs.

- Logical Sorting: Initial results should be sorted by relevance. Shoppers should be able to sort results by price, name, and rating.

- Calls to Action: Results must include links to product pages. If it fits the target audience, purchase buttons should also be displayed.

- Number of Results: This tells the shopper if her search terms are too broad. At Amazon, for example, a search for a coffee roaster brings up thousands of results. Category filters can rule out results in the grocery and books section

- Pagination: The ability to browse through pages of product results without losing the site’s navigational aspect is key.

- UPC or EAN Search: Even if you don’t publish UPCs or EANs on product pages, including them as search fields is important. Those who search by one of these knows exactly what they want. A return of zero results sends them looking elsewhere.

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