Boosting Engagement through Site Search

Apr 30, 2013 8:36 PM  By

search-300Getting a shopper to stay on your website is a lot like riding a bull; you have eight seconds to keep them there before they buck off unfulfilled and head to another site, according to the 2012 Big Book of Site Search Tips by SLI Systems.

In fact, according to MarketingSherpa, 43% of visitors heading to your site will immediately go to the search box which makes it more important than ever to make it as user-friendly as possible. After all, when site search is done correctly, it will help boost the user experience, boost the user’s engagement, and convert the ever elusive browser to a new customer.

Here are just a few tips from the SLI Systems report that will not only help you create a quality site search for your website but also improve conversations.

Position of the Site Search Box

The best advice in the report when it comes to site search is to look to Google. Major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo all feature their search boxes right at the top center of their page – which is exactly where SLI Systems recommends you place your search box on your ecommerce site.

“Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll down to be able to conduct a search, or spend much time looking for the search box,” SLI Systems recommended in the report.

“Keeping it at the top of the page makes it easy to spot and less likely that people will leave your site,” SLI Systems said in their report.

This box should also be placed in the same location on every single landing page of your website and again on the bottom of each page. This way the visitor will always know how to navigate around your page, according to the report.

The Size of the Search Box

When it comes to the size of the search box, the report states, bigger is definitely better. It needs to be large enough to contain most common search phrases and product names. Short or small search boxes, according to the report, “make it hard to read a long search term, which will increase the likelihood that site visitors will spell it incorrectly,” leading to a “no results found” prompt. If a user gets this prompt, according to the report, they will most likely leave.

The report found that the average size of a search box is 245 pixels wide, leaving it easily visible and therefore increasing the chances of it being used by a visitor, according to the report.

Your site search box should also set itself apart from the other input boxes on your site including email, newsletter subscription, or special offer boxes. In order to do so, the report recommends placing text such as “Your Email Here” in the box so users know where to type what.

footwear-500It is also a good idea to include text such as “Product search” or “Search by Keyword or Item #” in the site search box, according to the report. The report recommends being a little more engaging with the customer citing other retailers such as Footwear etc. who uses “site search examples: women’s shoes, black sandals, size” in their box.

Review Search Metrics on Your Site

The site search bar is a great tool you can use to see what language your customers use to find the products they want. That type of information will reveal the more popular products you are selling but also the language they are most likely using when searching the web for a similar product. If you are obtaining several search queries without any search results, it could also mean that you are not supplying your client base with the products they want.

According to the report, “an effective site search solution can also be a gold mine of information.” It not only can provide the shopper with the products they are in search of but also provide you, the retailer, with data about how people are searching your site. This type of information, according to the report, “can be used to improve the overall user experience, as well as other areas of your marketing – including merchandising, paid search, and SEO.