Back to Basics: Tips for How to Get the Most from Site Search

Posted by Shaun Ryan, August 10th, 2009 at 6:59 pm PST
Categories: Site Search | No Comments »
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We spend a lot of time in this newsletter talking about the importance of a good site search – how it can lead to higher conversions on e-commerce sites, how it can improve the overall user experience and foster better customer relationships for any ecommerce or content-rich site, and how site search can provide crucial information for strengthening your  SEO and paid search efforts.

This month we get back to basics with some tips for how to make sure your site search – which is (hopefully) already delivering a good ROI for your business – perform even better.  (Not sure if your site search is delivering good ROI?  We’ll address that topic in one of our upcoming newsletters, so be on the look-out!)

  • Make your search box easy to find.  This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s amazing how many sites still have the search box either too small to see or hidden away amidst content clutter.  One of our customers – Black Forest Décor – did an experiment a while back to see what would happen if they gave the search box more prominence on the page.  So they made it bigger, used bolder colors to make it pop and moved it to the center of the page.  And guess what?  Their conversions and revenue from site search went up significantly.  You can read all about it here.
  • Make sure the search box isn’t confused with other boxes.  This ties into the 1st point above – again, you want to make sure the search box stands out and is easy to find.  You may have similar looking text entry boxes on your site where people can subscribe to a newsletter or enter a company’s ticker symbol to find financial information.  To differentiate the search box you can put the words “SEARCH” in it, move it to the center of the page or use different colors than you use for other boxes on the page.  If you have a form for people to subscribe to your newsletter – put plenty of cues around it that an email address should go into that box. Read more here.
  • Leave the user’s search phrase in the box after conducting the search.  This makes it easy to  for them to change the search after they’ve done it – for example they may want to add another term. 
  •  Include a search box on every page.  Some sites show the search box just on the home page but nowhere else on the site.  Many people will start navigating a site before resorting to the search – if you have a search box on every page, then it will make it easier for them to find the search when the navigation doesn’t work.  Having site search as part of your site-wide navigation assures visitors will always have a way to find what they seek.

Are there other simple steps you’ve taken to improve your site search that have had a positive impact?  If so, we’d love to hear about them.

And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to join our new LinkedIn group – Site Search + the User Experience  where you can share tips like these, ask questions and participate in discussions about making the most of site search and your customers’ experience online.  You can find the group here and then just click to join.

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