Unfortunately, many businesses see adding their own custom search engine as something to just put in place and then ignore. Having a poorly optimized search can do more harm than good for your website and could be the reason why you don't have more returning customers. After all, customers who use your search bar are far more likely to buy if they find what they're looking for.
With the right tailored site search engine, you provide your customers with a better experience on your company's website and gain valuable statistics about client demographics that can improve your marketing techniques. Custom internal search engines with a customizable control panel are a key part of ensuring a great customer experience, because customers can leverage the search box however they see fit.
Below, we address some of the main benefits of custom site search tools for your business.
Optimized Search Results
One of the main reasons visitors use search bars is to save time and effort when looking for particular topics. In addition, when customers have a specific item or need specialized information, they're more likely to purchase if they find what they're searching for, so you want to do everything possible to facilitate their search. Specialized search engines, also known as vertical search engines, will help customers find what they need.
Speed is key. No matter how easy your website navigation is, it will almost always be faster to just search for the product or page that they're looking for. Nearly half of all web users go straight to the search bar when they go to a new website instead of just browsing everything. When someone is in the mood to buy, they want to find the product now rather than laboriously trying to find the right page via website navigation.
The second most important aspect of a good custom search tool is providing relevant search results web pages. There are few things more frustrating than inputting your search terms and seeing a bunch of products or posts that have little or nothing to do with what you're looking for. You might see hundreds or thousands of irrelevant results for large websites if they're not using a good search engine.
This commonly happens to businesses that set up a generic search without consideration for customization protocols to help customers find what they're looking for based on demographics. There are two primary aspects of finding relevant results: ranking and matching.
Matching is the first step of finding relevant results. It involves looking for pages that match the search query based on keywords listed for the page. This is where it is helpful to allow for misspellings of product names or keywords, or synonyms to ensure that even customers who are typing quickly will still find what they're looking for.
Customers prefer using natural language to query websites for products and answers to questions. Supercharge your website with a natural language search experience that returns direct answers to consumers' questions—no matter how they ask them.
Clients may not know the exact name of your product to search or how to use keywords and will just type in the question as they'd ask another person. With an intelligent search engine, your site can parse the question and bring back relevant pages as results, all in real-time.
After the site search has determined which pages are applicable for the search terms, it needs to decide how to rank each result on the webpage. The ones that go up top should be frequently clicked on or contain more of the search term than ones that are ranked below. Even if your matching works well, customers won't see the products or pages unless they are ranked high since most people won't waste time endlessly scrolling through results.
Intelligent site searches can base their rankings on the observed behavior of users, making the entire experience more personalized. For example, Amazon will rank results higher if the customer has previously clicked on those products or ones sold by the same company. Smart ranking systems can make it easier for customers to find what they need based on gathered information about them. This is especially helpful as businesses move towards leveraging first-party user data, rather than third-party cookies that track users and collect personal information.
A customer who has bought cat food multiple times should also see products like cat toys, cat litter, cat water fountains, or other products for cat owners. If they start searching the term "water fountain," they should see pet water fountains ranked higher than other relevant results since they have been identified as cat owners.
Improves User Experience
Improving user experience through a programmable search engine is the best way to retain customers. Adding filters to your internal search can easily let customers filter out things that may match their query and might otherwise rank highly. If a customer is looking for a shirt, they can use your search bar layout filter to specify that they want a long-sleeved shirt so that the results won't be clogged with tank tops and short-sleeved shirts.
However, undoubtedly the best part about an optimized search tool is that customers can find additional products or services that are related to previous purchases or interests. Customers who use search bars often already know what they want, but if they see related items, they might expand their search and purchase more than they'd planned.
Another way to improve user experience is to take mobile phones into account. An ever-increasing number of customers prefer to shop online, so ensure that people typing into small search bars and squinting at their screens can still find the relevant results. This is where Amazon excels by offering pictures and larger text for mobile users.
Discovering More About Users
Your users' browsing history will give you lots of insights into their intent. Learning more about user intent is the best way to market your company and increase conversion rates. With smart, AI-powered search engines, you simply log data about your customers to learn about general demographics like age, gender, locale, and much more. Who customers are dictates what they want to buy.
When you reference search history to understand how their lives affect their purchasing preferences, you can quickly tailor searches for new customers based on similar data. For example, suppose you know that people from Australia are searching your website for shipping information. In that case, you simply rank those FAQ pages higher when your website detects a new user's location in Australia.
Valuable insights like why customers want the things they do can also help you add relevant additional items to their searches so that customers can discover things they never knew they needed before.
Increases Accessibility for Content
As websites expand, it becomes more and more difficult to find specific pages of content. This can be a challenging issue for users determined to find something that might be buried under layers and layers of additional pages. Many websites only offer navigation or a basic search engine to navigate to their freshest content.
Those users are more likely to turn to the search bar as the easiest way to find what they're looking for. If your content is well-indexed for search, an intelligent search tool can help users find the right content, no matter how long ago it was added or much extra there is now.
Your business can also take the opportunity to implement search operators to promote high-performing products as related suggestions if your users would otherwise hit a dead end in their search. If a product is currently sold out, offering links to similar or related products is a good way to keep your user's interest. (This is common among federated search systems in particular.) Otherwise, they're likely to leave your website and take their business elsewhere.
It's also best to add a section for items that are frequently purchased together. This information comes from monitoring the shopping carts of other users and determining which products are likely to sell with other related ones. When a user is adding a product for purchase, frequently purchased together sections can give them new ideas and upsell. Be sure to thoroughly investigate your site search solution's features for use cases like this.