SEO is obviously an important part of running a successful eCommerce site, but it’s far from the only thing that matters. Once you get visitors onto your site, you must ensure they can find the information they’re looking for. This is why site search features and functions matter so much.
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Site search functionality isn’t the sexiest topic, but it’s something that must be prioritized if you’re hoping to develop a successful site that satisfies the demands of the user. Here are a few practical points of discussion:
1. Develop an Intuitive Search Box
The first step is to create a good search box that’s functional and easy to use. And in today’s day and age where internet users are accustomed to sites like Google and Amazon that provide suggestions directly in the search box, you need to account for autocomplete technology.
You can see an example of an autocomplete site search on BestBuy.com. As soon as you begin typing in a word, the search box returns with suggestions and products that match the query. This intuitive little feature makes it much easier for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for.
2. Filter Product Results
If you offer a variety of goods and SKUs on your site, it’s imperative that you filter search results so that users are able to identify the products that fit their needs and preferences. Otherwise, you’re providing a lot of useless search results and asking them to find the ones that work for them. This latter approach leads to frustrated website visitors who are unlikely to return.
For an example of proper filtering, take a look at this page from Trip.com. Start by checking out the filters in the left-hand sidebar. Visitors can filter based on price, hotel class, hotel type, and user ratings. Then at the top of the page, visitors can ask for personalized recommendations based on their needs (budget friendly, family oriented, luxury, business, etc.). These may seem like small touches, but they alter the user experience (UX) in a pretty substantial way.
People don’t always use the search box to locate products. Some visitors don’t know exactly what they’re looking for and will navigate through your menu to find ideas. So, despite having a highly functional search box and powerful filter features, you can’t forget about website navigation.
In 2017, make sure you’re simplifying navigation. Nobody wants to deal with a complicated menu with dozens of different parent categories. Strategically label categories and consolidate as much as possible.
4. Avoid Zero Results Pages
We’ve all had that defeating moment where we search a website for a certain product and get the page that says something like, “Zero Results Found.” Never let this happen on your site. These pages are essentially dead ends where there should be a gentle cul de sac directing visitors back to your other products.
Instead of offering zero results for a product that doesn’t exist, offer suggestions based on the type of search they ran. Don’t have anything even remotely related to their search? Show them your best selling products, or even flash sale items. You have to do something to keep visitors engaged.
5. Speed Things Up
Did you know that even a delay of one second in page response can result in a reduction of 7% in the conversions for your eCommerce site? Customers expect pages to load within two seconds. Anything longer than this results in site abandonment, which leaves money on the table.
Creating a highly functional site that’s also fast is a huge challenge – one that big companies spend thousands of dollars on each year. The key is to use as many simplified features as possible. As previously mentioned, using an autocomplete search function is a good idea. A bigger picture option is to invest in a better server that’s faster and more efficient.
Still not good enough? The next challenge is to work on removing unnecessary elements from your site and optimizing bulky images that bog things down.
Make UX a Big Priority
At the end of the day, you must couple good SEO practices with seamless UX in order to attract, engage, and convert website users. And while there are many different components of website UX, the search features you implement, play a significant role in how users process the information and content on your site.
Make UX a bigger priority, and you’ll enjoy a healthy return on your initial investment.
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