Search Failure. You Can’t Stop Talking About It.

Since January I’ve had dozens of discussions with marketing professionals as part of a product roadmap listening tour. My goal is to hear what’s top of mind for thought leaders, understand the pain points, and figure out how to align our product and our marketing messages with what I’m hearing. While most of the conversation focused around our new product thesis: effective visitor journeys and customer experience powered by behavior-based personalized content recommendation, people couldn’t help but talk about search failure.

Site Search

As you already know, searchers are your best prospects and are more likely to convert according to the data our clients have shared with us. It’s true for B2C and it’s true for B2B. But selling this notion is hard because many companies have no clear owner for the search experience. So we don’t always talk about the positive effect our product has on search. But the people I’ve been talking to can’t help themselves. They universally volunteer that at best their search is a work in progress and at worst it’s a disaster.

So many stories

One large packaged goods company showed me a content marketing site that seemed incapable of providing search results of related articles. If you were looking for an article on living with teens, you were likely to see content marketing and products related to babies.

An executive at a leading insurance company lamented the fact that if you were looking for content related to their asset management business (a B2B play), you were just as likely to see information related to consumer offerings.

And there were also countless stories about personal B2C problems. Looking for the thing in white and only being offered red. Searching for a hoodie and being offered jackets without hoods. Seemingly random search results.

Why is that a problem?

Because of Google. You’ve spent a lot of money and effort improving SEO to attract visitors to the top of your funnel. If they land on your page and find the content wanting they have three choices: site search, navigate, or go back to Google. Navigation is only viable if your site is simple enough to understand. For most B2B companies, this is really hard. If site search isn’t working, well your visitors are left with only one choice. Google.

There are three concerns when visitors bounce back to Google:

  1. It potentially invalidates your SEO strategy. You’re either on the wrong keywords, have the wrong content or both.
  2. Your ability to progress journeys is stymied.
  3. Your competitors get another crack at your visitors.

The Promise of AI and Site Search

A lot of site search vendors are beginning to pitch AI as a technology that will make search better. The engine is smarter, therefore results are better. That’s a start. If text analytics or machine learning models can make search content more relevant, then eventually your visitors may begin to trust your site search.

But what’s really relevant about better search is not the “how” of better search, it’s the “why” of better search. Do the better results lead to fewer site bounces? Fewer exits? More conversions? Is your search data useful outside of search?

Is better search the answer?

Better search is only part of the answer. What you really want is better journey progression. What you really want are more conversions and more MQLs. That’s why we’re focused on building technologies that take better search data and use that elsewhere in the visitor journey.

If you’re a B2B company, it’s likely that site searchers make up a relatively small portion of your website visitors. But every visitor could use guidance as they try to navigate the complexities of your digital presence. Combining better search data with your journey data and your content data creates the opportunity to identify content that your visitors need, so that they’re more likely to progress their journeys and less likely to bounce and exit.

Make your search smarter. But make sure you’re focused on the true goal. Increasing the likelihood that your visitors are going to connect with content that matters and progress towards their goal. 

Want help getting the benefits of better site search? Check out our SearchBox software.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: AI Goes Back to the Basics

We at SeachChat frequently talk about how AI and site search produce value for your site. But let’s break that down for a minute. What this is all about at the end of the day is customer experience.

When a prospective customer arrives on your site: are you helping them? Are you answering their question? What value might you be creating — for them, and for yourself?

Steve and I focus on some of the most important ways to fix your site search improvement program. It might not sound like the most glamorous solution, but it’s the best way to ensure you can capitalize on site search insights. Site search offers some valuable information: what can you learn about a visitor and their intent.

As I wrote recently, site search is your company’s best salesperson. When powered by AI, your site search learns about your prospective customers and can tailor results to guide them. Machine learning lets site search deliver results that drive sales. If a salesperson was performing as poorly as your site search, would you even keep them around?

And as always, to best improve your site search and utilize its data — drop us a line.

00m 00s — Intro and overview

02m 20s — Site search insights on Search Engine Land

13m 00s — Site search value and site search as your best salesperson

18m 50s — Developing a strong site search improvement program

23m 16s — AI and its connection to search

32m 30s — Customer experience

33m 23s — Subscription links and outro

SearchChat is now on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company.

