How to Use Site Search to Improve Your Onsite Content

Many of the people visiting your website know exactly what they’re looking for and have come to you to find a specific product or piece of information. These guys are known as ‘spearfishers’, and you don’t want to lose them just because your website doesn’t have the right functions in place to help them find what they need quickly enough.

That’s where site search comes in. This internal website function allows users to search your website to find the content they need straight away.

Why you should be using site search

According to findings by Forrester Research, 43% of website visitors head straight for the site search bar, and those who do search are 2-3x more likely to convert than those who don’t. Which makes sense, seeing as the number of clicks it takes to complete a purchase correlates directly with conversion rate. So if your user is spending too long clicking through your site to find what they need, chances are they’ll eventually give up and search elsewhere.

It’s important that your users can easily find what they’re looking for, and you can speed up their journey by providing an autocomplete search function. That way, results will pop up as they type, and as soon as they see what they’re looking for they can be directed straight to that page.

Relevant results and understanding what your customers want

For your site search to work effectively, it needs to provide relevant results. Let’s say a user searches for sunscreen, but the site search results bring up a list of hand creams. That user will probably get frustrated and exit your site completely. That said, recommended products on pages are a good way to provide alternative or additional options during your user’s shopping journey. For example, you could recommend after-sun cream, tanning lotion or anything connected to holidays. This will a) remind the user of other things they might need or b) make them consider purchasing something they didn’t know they needed, but now you’ve put it in their heads, they agree that it’s a good shout!

This goes hand in hand with understanding your customers. If you have a strong understanding of what your visitors are looking for, they’ll find the product they want faster and be more likely to make a purchase. Allowing them to refine their search results (by size, price or colour, for example) means your customers can find the exact product they’re looking for, or as close to it as possible.

Studies have shown that recommendations can provide a 10-25% increase in your website revenue, but if they’re not relevant to your users’ searches, you will probably lose them.

Don’t let misspellings get in the way of a sale

Sometimes, typos happen, but that shouldn’t keep your customers from finding what they want. If they misspell a product name and it doesn’t show up in the search results, they’ll assume you don’t have it and look somewhere else. If your competitors offer a site search function capable of understanding common typos and displaying the most relevant results, chances are they’ll secure the sale.

What you can learn from site search data

Having site search isn’t just helpful for your customers; the data you pull from it can massively boost your onsite content, too.

When a customer types a query into your site, they tell you exactly what they’re looking for, giving you the keys to an effective content marketing strategy. All you need to do is examine your data and you’ll see all the opportunities right in front of you.

For example, site search reports are bursting with keywords – after all, they reflect exactly what your customers want (but are struggling to find). Site search data can help you identify deficiencies in your content, as people might be searching for content that doesn’t currently exist on your site. But with all that site search data, you’ve got yourself a goldmine of ideas! Building on them will keep your current customers engaged, as well as attracting new ones through search traffic.

Site search data also gives you insight into how well your product is performing. You might be getting thousands of site searches for sunscreen, but find that you’re not seeing many conversions. This could mean you’re selling the wrong type of product, or the product isn’t relevant to your users. It can also let you know what your customers are interested in. For example, if loads of people are searching for coconut-scented sunscreen, maybe that’s something you should consider selling?

But how do I install site search on my website, I hear you ask? It’s easy, as long as you have Google Analytics for eCommerce set up.

How to set up site search in Google Analytics

Once you’re in Analytics, navigate to the admin section. From there, click on ‘view settings’ in the far-right column.

Scroll down to where it says ‘Site Search Settings’ and switch the toggle to ‘ON’. Then go to your site, search for a term in the search bar, and check the URL to see what appears before the search term. This is your query parameter.

In this case, the query parameter is ‘q’, but it could also be ‘s’, ‘search’, ‘term’ or ‘query’, depending on how your site has been set up.

Once this is in place, you’ll have access to valuable site search data that can help transform your content strategy by giving you nifty insights to give you the edge over your competitors!

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