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Oh was I wrong. Yes, I said it…I was wrong. Several years ago, I downplayed Site Search…maybe because I was (and still am) caught up in search engine marketing and analytics. Well, at least that’s my excuse. But now when I speak to groups about website strategy, I take time to emphasize (sometimes overly) the importance of a good site search tool. Hey, if I’m going to push my clients to answer the 2 key questions, “What do you want people to do when they visit your site?” and “How are you going to measure success?”, then I would be a poor consultant if I didn’t strongly recommend a good tool to allow visitors to effectively search their website.
You can learn so much from site searches.
- What are people searching for? Your visitors are telling you what’s in demand. They are letting you know where your navigational schema may need tuning.
- What are people searching for that leads to a conversion? Your visitors are telling you which products are attractive and which aren’t. If they search on something, they generally WANT it. So why aren’t they buying it?
- What are people searching for and NOT finding? Believe it or not, I think this is the most valuable aspect of site search. If they are not finding a product, then maybe you should consider carrying it, or maybe there’s a synonym that you need to create in the site search tool to help them find it.
- What are people seeing in their search results? Some site search tools only show exact matches. Some make sure that “close” results are shown too. The important thing is that the search results must be accurate and help the visitor find what he or she is looking for. It must build up trust and provide options to keep the visitor engaged.
- Do people navigate differently when using a site search? Not only are the search results important, but the options and choices around the results are critical for continued assistance to the searcher.
But as a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, what if we could take it a step further? What if we could integrate site search directly into the analytics, or “segment” site search traffic so that we could track the activities of visitors that use site search? What if you could determine if pay-per-click traffic converted better by using your site search results versus an internal landing page? You can and you should. The data is available. So why not use it to optimize the user experience, and more importantly, maximize your return?
As I tell all of our clients, “Make your website work for you!” Sure, everyone wants more traffic, but what if you could get more leads or sales from the traffic that you already have? What would be the impact if you could increase your conversion rate by as little as 0.5%? I’ve been in IT for a long, long time and it’s a fact that data is king. Those that understand this, use tools like SLI Site Search, Google Analytics, Google Website Optimizer and many others to turn the data into information to improve their business.
Beacon partners with SLI Systems and highly recommends its Knowledge Search product. Our development team spent about 6 months researching several top site search products and selected SLI Systems because of 4 major things:
- Its ability to learn from search users and produce search results accordingly
- The flexibility of its features (and a 30-day free trial!)
- Search engine friendly results
- A fantastic, very responsive support team
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I have never worked with a 3rd party software firm that is more responsive and helpful. Nowadays, it’s rare to find a great product with dependable support. If you are looking for a site search product, it’s worth your time to check out SLI Systems. After working remotely with them for the last couple of years, I finally got to meet with their team in person last week in Cupertino, CA…further confirming my opinion.