Customers who start their journey on your website by hitting the search bar are 2.6x more likely to convert, and they spend three times as much as customers who don't search. That means it is essential that your website search is a priority, not an afterthought. By streamlining the search experience, you ensure that your site can deliver what customers are looking for when they want it.
Let's dive into how to use ecommerce search to enhance your site and drive conversions.
How to Enhance Your Site with eCommerce Search
When you use a customized search engine built into your ecommerce site, you enable your customers to find the products or pages easily they're looking for. Specialized search bars will take misspellings, natural language, and other aspects into account to make sure that customers always end up with relevant results that are ranked for their preferences.
The biggest difference between ecommerce search engines and something like Google is that ecommerce allows customers to apply filters and sort products based on specific attributes. With that in mind, let's look at some of the best practices within ecommerce search engines.
Position Your Search Bar for Success
Google takes this to the extreme by having a simple, streamlined landing page that simply features the search bar. Your website doesn't need to go to those lengths, but it's best to ensure that your search bar is near the top of the page, prominently displayed. People who want to use it should have no trouble finding it.
When customers arrive at your landing page, they don't want to waste time scrolling around to find the search bar. So, make it large enough to read and long enough to hold normal queries, but not so overwhelming that it would be silly for mobile users to scroll past it. Consider also adding some bright color on the search or go button to draw the eye naturally.
Another way to simplify the search experience is to add text that automatically appears in the search bar. It could say an example of a product, or just search. This helps direct users to your search bar. Just ensure that as soon as they click within the search bar that the text automatically greys out or disappears since most people will just start typing and don't want the hassle of deleting your example text.
Always make sure that every page on your website has a search bar, except for your checkout page.
Add Search Suggestions
Plenty of customers have searched for a specific product, only to find that they land on a page with no search results. Your customers should never hit a "no results" page. That's a sign telling them to take their business elsewhere. Instead, give search suggestions, both within the search bar itself and as part of the search results.
As they type in their search, include pictures of relevant or related products that will appear underneath the search bar. That way, if they're browsing for something and see a result they like, they can click on it there instead of wading through the results to find their item. If they proceed to the results page, keep the suggestions at the bottom of the page, so you don't cut off their actual results with suggestions, though.
If a customer searches for a product, only to find that you've sold out or don't offer it they're bound to be frustrated. But, if your results offer possible suggestions for similar or related products, they'll likely chalk the experience up to bad luck instead of a problem with your website. If they get zero results, they're less likely to return in the future or search for other products.
Take Errors in Stride
When you enter keywords to mark your web pages, you must remember to add plenty of possible variants on them, as well as misspellings. Unless a customer is very loyal to your brand, they might not know how to spell your product names or spell them wrong. It's key to include misspellings, so customers can still find what they're looking for.
Additionally, it can be a lifesaver. If someone is quickly searching for something and can only remember the first few letters, it's better to have a search bar that can autocomplete the phrase to save them time and the effort of racking their brains for the name.
Be careful, though. Autocomplete can be done wrong, which is usually more frustrating for customers than no autocomplete at all. When done well, you possess the ability to suggest the entire phrase or name of the product or slip in words that have higher conversion rates. Unfortunately, autocomplete can also start listing irrelevant or unhelpful results if you're not careful.
Autocomplete that completely misses the mark can confuse or distract customers, which is never a good thing.
Add Plenty of Filters
Even casual browsers usually have a specific department that they want to check out. If your website has different categories of products, the chances are high that people want to narrow down their choices by department, first and foremost. From there, they may continue to filter their results by price, color, materials used, or any other relevant choices.
These are especially helpful for large websites with a wide range of products, so customers don't get lost in result pages with tons of irrelevant results. Additionally, brand and product names are often the same across categories. For example, if a customer typed in the word 'scream' while already in the clothing department, that would remove any results related to the film Scream.
Reviews as Filters
If your website allows reviews to be made public and for products to be ranked via those reviews, this should affect how people search for them too. Buyers, especially those new to your brand, are more likely to trust products with positive reviews. It's not uncommon for someone to be looking for a product that has lots of options and wants to sort those options based on their review rankings.
Don't Limit Results to Products
It might be tempting to only list products on your search result pages, but that can prove frustrating to users looking for FAQs, how-to guides, or other supportive information. Instead, adjust your results to ensure blog posts or informational pages will not rank higher than products for certain types of searches. That way, customers will see products first. However, it's best to include relevant posts since your customers may simply need some questions answered.
Use Natural Language Processing
When customers ask a question, they're likely going to type it in as they would word it when speaking to a person. Most customers have no idea which keywords will lead them to their desired page. By implementing a natural language search engine, you will provide customers the right products, no matter how they search for them.
Use Analytics for Deeper Insights
Site search doesn't just refer to the process of searching through your website; it also means collecting data from your users and then making data-driven decisions using that information. For example, if you see that lots of people who search for a specific phrase click on a result that is normally ranked near the bottom of the search results page, you might consider revamping the page so that it appears higher in the results since it's what people are looking for.
Similarly, if a product is seeing a large uptick in traffic and popularity, you might increase your advertisements for that product or feature it on your landing page, so customers can click on it from the get-go. Searches can also show you what customers want to see. If they're looking for a product you don't offer, you may want to consider expanding your repertoire to address those needs.
It's getting harder and harder for ecommerce websites to stand out from the crowd. Make your customers' lives easier by including an intelligent site search.