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Today, it’s no secret that juggernauts like Google, Amazon, and Netflix set a high bar for search. As a result, users expect to search for what they want, whenever they want, and get immediate, relevant results. Unfortunately, many sites and businesses consider search an afterthought rather than a business tool. If your website has a generic search or un-optimized search tool, you might be driving users away from your site and costing your business money.

A custom internal site search helps you stay competitive by providing a business-tailored search engine to connect users to site content or product catalogs with speed and relevance. With custom site search, businesses can test, tweak, and iterate the search and UX to ensure it is always top-notch for users. Custom internal site search is a crucial function that enables business goals as well as a smooth customer experience.

 

How Does Internal Search Benefit Customers?

Custom site search elevates traditional search into a rewarding and satisfying experience for your users. There are a number of benefits for each site visitor:

Reduces Friction in the Search Experience

Custom internal search enables a streamlined and more efficient search process. Most modern websites and apps are chock-full of information in multiple formats organized in a variety of ways across different microsites and subdomains.

Even if your site is meticulously organized, the vast majority of website or app users don’t know your layout and many won’t spend much time trying to figure it out. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 43 percent of website visitors go immediately to internal search bars when they open a website. Thus, a properly optimized and relevant search function is the quickest way to connect them to what they need. 

This is part of the reason why shoppers on retail sites who use search bars spend 2.6 times more than those who don’t. A custom search tool powerfully connects users with a strong purchase intent to their needs without requiring them to perform extensive site exploration or trial-and-error searches.

Provides Better Relevance for Each Query

Unfortunately, users are often faced with an overabundance of vague or off-target search results, too few results, or, in some cases, no results at all. If a search engine is implemented without consideration of the user profiles and customer and industry expectations, search will suffer and your site visitors will notice. And when customers encounter a bad search experience, they remember it. 

A custom internal site search eliminates these customer pain points by providing relevant results to users. Relevance can be broken down into two main buckets–matching and ranking. 

Matching means finding applicable records for a query. To do this, the site search must tolerate user errors like typos and alternate phrasings. The site search also needs to be truly adaptable, considering factors such as natural language characteristics and partial word matching to make sure results are found for every query.

Ranking ensures the best matches make it to the top of the results. The best site search tools understand user’s online behavior and caters to their expectations and needs. For modern site search, personalization based on user profiles can drive optimized ranking. All of this adds up to results tailored to each users expectations, resulting in happier visitors, and, ultimately, higher conversion rates.

Improves UX for Site Visitors

There’s nothing worse for a user than a long list of un-prioritized results. With custom search, companies can highlight search results to help users understand why certain results are returned. They can also use facets and filters to build an intuitive interface for complicated searches, as well as pull content from different areas of the site to simplify the number of searches a user needs to complete.

An example of a search query where several attributes are required to explain the result: the movie title & the actor name.

But beyond the transactional experience, site search can do so much more than lead customers to quickly convert. When a visitor queries a truly optimized, custom internal site search, they should be delighted to discover content or products that they didn’t even know they needed.  Related products and content, seasonal items, or items the business wants to promote can be configured to show up in the search results for certain queries, driving users to further engage with the products or content on your site. 

In this online world, customers want to have their needs met ASAP, not to feel like a cog in the business plan. They also want to be provided with inspiring experiences. Custom internal site search can help you do both. When you unlock the potential of custom site search, your customers benefit from more relevant and personalized results, delivered instantly. This increases user satisfaction, builds brand loyalty, and increases the chance of return business. 

 

How Does Internal Site Search Benefit the Business?

It’s not just users who benefit from custom site search. Providing robust search functionality is a crucial way to remain competitive in a world where users have very high expectations for their search experience. After all, the more successful searches for your users, the more successful your business will be. 

Custom internal search helps to solve key challenges that companies face, too: 

Uncovering Customer Intent

One of those challenges is a lack of visibility into or understanding of what customers are looking for, due to a lack of data about their interests. A custom internal site search function can give a company a direct line to this information.  In fact, when a need arises, consumers often turn to search, expecting an instant, frictionless experience. These ‘Now Moments’ give the best opportunity to connect with customers and understand their intent, as each search generates actionable, analyzable data. Through search, the business gains access to the direct expression of what their users are looking for in an exact moment and can uncover strategic insights. 

Improves Content Discoverability

Another challenge is content discoverability. As a website grows, finding specific pieces of content becomes more challenging. Certain pages, products, or information may be easier to find through site search than the website navigation itself. 

Custom site search helps you make all of your content discoverable. No matter how many pages or documents you have on your site, as long as it is well-organized and indexed, your site search can parse them all. Custom internal site search tools equipped with federated search interfaces are particularly effective as they can search within several separate indexes at the same time. For example, with one query, the federated search interface could display blog posts, FAQs, and products in a streamlined and intuitive interface, where relevance can be tweaked to business and user specifications. A great federated search engine can also incorporate synonyms and account for misspellings and other critical variables in the search process. 

In this way, internal search maximizes the chances of a search delivering relevant results for the customer, without requiring special effort on your part. By extension, it increases conversion rates. Custom search also allows you to display featured products or related information to users who may not discover it elsewhere. 

 

How Real Businesses Benefit from Custom Site Search 

Coursera, an online learning platform with thousands of courses and millions of users, needed a site search function that could keep up with the company’s growth—without major effort from Coursera’s developers. Coursera needed intuitive site search that their developers could customize and test over time. Using Algolia, Coursera implemented federated internal search with an all-new UX, highlighting, tags, and more. As a result, Coursera has seen impressive improvements:

  • 10x faster search
  • 10% increase in pageviews for degree description pages
  • 30% of enrollments come from site search

 

Bringmeister, an online grocer based in Germany, was struggling to meet the needs of both users and developers with site search. Users were frustrated because they had to type exact product names to get what they were looking for, and developers were frustrated by performance issues and lack of agility with their open-source search platform. Bringmeister implemented a new search function built on Algolia, with amazing results. Bringmeister has seen a 63% decrease in users who exit from the search page, and search-related customer complaints have dropped to zero. In addition, Bringmeister has increased efficiency and agility in several ways: 

  • Teams can adjust search rankings without developer resources.
  • Business leaders can use query rules to promote certain products alongside other campaigns and partnerships. 
  • Bringmeister can surface new, lesser known products to customers through search. 

 

Why You Need Custom Internal Site Search

Sites that use custom site search have an advantage when it comes to speed, user experience, developer control, and efficiency. In a world where nearly half of users look for an internal search bar whenever they visit a site (and successful search more than doubles conversions), custom site search enables key benefits for remaining competitive and delivering a great user experience. 

Algolia makes it easy to create and implement great search on your website or app. With a variety of advanced features included out of the box and rich analytics capabilities, you can turn your site search into a competitive advantage.

Learn more about buying vs. building your internal search, or watch our demo to see Algolia in action. 

 

About the author
Pauline Lafontaine

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

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