The Underdog of Shopify SEO: Your On-site Search Function
Think of it: according to research, nearly every 3rd person who visits your store will use your on-site search function to look up a certain product.
And each person within that third will be two times as likely to convert than any regular visitor.
It makes the on-site search function one of the most undervalued and cost-efficient ways to improve any store's revenue.
So what are, to be exact, the steps that lead to an effective site search? To answer the question, we've compiled a list of the top 7 tips that will help you maximize your search function's potential. Let's get started!
#1 - Ensure you have a Zero Results solution
If your site search is lacking zero results fix, then you are likely losing customers unnecessarily.
It may seem like a basic function, but many site searches offered as default by many platforms do not include it.
So, as you may already know, a zero result occurs when a customer searches for something which either is not on in your catalog or is usually there but is now out of stock.
So instead of showing only a blank page, zero results must search leads to other relevant products on your store so that the customers with a high purchasing intent can see the other items they might want to buy.
It’s also important that the analytics captures the term, which caused the zero results to search so the merchant can either order more items if something is out of stock or consider buying a new product if many their customers are searching for it.
#2 Implement good Spelling Tolerance
Similarly, spelling tolerance might seem like a no-brainer but is equally essential nonetheless.
Take, for example, the word ‘shoes.’ If a person browsing on your site makes a typing error and accidentally searches for ‘shoos’’, you want the search engine to recognize this and return the correct results regardless of the misspelling.
Otherwise, if the shopper’s search has an error, and the search engine returns no results, the customers are less likely to search again - meaning you can quickly lose a potential customer.
#3 - Make Sure your Search Bar is Prominent
As much as we might like them to, most shoppers are only not going to spend much time exploring our websites. It is imperative to make the search bar as prominent as possible, to make sure they don't churn.
It can be done in various ways, such as: placing the bar centrally, contrasting colors with the background, or including an icon / a call to action in the search field.
#4 - Provide Intelligent Synonym Capabilities
Different people often refer to the same item in different ways. Think mobile vs. cell phone, jumpsuit vs. playsuit, trainers vs. sneakers, and so on.
As a merchant, you need to allow it by making your eCommerce site search adjusted for the synonym use. It can be easily done by implementing a synonym control tool that will return the correct product results.
The basic versions of such tools work by using a set synonym dictionary, whereas others working with AI technology offer a more advanced approach, such as using machine learning to ensure that the new synonyms are continually being added.
Let’s take the example of organic cotton. In Sweden, it is common to call this ‘green’ cotton. The AI recognizes the trend in people searching for green cotton who end up buying organic cotton and suggests to the merchant that they add ‘green’ as a synonym for ‘organic.’
#5 - Make Natural Language Processing Work for You
Natural Language Processing (NLP) refers to how an AI can read, understand, and derive meaning from a human language based on natural language data processing. This technology is integral when developing an excellent site search capability.
Take, for example, the search term ‘White Shirt 40’. Using NLP, an excellent site search will be able to tell the difference between every single word, ensuring accurate results. It will know that ‘White’ is the attribute you’re looking for, ‘Shirt’ is the product, and ‘40’ is the size.
#6 - Show Images in Autocomplete
When it comes to marketing products, pictures do speak louder than words.
Scientifically, the human brain retains only up to 20% of the information it reads. However, as soon as this information is paired with an image, our information retention skyrockets to 65%. This shows how showing product images as part of your search engine autocomplete can become an essential and helpful tool for your store.
#7 - Consider Basic Personalization
We all know how important it is these days to provide customers with personalized shopping experiences.
Not only does it make them feel valued and unique, thereby increasing the chance of repeat business, but it also ensures they can immediately access the items they require - meaning they are more likely to convert.
In brick and mortar stores, personalization is seen best in the form of a floating attendant – a clerk who is on hand to ask customers if they need help. A website’s search bar is the online equivalent of this store clerk. It’s where your customers go when they want to find something specific.
That’s why it’s essential to have a search system that is at least in some way personalized to the individual shopper.
Many companies offer basic personalization, usually by way of aggregation. Their software collects general information on the masses and then tailors search results depending on trends and how most people behave. While this is great, as any personalization level has been proven to increase conversion, more profound levels of personalization also exist.
Suggested Reading: UX vs. UI: How to Improve Both
#7.1 - Maximise Sales with Individual Personalization
Deeper personalization, meanwhile, collects information on the specific habits and preferences of the shopper. Let’s take a customer called Jane as an example.
- Jane goes to website A and searches for t-shirts. Website A doesn’t have any personalization, so her query returns 200 results, sorted by linguistic relevance. She looks at the first page of results, doesn’t see anything she likes, and leaves.
- Jane visits website B, a site with basic personalization. She again searches for t-shirts, and again gets 200 results. This time they are sorted in order of what is most popular with others - plain black and white t-shirts for men and women in various sizes. She looks at the first page, sees a t-shirt she likes, and adds it to cart.
- Jane then visits website C, one that uses AI to enable individual personalization. She searches for t-shirts, gets 200 results, and her first few hits are t-shirts for women, in her general size, in her favorite colors and patterns. She adds three t-shirts to her cart.
So on website C, the AI running in the background is, in real-time, curating Jane’s experience based on her actions. So if she searches for women’s clothing in a specific size range and looks at vibrant colors and patterns, this is what she gets more of.
This example shows that while the basic level personalization can increase conversions, a more in-depth and individual approach can be even more useful.
As you can see, a well-implemented on-site search function can go to great lengths in simplifying the customers' experience with your brand.
From providing relevant search results through synonym control to showcasing photo previews, these features help you keep your customers engaged longer and improve conversions as a result.
So go ahead and make sure to try some of these ideas. Their result might be incremental at first, but over time it will surely pay off.
Site search function FAQ
Findify is a powerful ecommerce tool, which increases store's conversion by offering such products as Personalized Search, Smart Collections, and Recommendations. To book a demo, click here. For contacting, jot down firstname.lastname@example.org.