While it may seem logical for a website with multiple pages to include comprehensive navigation, plenty of businesses haven't understood how including a search box, in addition to their normal navigational channels, can benefit their customers and their bottom lines. Customers search your website more often than you'd think, and the addition of a search bar is extremely useful.
Why You Should Add a Search Bar to Your Website
Nowadays, customers have become accustomed to using search engines like Google and the convenience of typing in their queries and having relevant results returned. Some businesses feel like they can't compete with Google and shouldn't bother trying, but having an internal site search can save your customers plenty of time.
Take Amazon for example. If you're looking for a specific pair of shoes, it would take a long time to go into their Shoe department, sort by women's shoes, and then continue applying filters to find the style, color, brand, materials, etc. Conversely, if you know what you're looking for you can simply search it in Amazon's search bar.
The sheer number of products that Amazon offers means that even with all of their advanced filters, it would still take users an overly long time to find their pair of shoes. Even if your website isn't as comprehensive as Amazon, as long as you have more than a few products or services available, you'll want to add a search bar to give your customers better experiences.
Navigating Versus Searching
For some reason, website owners think that customers only need one way to maneuver through their website: navigation bars or search boxes. While both have their own pros and cons, there's no reason not to employ both. Both offer customers good ways to find the content they're looking for.
Navigation bars don't take the place of search boxes and the inverse is true, too. In addition, you'll need to consider the size and scope of your website. Smaller websites may work better with navigation bars since there aren't many pages to browse, but with large sites, it can be challenging to find content through navigation bars alone.
Keep in mind that people are more likely to use search boxes on their mobile devices since it's often harder to see the navigation bar or drop-down menu on your phone's small screen. There are also several types of search, such as federated search and specialized search, also known as vertical search. Be sure to investigate the different types of site search to find the best solution for your business.
Benefits of a Search Box
When customers have a specific item or question in mind, they're more likely to make a purchase if they find what they're searching for, so you want to do everything you can to facilitate their search. There are numerous benefits of custom search engines, which we will explore in-depth in the following sections.
Whatever the cause, your search engine will need to accommodate for these errors and offer results that are relevant to what they were likely looking for. You can add a feature similar to Google's where you list the word or term searched for (misspellings and all), as well as what your clever search engine actually looked for, beneath the search bar (minus the errors).
Natural Language Processing
One of the best ways to use error tolerance, as well as make it simple for customers to find what they're looking for, is to incorporate natural language processing into search. Customers aren't frequently aware of the keywords SEO specialists use to label web pages when they have queries or want to browse for something. Everyone is accustomed to relying on Google's capacity to comprehend natural language and would prefer to type their search in the same way they would speak it to a friend.
Consumers will find the search process smoother and the results will be more pertinent to their search if you use a Search as a Service provider that can interpret natural language. When your search tool includes natural language search features, you can give your consumers direct responses, rich material, and calls to action.
Including suggested results before a user completes typing in their query is another technique to assist them in finding what they need. This works best with product pages because you can have specific images appear underneath the search box for customers to click on to go straight to the product, saving them time. Just make sure that your pages are indexed properly for search as well.
Clients get a feeling of direction in their query and an indication as to whether you offer the product or service they're seeking when you include a drop-down menu of options depending on what they've previously typed in, with or without photographs. They'll find what they're looking for and click on it with a nice drop-down menu, bypassing the search results page completely.
You might also include a section for things that are usually bought together. This data is derived from observing other users' shopping carts and determining which products are likely to sell together with others. When a user is adding a product to their shopping cart, often purchased together sections can provide new ideas and encourage upselling.
Powerful search bars that allow auto-completion, in conjunction with accepting errors, can be highly useful for folks who just recall the first few letters of a brand or have a rough concept of how it's written. There's a narrow line between an unpleasant autocomplete that slows down the process and a nice autocomplete, so make sure it only responds to relevant queries or only appears after the first few letters.
Gain User Insights
The greatest method to sell your firm and enhance conversion rates is to discover more about user intent. You can log data about your consumers using smart search engines to learn about general demographics like age, gender, location, and more. What customers desire to buy is determined by who they are.
You can rapidly personalize searches for new clients based on similar data once you realize how their lives influence their purchasing choices. Insights into why customers want what they want can also enable you to add appropriate supplementary items to their searches, allowing customers to find things they didn't know they needed.
In addition to learning how users interact with your website, you can also learn what types of queries they're looking for and see if you should add new features or products to your inventory. If quite a few new customers are searching for something you don't sell, that is an indication that your company should consider expanding into that area.
Alternatively, this could be caused by misleading advertisements. If your customers think your brand is about something that it's not, you may want to sit down and rethink your marketing strategies or how you are appealing to new customers. Figuring out why they think you're selling something that you aren't is a good step in the right direction.
Bring Back Older Content
As websites grow in size, it becomes increasingly challenging to locate content pages. This can be a difficult problem for customers who are keen to uncover information hidden underneath layers and layers of extra pages. Many websites only provide access to their most recent content.
Important pages that could still be relevant, like FAQ pages, can end up buried under mountains of fresh content as you continue posting. New and existing customers could always use a refresher about your products' features or services so you want people to be able to find your essential pages, even if they haven't been updated in a while.
Users who are seeking something specific are more likely to use the search bar as long as it is easy to find and straightforward to use. An efficient search tool can help consumers find the relevant content, no matter how long ago it was added or how much more there is now if your content is well-indexed.
If your consumers' search leads them to a dead-end, your company can exploit the opportunity to showcase high-performing items as related suggestions. If a product is currently out of stock, providing links to comparable items is a good strategy to hold your users' attention. Otherwise, they'll probably quit your website and go somewhere else to do their business.
How To Add Search To Your Website
Now that you understand the importance of adding search functionality to your website, you're probably ready to get started on your own website search bar.
Some website platforms and content management systems might offer out-of-the-box search. However, the search experience is still unique to each business and user. For example, search within a website varies between an eCommerce virtual storefront and a management consultancy. In the former situation, users can search for products, return policies, locations, and more. Online retailers may want to consider advanced site search for commerce, specifically. In the latter situation, users might use the search button when they're looking for articles, resources, and contact information.
However, if your organization is lean on development resources or otherwise struggling with how to make a search bar for your website, you can consider Search as a Service. This leaves web site search to a third party. Just make sure that you've thoroughly researched the features your internal website search bar should have.
Having site search makes it easy for customers to engage with your content and find what they're looking for in a timely manner. It will increase your revenue by allowing customers to quickly find what they're seeking and complete their purchases without getting bogged down by the search process itself.
If you're ready to add a search engine to your website, consider Yext Search. Learn more about our AI-powered search solutions today.