8 Tips for Optimizing a Website’s Internal Search Engine

An e-commerce site’s built-in search engine is an essential but often overlooked feature. Many customers start their shopping journey with a direct site search to get straight to the point and find the item or service they need. To help you optimize this internal search engine, we’ve put together 8 tips to make searches easier and improve conversions.

1. Highlight the search bar

Often overlooked, an e-commerce website’s built-in search bar is, however, used by a large number of Internet users. It should be easily identifiable (magnifying glass icon, different color, etc.) and accessible from all pages of the site, to allow a search without necessarily returning to the home page.

Also remember to position your search bar in a strategic place, such as in the header menu or side menus, as this is where visitors will tend to look for it.

2. Consider adding smart or autocomplete

Smart search suggestion makes it easy to redirect the user to the products they want to view. Thus, it proposes all keywords associated with the beginning of the text inserted in the search bar. In addition to saving time, this solution allows you to minimize spelling errors and limit searches to existing products on the site.

You can also improve the spelling and lexical tolerance of your research field, to make it more efficient and to be able to deliver the right products in the event of a small search error. To configure this tolerance, remember to verify that the plural keywords are actually proposed in the singular queries, etc. It’s also important to consider frequently used synonyms in your product’s lexicon.

3. Suggest additional or similar items

To maximize your chances of conversions during a survey, you can implement cross-sell and up-sell techniques. They are two different methods, which have the common goal of increasing sales.

Cross-selling corresponds to a commercial technique that consists of offering a customer interested in a product a set of other complementary products, in order to create a need. You can implement this technique in your internal search engine, displaying products complementary to the user’s search, to encourage them to buy them too.

Up-selling is a practice that consists of offering a product or service that is slightly superior and more expensive than the one the prospect is interested in, in order to obtain a higher margin (we also talk about “sophisticated”). It is possible to integrate this technique into your search functionality, offering similar products of a higher range than those sought after by users (nothing prevents you from also offering similar products of a lower range).

4. Offer filters to refine the search

To allow users to refine their search, you can implement a faceted navigation system. This feature adds a filter menu to sort products according to specific criteria like: availability, product category, brand, price, size, color… By adding these dynamic filters, you allow the user to automatically eliminate products that do not meet his search criteria and thus maximize the chances that he will quickly find what he came looking for.

5. Offer add to cart directly from search engine

Some users are familiar with the products they want to buy and therefore do not need to visit the product page. It is useful then to propose a button Add to Cart directly on your search engine results page.

Don’t forget to add a small preview image of the product in the preview. In fact, some Internet users in a hurry rely only on this criterion to add or not a product to the basket.

6. Take care of your metadata

The metadata used for your products (tags, titles, descriptions…) is very important for your search engine. Indeed, it is imperative that the keywords most used by customers to describe products appear in the metadata. The goal is to ensure that requests made by customers on your website redirect to the desired pages.

Don’t hesitate to set up analytics to determine the most suitable keywords for each product. To do this, you can use statistical data related to research on your website. Retrieve them from the back office if your in-house search engine solution allows you to access them. Otherwise, you will find the requests thanks to its web analytics tools.

They will allow you to get all the terms entered by your visitors in the search bar, as well as the results associated with them. If necessary, remember to change the metadata in your product listings to make your search results as relevant as possible.

7. Don’t leave your “no results” page blank

Despite semi-automatic search completion and spelling and lexical tolerance, it is possible and even likely that certain queries made on your site will not lead to any results. That’s why it’s important to spruce up your “no results” page with other products that might make the user want to make an impulse purchase. For example, you can integrate your product categories on this page Best sellers, best deals or suggestions.

8. Audit the relevance of your top keywords

To understand the relevance of the results provided by your search engine, it can be useful to perform an audit around your main keywords. Before performing this operation, you will first need to retrieve these keywords (through the back office or your web analytics tool). When you have the keywords you want to analyze, you can implement the following steps:

  • list all keywords to be analyzed in spreadsheet software,
  • test each request one by one observing the following criteria: relevance, number of results, product availability, etc.
  • if the queries do not seem satisfactory to you, modify the results associated with them.

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