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Have you ever searched for something online, clicked a link to a promising website and then you land on a webpage that doesn’t answer your questions? Have you ever navigated to a site that you know had good information but can’t find it through the site’s navigation? Filtering through modern websites can be a hassle today. With so many sites having over 50 pages or more and similar content on multiple pages, finding exactly what you need can be tricky and search engines don’t always get you where you need to go. This means that having a powerful and intuitive site search feature in your web development is very important. Let’s break down the benefits of site search.
Site Search Benefits Your Consumers
The fact of the matter is that a site with site search installed helps visitors stay longer on site, find what they were looking for, make purchases, contact you and potentially come back again. We have all been disappointed before when we click on organic results and the site we are taken to doesn’t answer the question. Without site search, chances are most people will leave the site completely. Many consumers today will go straight to the site search before navigating for an answer. Site search is beneficial because:
- It satisfies the “I want it now” problem for today’s searchers
- Consumers expect site search on today’s websites
- Reduces bounce and exit rates and increases time on site
- Can help suggest related content the customer is interested in but didn’t know to look for
Great For E-Commerce
On e-commerce sites, up to 30 % of users will use the search box and show intent to buy by typing in searches for product names, product codes and product categories. Great e-commerce sites utilize site search with added features that maximize on online shopper’s intent to buy. E-Commerce sites can use filtering options to narrow down “Clothing” to “Men’s” and then even further to “Dress Pants.”
Site search boxes should be placed in a prominent position on the page and be visible across the entire site, ideally near the top navigation. By using text in the search box before the text area is clicked, you can help give search parameters and advice to help consumers better find what they are looking for. (Make sure the text disappears when users click. This can get annoying if they have to manually delete text) Lastly, aut0-complete or auto-suggest is a great feature for site search because it speeds up the search process, avoids incorrect spellings and ensures consumers will receive the search results they want. Below are the benefits of site search for e-commerce:
- Improved Sales- Effective searches means customers can easily find products they want and then make purchases.
- Increased Time on Site- Easier site search means customers will stay on site longer, perform more searches and eventually return to the site after a satisfied experience.
- Customer Retention & Loyalty- Satisfied customers can lead to return customers and positive reviews and/or word-of-mouth.
Allows Better Analytics
How can you prove that site search is worthwhile? How can it help the site owner? The answer….Analytics. Our preferred Analytics partner, Google Analytics, offers a site search analysis feature that can help you dig deeper into the minds of your consumers and improve your site with your findings. The first step is setting up site search in your profile
- Click the Admin tab at the top right of any screen in Analytics and click the account that contains the profile you want to set up Site Search for.
- Use the Profile menu to select the profile you want then click the Profile Settings sub-tab.
- Under Site Search Settings, select Do Track Site Search.
- In the Query Parameter field, enter the word or words that designate an internal query parameter, such as “term,search,query”. Sometimes the word is just a letter, such as “s” or “q”. Enter up to five parameters, separated by commas. For information about identifying query parameters, see Identifying Search and Query Parameters for Your Site.
- Select whether or not you want Google Analytics to strip the query parameter from your URL. Note that this strips only the parameters you provided, and not any other parameters in the same URL. This has the same functionality as excluding URL Query Parameters in your Main Profile: if you strip the query parameters from your Site Search Profile, you don’t have to exclude them again from your Main Profile.
- Select whether or not you use categories, such as drop-down menus to refine a site search.
- If you select No, you are finished. Click Save Changes.
- If you select Yes:
- In the Category Parameter field, enter the letters that designate an internal query category such as ‘cat, qc,’.
- Select whether or not you want Google Analytics to strip the category parameters from your URL. Note that this strips only the parameters you provided, and not any other parameters in the same URL. This has the same functionality as excluding URL Query Parameters in your Main Profile: if you strip the category parameters from your Site Search Profile, you don’t have to exclude them again from your Main Profile.
- Click Apply
The benefits of tracking your site search is pretty unbelievable. The Usage report can show you how many people use the site search feature versus those that do not and if you have e-commerce capabilities, it can even show you what percentage of site search users make a purchase so you can gather ROI data.
The Search Terms report shows you what keywords people are using, what items they may not be able to find within your site navigation structure, what products are missing traffic and which keywords need more focused attention. You can also see destination and start page reports which can highlight dead ends on your site, pages that don’t answer enough questions and ways to improve on-page optimization.
Site search is beneficial to e-commerce and content websites alike. A great site search software can help you retain customers, increase sales, track under-performing pages and keywords and even more. The easiest way to get started with site search for those that don’t use it currently, is to find the best option for you. Two great options are Google’s Custom Search which is an inexpensive option for small and medium-sized businesses and another partner of Beacon, Nextopia. Read a Q&A session that Beacon’s CEO, Mark Dirks had with Nextopia’s CEO & Founder, Sanjay Arora to find out even more about Nextopia’s site search options.