SLI Systems has given me permission to publish 6 of nearly 80 tips on site search you’ll find in their latest e-book Big Book of Site Search Tips (free download).
1. Regularly check the top search terms on your site.
They can be good indicators of new items your clients are looking for, or product lines that are performing well. For example, SLI customer Jelly Belly used to offer only a 10-pound bulk case of its Champagne Bubbles jelly beans. Using information gleaned from site search, the company discovered that Champagne Bubbles candy was the third most-requested search. They decided to offer a one-pound container, and it’s now one of the company’s biggest sellers with wedding planners.
2. Review site search terms for SEO and PPC campaigns.
This is a great source for keyword research because it shows the language your visitors are using.
3. Review the searches with poor or no results.
A poor result is one that has a low clickthrough rate. These terms either relate to content that people are searching for that you don’t have or, more often, are examples of your visitors using different language to describe your content than you do. Both of these pieces of information are extremely valuable. If visitors are searching for content that you don’t offer, then you know that there is demand for that content and may indicate products that you should be stocking on your ecommerce site. If visitors are searching for products that you are not able to or don’t intend to carry, then you can address this by showing keyword-specific banners suggesting similar products.
If your visitors are using a different language to describe your content or products, you can either start using this language on your site (which will help with your search engine optimization as well), or you can add synonyms to your search so your visitors will find the items they’re looking for.
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4. Review your site search quality metrics to ensure your site search relevancy is improving over time.
A good site search solution “learns” by tracking visitors’ aggregate search queries and click-throughs to deliver results based on criteria such as popularity. This means that, over time, searchers on your site are presented with the most relevant search results and can find what they’re looking for more quickly and easily. Improved searches result in more satisfied customers and greater sales.
5. Integrate your analytics package with your site search.
It shouldn’t require too much effort to make sure your analytics software is tracking search activity on your site. Your site search provider might be able to help you with this. Being able to measure site search results – like any other marketing activity – demonstrates the value and ROI benefit you’re getting. For example, you can track the conversion rate for site search results pages as compared with other pages on your site, as well as the percentage of revenue generated by site search results pages. You can also determine the average order size for site search users as compared to those who don’t search; if your site search solution is performing well, those numbers should be higher.
6. Watch the keywords that are quickly gaining popularity so you’re able to continually meet increasing product demand.
Again, it’s important to understand the language of your customers – and like any trend, nothing lasts forever, including the search terms used most frequently on your site. Trends around popular terms may shift with the seasons, or with popular songs and movies, or with the latest look sported by the Jonas Brothers. The point is, as terms gain popularity, they signal to you that the products that go along with those terms will likely also gain popularity, so be prepared.
Download the whole collection of site search tips here.