Site Search Best Practices

Thanks to Google, today’s web users have developed incredibly sophisticated standards when it comes to search. As a result, you’ll run the risk of disappointing your shoppers if your site doesn’t measure up. Incorporating the following site search best practices will help you keep customers on your site and moving toward conversion.

Make It Easy to Find

Irony barely begins beginning to describe the situation when a user must hunt around a page on your site to locate the search window. Over the years, people have been conditioned to find it at the top of the page, usually in the navigation bar—or just below it. Burying it elsewhere on the page forces the user to hunt for it, which can cause them to experience frustration. Forget the clever design touch, just put it where people expect it to be and let that be the end of it. Similarly, the magnifying glass symbol (in its simplest form) should always be incorporated (ideally as a button) so users know they’re looking at the

And, the search function should appear on every page of the site, Including—

Include Search Window on Results Pages

You should also leave the query visible in the search window on that page. This accomplishes two things. If the search returns unexpected findings, the user can easily review what they typed. If it turns out they made a mistake, they can correct it with minimal effort and conduct the search again. While this convenience might seem small remember, anything you can do to ease the shopper’s journey inches them ever closer to making a purchase.

List Sample Queries in the Window

This practice makes it easier for shoppers to formulate their queries in a manner most likely to return the desired result.  The words, “Find sweaters, Pants, Blouses, Skirts, Shirts and more…”, tells users they can use natural language to conduct their searches.

Speaking of which— 

Provide Natural Language Processing (NLP)

This strategy returns results based upon context and relevance, in addition to the presence of keywords. In other words, NLP knows anyone searching the term “black outerwear” is just as open to looking at sweaters as they are jackets and coats—as long as they’re black. To make this work properly within your ecommerce theme, you’ll need to index your catalog data as thoroughly as possible so the algorithm has more data from which to draw when considering your offerings.

Incorporate Auto-complete

Always have a dropdown menu of potential queries appear, listing possible keywords for which they’re searching, as the user begins to type. This will help them complete searches more quickly and reduces the potential for misspellings, which increases accuracy. Speaking of which, using autocorrect will also help overcome spelling issues. These two elements are particularly critical now that mobile shopping has become dominant…

Be Mindful of Mobile

Traditional navigation can be cumbersome in the mobile environment. Providing a robust mobile search experience will help overcome that limitation, giving your shoppers the capability of asking your site for what they want rather than browsing until it turns up. Mobile shoppers tend to be less patient. Additionally, smaller keys and distractions lead to more spelling errors in mobile than desktop. Incorporating NLP, auto-complete and auto correct are critical steps for mobile users as it relieves them of some of the burden of asking for exactly what they’re trying to find.

These site search best practices will make your products easier to find. This, in turn, will help boost customer satisfaction. Happy customers are returning customers and returning customers will help you keep your business going strong.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at 85ideas is a team of WordPress experts led by Brian Harris. Here to share amazing tuts, guides and collections.

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