Optimizing onsite search for improved E-commerce conversions

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May 27, 2024

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Optimizing onsite search for improved E-commerce conversions

Optimizing Onsite Search for Improved E-commerce Conversions

According to the folks over at Econsultancy, up to 30% of e-commerce visitors use internal site search. And get this – these search-happy shoppers are known to convert up to 5-6 times higher than the average non-search visitor. In fact, they account for a whopping 14% of all revenue! Yet, how many e-commerce sites actually pay attention to their site search? Too often, it gets ignored. Well, not on my watch.

I’m about to walk you through a bunch of opportunities to improve your internal site search and watch those conversion rates skyrocket. But first, let me share a little personal story.

A couple of weeks ago, I was digging into the internal site search of one of our clients. And you know what I found? In all but one case, the average revenue from people performing site searches was significantly higher than those who didn’t. Get this – for one client, fewer than 10% of users were searching, but they accounted for nearly 40% of the site’s revenue! Talk about a goldmine.

Sadly, only 15% of companies have dedicated resources for optimizing the site search experience. Another 42% include it in a wider range of optimization responsibilities, and the remaining 42%? They just neglect it altogether. Worse still, a mere 7% of companies report learning from their internal site search data and using that data in other areas of their business.

What the…? If your visitors are telling you exactly what they’re looking for and the words they use to describe it, how can you not use that information to your advantage? I mean, come on, people! If you know most of your site search users are looking for “coffee tables,” don’t you think you could do something with that data?

Alright, enough ranting. Let’s dive into some practical tips to get your internal site search working overtime for your e-commerce business.

Make Your Search Bar Impossible to Miss

Remember that statistic about how 30% of e-commerce visitors use internal site search? Well, you’re not going to get anywhere near that if your visitors can’t even find the darn search bar.

Back when I was working with Black Forest Decor, they made their search bar more visible and guess what happened? They saw a 20% jump in conversions and an 84% jump in revenue for customers using search. Not too shabby, eh?

So, what did they do? They:

  1. Increased the size of the search bar: It’s a simple tweak, but having a larger search field makes it more prominent and eye-catching.

  2. Added microcopy: Putting a little text inside the search bar, like “Search products…” cues users on what to do.

  3. Decluttered the top navigation: By cleaning up the header, the search bar stood out more as the main focal point.

  4. Positioned the search bar prominently: They put it front and center, making it the first thing visitors noticed.

The total sum of these changes resulted in a 34% increase in the overall conversion rate of the site. Not bad for a few simple tweaks, right?

Improve Search Results with Natural Language Processing

Let’s say you pull the search report for last quarter and notice that your top search, “coffee tables,” has a 34.6% exit rate after the search and a 12.9% search refinement. That means more than a third of users who searched for “coffee tables” didn’t find what they were looking for and left the site altogether.

In some cases, this could be because the product is discontinued, out of stock, or something you simply don’t carry. But instead of just showing a “no results found” page, try this trick from Matt Cutts: show a “related products” page (for small retailers) or a “temporarily out of stock” option if you plan on carrying the item again.

To reduce those keyword refinements, it’s all about delivering better search results. To find out what the refined terms are, click on the keyword, then “refined keyword” in the primary dimension area. Now you can see the most common refinements for that search query.

In some cases, it may be as simple as improving how you’ve tagged content or products on your site, and removing products you have no intention of re-stocking. Depending on the size of your store, you might want to invest in a more robust search solution to provide even more relevant results, like SearchSpring or SearchNode.

Leverage “Searchandizing” to Boost Revenue

Okay, here’s a term I bet you haven’t heard before – “searchandizing.” It’s the practice of taking advantage of the searched keyword to feature more profitable products in your search results.

For example, let’s say a customer searches for “digital cameras” on your site. Rather than just showing them the typical point-and-shoot options, you could sneak in a DSLR camera at a higher price point. The visitor may not have been considering an upgrade, but seeing it alongside the more common choices could encourage them to splurge.

Heck, you could even throw in some “Clearance” items to move older inventory while making the newer stuff look even more appealing.

Even small sites, like BuyAKilt.com, have seen a 76% revenue increase just by adding product filters to their site search results. By giving searchers the ability to sort their options more effectively, they boosted conversions by 26.0% and shopping cart visits by 19.8%.

The whole point of optimization is to optimize closer to the money, right? So if you can reduce friction for high-value users who already know what they want, you’re gonna get a lot more bang for your buck.

Make Search a Priority, Not an Afterthought

Look, I get it – there’s a lot that goes into running a successful e-commerce business. Between managing inventory, optimizing your ad campaigns, and keeping up with the latest trends, site search can easily fall to the wayside.

But here’s the thing: if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to make search a priority, not an afterthought. Think about it – up to 30% of your visitors are using that little search bar at the top of your page. Shouldn’t you be doing everything you can to make sure they have a seamless, enjoyable experience?

The good news is, with the right tools and a little elbow grease, you can turn your site search into a conversion-boosting powerhouse. We’ve covered a lot of ground here, from making your search bar impossible to miss to leveraging natural language processing and “searchandizing” to drive more revenue.

But the key is to never stop optimizing. Site search is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done deal. Keep an eye on your analytics, test new ideas, and stay agile. Because when it comes to e-commerce, the brands that dominate are the ones that are constantly innovating and adapting.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out MCRSEO – the Manchester-based SEO agency that’s helping e-commerce businesses like yours crush their conversion goals. Just sayin’!

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