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 onsite 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.
Often, a blank page is the problem
Part of the problem is that a sizeable amount of searches don’t yield any results at all. A study by User Interface Engineering found that almost a quarter of website searches do not yield any results. That is consistent with what we see with our clients using our SearchBox service. These same searchers often continue to not receive any results on the second and third search attempts, as they try to use many of the same keywords. Check to see if your site search is providing results to common keyword searches. If available content is not showing up, fix it. If you don’t have content that’s widely demanded, make it.
It’s not your visitor’s fault
But that’s only part of the problem. When searchers get results and don’t click them, it’s usually because these results aren’t what they’re looking for. There are a few different things searchers will do after getting results they don’t think are helpful:
- Scroll to the next page. This is actually quite uncommon, but someone really intent on digging deep for the information they’re looking for might visit the second page of results.
- Search again. Even though this may seem like a great result, it isn’t as great as it sounds. The same study by User Interface Engineering found that 44 percent of searchers still got 0 results on the second attempt.
- Leave your site. Obviously this is not a good outcome, and it’s exactly what we fear will happen when people don’t find what they’re looking for through our site search.
It’s a common mistake to believe that you aren’t losing much from having a poor internal site search. It’s easy to think that if the content is out there, your customers will figure out how to find it. But this isn’t usually what happens in practice, and it’s losing you sales.
Understand what’s going on
If your searchers aren’t finding what they are looking for and you’re not converting those searches into sales, you might need some help to reform your site search. The first thing you have to do is measure the problem in order to understand the problem.
- How many searchers are getting results?
- How many searchers are finding the results that they need to proceed along their buying journey?
- How many searchers convert?
- What are the keywords that are the most problematic?
- Which content is the most successful for each keyword?
Fix your site search
Once you know where the problem is — in the search engine or in the content (it’s often both) — you can work on the remedy. Searchers are the visitors that most want to buy your products, as they know exactly what they’re looking for. Your site search needs to make sure they find it. For guidance, try Four Things to Improve Your Site Search.
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