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, or email info@solosegment.com.

Originally post on Biznology

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results.

SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Google: Frenemy?

Can you imagine not caring about how you rank in Google? Maybe someday something will replace Google as what is arguably “the” most important source of top-of-funnel traffic but today much of your marketing activity is rightly focused on SEO and SEM. Having a strong Google game is critical to many companies success. But is Google your friend? I’d argue that Google as Frenemy is the proper way to look at the relationship; Google is critically important at some points but dangerous to rely upon later. Let me explain.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

The People Element: How SEO and Site Search Come Together

Today we’re talking about a much-neglected aspect of search: how people work together. Recently I was on a Google hangout sponsored by the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO). The focus of the conversation was making site search more effective. As you’d expect, when you get a lot of those professionals together, we talked a lot about technology, and tools, and techniques — but didn’t spend a lot of time on one element that I think is really important, and that is the people element. For mid-market and large enterprise companies, that’s often an organizational discussion.

There are generally four main components to search within large companies. There’s folks doing external search, that’s the organic and paid element. Then there are folks doing website search, that’s the business perspective. Add to that two technology teams, supporting each of them. As many of you know, search internally and search externally are very close cousins. Usually the things that you do to make internal search better, make external search better.

So what I want to encourage organizations to do is create the management systems that more tightly integrate all four of these elements. Bring the two business teams together, the ones focused on internal and external search, as well as the IT teams together. Even if for no other reason than, say, content optimization — low hanging fruit. Internal teams are going to want better product content so that they can get better relevancy rankings. External teams are going to benefit from that as well because better product content is going to rank better in Google. There are lots of opportunities, and content is just one example.

What’s important is creating the right environment for that kind of collaboration. Creating the right management system is an important critical success factor for most teams working on search both internally and externally at large companies.

Best of luck on improving your search results! And if you think you could use SoloSegment’s assistance, reach out to us for a free consultation.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Four Things to Improve Your Site Search

You know your site search isn’t good. You’re in good company. A recent survey we did of leading healthcare companies showed that 47% of the industry’s top keywords performed poorly on site search. That’s consistent across industries, more so in B2B enterprises. Why is it so bad? Well, some of that is because search owners don’t know what to fix. The good news is that getting started is easy and there are four things you can work on today that will improve your site search success rates.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

B2B buyers rely upon site search

B2B Sales is changing

According to Forrester, the percentage of B2B buyers who prefer to do research online increased from 53% in 2015 to 68% in 2017. But it’s not just pre-sales research. Accenture’s research indicates that when you look at the end-to-end buying process, 94% of buyers do online research. The digital shift has completely transformed B2C buying behaviors, and while B2B has been more resistant to the shift, those changes are coming.

To take advantage of this trend, successful digital sales leaders will recalibrate where resources and management attention is focused. Sales Reps will continue to be a key part of the B2B sales process, especially during the final phases of high consideration purchases. But online capabilities, especially during the research phase, needs a better seat at your sales table.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

You’re measuring site search wrong

Many companies have a measurement problem when it comes to understanding the effectiveness of site search. But that measurement problem often stems from the failure to ask the right question. The question shouldn’t be about customer behavior. The question should be about the customer experience. At SoloSegment we believe that the only customer experience that matters when you’re talking about site search is the success rate. Did the customer find the right content to answer their question on the first click? Unless you start with that point of view, you’re doing it wrong.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

7 facts you didn’t know about site search

The biggest roadblock to fixing your site search is recognizing that you have a problem. Many business owners will brush site search off as unimportant, and even when they know their site search is broken, they will put it off and tell themselves they’ll “fix it soon.” It’s common for our prospects to be skeptical on the real value of improving site search, but the facts are clear.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Why aren’t I getting conversions out of my site search?

Site searchers tend to show up at your website with a certain purpose in mind. They have a need and believe that you have the solution. This should be great news, because you have all this great content and if they get to see your product, it is likely they’ll buy it. But our experience shows that many site searchers don’t actually get to the point of seeing your content. They use your site search and are frustrated by the poor quality of results. You’re frustrated too, because you don’t know why this happens. Finding out why searchers are frustrated and creating a plan to prevent it can significantly improve your site search conversions and lead to sales.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.