Customers Today Expect More From Site Search. Here’s How Your Brand Can Deliver

Consumers don’t just expect direct, structured answers from search engines. Now, they expect those answers from your website site search experience too.

By lchamberlain

Sep 30, 2019

4 min

With the rise of voice assistants and chatbots, combined with the introduction of conversational search, we're witnessing a fundamental shift in consumer search behaviour. Because the information delivered by search engines today is more specific, more substantive and more easily digestible than ever before, your customers are being re-trained to search for exactly what they want. They're increasingly beginning their searches not with general keywords, but with questions meant to address a highly specific need.

You might already be aware of this shift as it relates to search engines. A few years ago, if you typed "tacos" into Google's search bar, your search results would consist of links to blog posts about tacos and maybe the website for a restaurant that serves them. Now when you search for "tacos," you get a structured, detailed answer — a knowledge card including nutritional information and ingredients, a local pack showing places to get tacos near you, a list of links to brand domains and Yelp. And if a customer searches for "best vegetarian taco place near me open now" they can expect an AI-powered search engine to answer that multi-dimensional question correctly and immediately, furnishing a map and a local pack of nearby vegetarian taco spots that are currently open.

But here's the key: consumers don't just expect those kinds of answers from search engines. Now, they expect them from your website too.

Build a better site search experience.

Customers who begin a search on your website are telling you something important: they're already aware of your brand and they're looking for answers from you— indicating a higher intent to transact. But if your site search experience doesn't live up to the standard set by the search engines they're used to? Then they'll likely become frustrated and give up.

For example, imagine that a customer comes to your restaurant chain's website and asks "which menu items are gluten-free?" They're looking for a direct answer and the answer they get will probably affect their decision to order from your restaurant or to visit one of your locations. If this question is answered seamlessly — and even presents a click-to-order or click-to-call option — that's a great customer experience that leads directly to revenue.

But what if the result they find on your website is simply a link to menu pages that don't easily answer the question? Or worse, what if there's no related result at all? Your customer might click around to see if they can find more information on the linked pages, but with each additional click, the chance of them giving up and leaving your site increases. Research indicates that if consumers can't find what they're looking for in two to three attempts, they will leave your website.

A great site search experience is highly valuable. On average, just 15% of visitors to a website use the site's search feature — yet those visitors account for 45% of revenue. And users who search are 1.8x more likely to convert than those who don't. On the other hand, if your customers can't find the answers they need easily (if they give up on using your site to find information) they're likely to bounce back to a search engine that canprovide an answer. There, you run the risk that they might find incorrect information about your brand, or choose to transact with a competitor instead.

So how can your website answer the multi-dimensional queries that customers may want to ask you? By building and maintaining your own brand knowledge graph.

With a knowledge graph, you can define the relationships between all of the entities essential to your business — such as your menu items, nutritional information, hours, locations and more — so that you can answer the questions customers are likely to ask on your website.

If you're not careful, a disparity between the answers in search and the answers on your website can train consumers to rely on search services rather than on your site. But your brand knowledge graph will always go much deeper than a search engine — which means your on-site search experience can answer many more questions than a general search engine. Prioritising your knowledge graph and delivering answers on your website helps you pave a smooth path to a transaction — whether that's an order, an appointment, a call, an RSVP, or any other action.

Driving more of your website visitors through your own search experience will also give you sophisticated customer insights. By keeping track of the questions they ask, you can improve your website experience, expand your knowledge graph, and improve your marketing strategies.

Learn how you can build your own knowledge graph for your brand and turn your website into an answers engine, withYext.

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