Discover How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Site Search for Higher Relevance and Increased Purchases
In today’s digital age, where everything is just a click away, consumer patience and attention span are at an all-time low. Google, offering immediate and relevant results, has conditioned users to expect this level of efficiency— a benchmark that’s crucial for boosting conversion rates on ecommerce platforms.
On-site search functionalities are not just a feature but an essential tool. They enable customers to swiftly locate their desired items, add them to their carts, and finalize their purchases, thereby increasing conversions.
With key shopping events like Cyber Monday and the holiday season rapidly approaching, the opportunity to elevate your site’s conversion rate is prime. In the following section, we’ll explore five effective strategies that ecommerce managers can employ to enhance their on-site search performance, ultimately boosting conversion rates.
Leverage Google Analytics to Gain Insight into Your Customers’ Behaviour
A conversion-oriented on-site search strategy begins with a deep understanding of your audience. You might have a general notion of how the majority of your shoppers search—do they hunt for products via SKUs, categories, or unique features? However, a robust analytics tool like Google Analytics can validate these assumptions and offer more comprehensive insights. If you already have a Google Analytics account, simply navigate to Settings and activate Site Search Tracking.
Integrating Google Analytics with your website’s internal search uncovers a wealth of data, revealing all keywords users employ while searching on your site. This includes the most frequently used search terms and the ones that lead to the highest conversions. Once you grasp what your customers are looking for, you can refine your ecommerce site to cater to these specific needs. This leads us to our next discussion point…
Optimize Content to Align with Keywords
Effective keyword integration into your ecommerce platform’s item names ensures that customers receive relevant results for popular search queries. Utilize data from Google Analytics to ascertain the pertinent keywords for a product or a group of products, and then incorporate these terms into product names and search keyword fields.
Keyword optimization in your ecommerce site’s search function ensures that all versions of a word, including singular/plural and root words, are taken into account in the search results. For example, a customer search for “running shoes” will yield products that contain either “run” or “shoe” in their name. Similarly, a search for “short” will also present results for “shorts”.
For SuiteCommerce users, the recommended practice is to use the “Starts with” match type for item names and the “Starts with exact” match type for both item names and SKUs. The “Starts with” approach aids in type-ahead searches, displaying a list of suggested items in a dropdown as the customer types. The “Starts with exact” strategy is beneficial for customers who have a specific item in mind and search using the manufacturer or retailer SKU.
An example of effective utilization of this strategy is seen with Klim, who employs the “starts with exact” match type to allow customers to search by SKU. A search for “4052” returns all product SKUs starting with this number.
Consider employing exact matching on item names. If a customer is familiar with the precise name of the product they desire, their chances of conversion increase significantly if they can locate the product swiftly.
Harness the Power of Synonyms
The usefulness of Google Analytics extends even further. The tool also presents you with commonly used alternate names and spellings that users search for, which can be incorporated as “synonyms” in your ecommerce platform. By leveraging synonyms, you can help eliminate searches that yield no results.
Several types of synonyms exist. Group synonyms, for instance, generate results for multiple words with the same meaning. For example, a search for “sneakers,” “runners,” or “training shoes” would yield results for all three keywords. A specialist retailer selling backpacks might configure “office backpack,” “commuter backpack,” and “laptop backpack” as group synonyms, as these terms are relevant to someone seeking a work backpack.
One-way synonyms produce synonyms when a “trigger word” is entered in the search bar. For instance, if someone types “tablet,” it retrieves results for “iPad,” “Galaxy Tab,” and “Kindle Fire.” However, this only works in one direction—a search for iPad will not return results for all brands of tablets. Beyond misspellings, one-way synonyms are beneficial for abbreviations (such as “HP” bringing up results for “Hewlett Packard”) and varied spellings of the same word (like “tee shirt” vs “T-shirt”, or “gray” vs “grey”).
It’s crucial to utilize synonyms judiciously. When used properly, they enhance the customer experience, but excessive or poorly configured synonyms can lead to confusion and potentially damage the credibility of your site’s search functionality.
Implement Fuzzy Matching (But Use it Wisely)
Consider fuzzy matching as a more adaptable variant of keyword matching. Fuzzy matching permits queries that are a character or two off from a keyword to appear in ecommerce site search results. This encompasses missing characters, extra characters, and jumbled letters. For instance, if a customer intends to search for “shorts” but accidentally types “sorts,” “shortss,” or “shorst,” they will still receive relevant results due to fuzzy matching.
Toad & Co’s site search, for example, employs fuzzy matching effectively. Shoppers who misspell “sweater” in their search bar will still be greeted by relevant sweater results, rather than encountering a disheartening “no results” message.
Businesses should resist the temptation to apply fuzzy matching to all fields under the assumption that it will always yield search results. This approach often leads to a multitude of false positives and consequently irrelevant results. It’s generally sensible to apply fuzzy matching to the name field, but it should be avoided for the description field. The voluminous text in descriptions significantly increases the likelihood of erroneous matches.
Optimize Your Catalog Data
Integrating products into your catalog should go beyond merely uploading a spreadsheet to your ecommerce platform. The product name and description should encapsulate the information customers are seeking, rather than just replicating the internal name on the spreadsheet. Uniformity in sizing and dimensions is critical—you can’t have some T-shirts listed by S, M, L, and others measured in inches.
Don’t assume that a product description optimized for SEO will suffice for on-site search purposes. This underscores the importance of dividing information into distinct fields and only making the relevant field accessible for site search. By refining your catalog data, you ensure that your ecommerce platform becomes a more user-friendly, efficient, and effective tool for your customers.
These straightforward modifications to your ecommerce site’s search settings can substantially enhance conversion rates, thus significantly boosting your revenue. The assertion that site searchers convert at twice the rate of other users is actually a modest estimate—certain research indicates their conversion rate is at least 200 percent higher. Moreover, these customers represent your most valued clientele, contributing to a substantial portion of your revenue.
This compelling evidence underscores the necessity of prioritizing the optimization of your catalog for on-site search. It’s not merely an operational adjustment—it’s a strategic move with a considerable payoff.