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In an online world where users expect relevant, timely results, site search needs to be much more than just a basic search bar.
When users enter your site and don’t find what they are looking for, they go elsewhere within seconds. Used correctly, however, site search can be a very important business tool, driving conversions, engagement, and generating valuable insights.
Design and optimization are the difference between satisfied users who can confidently maneuver on your site, and users who walk away due to a negative search experience.
Here are five key best practices to keep in mind:
By following these key practices, you will equip your site with a robust site search that allows users to find what they need — and perhaps even discover things they didn’t even know they needed yet.
Site search is an invaluable part of the user experience. Committing to a great search experience with relevant results and intuitive design can jumpstart your site and satisfy visitors.
Some visitors know exactly what they want when they enter your site. Others don’t. Great site search caters to both browsers and searchers.
More than 40% of site visitors go right to the search box. These goal-oriented site searchers are an important part of your website’s success because they are 216% more likely to convert than browsers. With site search you can help them find what they need quickly, refine their searches meaningfully, and help them engage with other related content on your site. Smooth, optimized search means happy, engaged visitors who convert.
For site browsers without a strong goal in mind, site search functionality can provide them with meaningful next steps. Search and discovery tools such as related searches, promoted banners, and filters and facets can help to pique their interest, leading them to satisfying experiences, content, and products. As long as their clicks continue to deliver value, they will continue to engage with your site.
Here are five ways to get the most from your site search:
The search bar is a portal for users to engage with your site search. Leave no room for doubt.
You can make the search box intuitive in several important ways:
Every time a user interacts with your site, they generate valuable and actionable data you can use to clarify user intents and drive business priorities. Analyzing your site search data can help you evaluate the quality of your search function, reveal important keywords, and give you insights to improve conversion rates.
The data can also drive specific improvements for different types of sites:
These days, users don’t just search from a browser on a desktop. From mobile to voice to virtual assistants, every device your visitors use needs optimized, relevant search.
Mobile search is expanding rapidly, with more searches performed on mobile devices than standard computers.
Mobile search should be built on great search with enhancements such as instant results, typo tolerance, and query suggestions. Mobile search should also take into account mobile-specific UX elements, such as whether a tab bar, full search bar, or icon is best for your content.
Voice search functionality is also a must-have. Roughly 36% of consumers have smart speakers, and 75% of smart speaker owners use it everyday. Great voice search provides relevant results by using dynamic filtering and providing context and personalizing results. Make sure yours lives up to the challenge.
Customers who don’t currently have smart speakers may still use voice to search in the future. Conversational search, which allows customers to use natural language patterns to interact with apps and websites, is on the rise, too.
Unfortunately, online visitors are not always experts in search. Research shows that customers need not only good search, but also great navigation and UX to find what they need on a website.
The role of a good site search, therefore, is to guide the user to what they ultimately want. This includes helping them refine and perfect their search terms, or helping them find what they need without typing the perfect query.
There are many ways to help make search easier, including:
The results page should be easy to read, comprehensive, and anticipate user needs—without being overwhelming. Consider a few ways to add value to your results page:
A great site search can make or break the user experience, especially for large sites with a diverse group of content. Check out these examples of great site search in action:
LegalZoom, a company that provides online legal assistance and resources, was faced with the challenge of making the wealth of legal information on their site accessible to users. To deliver relevant and timely results, Legalzoom optimized their site search with an advanced crawler that could index everything efficiently and help users answer even the most nuanced legal questions.
As Coursera’s course catalog expanded, the developer team found itself in a costly iteration cycle that was failing to keep the search up to par. They knew that they needed to improve the experience for their mobile users, enable discovery on the site, and provide an intuitive interface.
Coursera implemented a new search UX that was mobile friendly, offered search-as-you-type capabilities and typo tolerance, and allowed users to search across content types. With these improvements, Coursera saw a 10% increase in pageviews for target pages, and now 30% of enrolled students come from search.
iflix, an entertainment platform for emerging markets, relies on strong user analytics data to delight users with new content. Despite search being an integral way for visitors to navigate their site, iFlix’s results weren’t relevant or served intuitively.
Replacing their inefficient search with mobile-friendly search that allowed for easier and faster iteration drove a 20% increase in their conversion rate.
Optimized site search brings users to the products, content, and services they want in less time with less hassle. It is key to encouraging users to engage, convert, and buy.
Algolia’s rapid search and intuitive interface is built on all of the best practices of effective site search. Equipped with voice search, mobile optimized, and boasting an analytics dashboard,, Algolia can help you reach your customers, wherever they are.
Watch our demo to see the features that have powered sites around the world.