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Onsite search is one of the most critical customer experiences on your website. Onsite search is also the customer experience that likely gets little attention in your management system and at budget time. Sometimes this is because site search improvement seems like a dark art.  It’s not uncommon that we see people measuring site search wrong. However, if you’re just getting started with search improvement (and many of you are, you just may not know it) there are two things you can do now to make your customer experience better. 

Tip 1: Simple Tuning

Sometimes even the most sophisticated search teams can find opportunities to tweak tuning algorithms. A few weeks ago I was on a website buying some supplies for a fishing trip that was coming up. This was a well established industry leader that has a great selection of product but despite a recent upgrade to their commerce platform their search was awful. In fact, the only way to reliably find stuff was to have a paper catalog in your hand and search by product numbers.

After about ten minutes of searching it was obvious to me that their search engine gave little to no weight to product titles. I shot them an email telling them about the problem. They made the change and results were instantly better.

The fruit you have to pluck to improve site search probably isn’t that low, but we often find that there are some quick fixes available if you know where to look. A good place to start is with the weighting of the various fields in your search engine’s scoring algorithm. Over time, some quirks and errors may have made their way into production usage. A quick audit can help you discover opportunity. An easy was to get started is to look at your top 250 search terms. A quick boost to important fields can have a dramatic impact on searcher success.

Tip 2: Content Curation

Content curation is the bluntest instrument in the search improvement toolbox. However, it is an effective way to get a quick boost in search success rates. It starts with identifying your top 250 keywords and determining which of them has poor success. Those are your targets.

Content curation is a simple process. For each keyword you want to improve you decide which page is “the answer”. While in large complex organizations this can sometimes be a negotiated settlement among competing product managers for terms that are more generic (e.g. “database” in a tech company) for product names this should be a fairly straightforward process.

Once you’ve determined which page is the answer you identify that document in the index and boost the relevancy of that document for the desired terms. Some search engines make this easier to do than others, but for your top terms that have low success rates it’s worth the effort.

Building Muscle

Using these two tips is an easy way to get a site search improvement program started. But what’s even more important is building the right habits and capabilities for improving site search on a continuous basis. Your prospects and customers want your site search to be good. They want to stay on your website and achieve their goals. Don’t chase them away with a poor search experience.

If you could use help, you can always reach out to SoloSegment for a free consultation.

And don’t miss our new ebook that highlights “The Six Personalization Truths Every B2B Marketer Needs to Know Right Now,” including how to make sure site search works as the first personalized experience for your customers.  


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