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The internet is chock-full of content. With new content and products added daily, it is more difficult than ever for users to find relevant information. And since users only search for what they need in the moment, they may be missing out on new and relevant products or content. 

Businesses, similarly, are playing in an increasingly crowded and growing market, and acquiring and retaining new customers is harder than ever. Businesses struggle to show visitors the full range of site offerings and engage with customers in a ways that support KPIs. 

Content discovery offers solutions to the problems users and businesses face. By enabling businesses to break through all of the noise, it connects visitors with new and relevant content.  In fact, content discovery is essential for businesses to stay visible and succeed in any industry.

 

What is content discovery?

Content discovery acts as a bridge between site visitors and content, enabling those visitors to find new products, content, and services. At its best, content discovery connects visitors to the site’s contents in helpful, inspiring, and relevant ways. It can also power an intuitive browsing experience, motivating users to engage with new content and reconnect with favorites.

Content discovery, sometimes referred to as search and discovery, is best used as a strategic part of the business’ larger site search strategy.

Ultimately, the user can discover new content in two main ways:  

  • Retrieval. In this case the user visits a site with a focused intent to find something very specific. They likely search in the search bar or use the site navigation intentionally to find what they need. In the process, they may encounter promotional banners in search results, promoted products, or related content showing things they did not anticipate needing. 
  • Exploration. In this case, a user enters a well-optimized site with more broad intent and finds new content and products. A successful discovery may start with superior search, but in most cases it happens through various features of the site, such as content layers, product shelves, promotional banners, editorial curation, product and content recommendations, and more.

The content discovery process should not be confused with content discovery networks, which are the advertisement platforms that allow businesses to promote their content on other sites across the web. Advertising platforms like Outbrain display boxes of links on other websites to encourage users to leave the page and visit a sponsored link. 

Content discovery in the context of search and discovery is much different. Rather than driving more low-quality traffic to the site (much of which will result in an immediate bounce), content discovery helps you better convert the traffic you already have. A great content discovery system within your own website helps users find what they need more easily and which discourages bounce rates and encourages conversions, leading to much higher ROI from your site traffic. 

 

How search and discovery helps the end user and the business 

Content discovery has powerful implications for both the user and the business.

For the user, benefits include:

  • Predicting user needs: Businesses that understand customer behavior and preferences can show content and products that best align with future needs. The site can be curated to nudge users toward what they’re likely to want next. For instance, when a user is checking out, offering complementary products can both add value to the consumer and increase average basket sizes. This also means a user will always have a path to discovery, and almost never encounter a “No Results” page.
  • Offering personalized experiences: Today, 63% of customers expect services and experiences to be personalized. Personalizing the browsing and search experience significantly increases the likelihood of conversions and improves the overall user experience. Search and exploration can be heavily personalized based on past transactional history and shape each visitor’s journey through the site. This is not just for upsells. Rather, passive browsers can be guided to relevant products to turn them into active customers.

 

Benefits also extend to the business, including: 

  • Improving key business metrics. By showing users the depth of the catalog, range of products, and the full extent of content (all within a great UX), businesses can drive priority KPIs. For e-commerce sites, content discovery goes hand in hand with increased average purchase and sales. For media, it supports customers loyalty and drives average revenue per user. And for all sites, more engaged customers leads to higher conversions.
  • Driving marketing goals. Furthermore, content discovery systems allow marketers to promote and test new products. When the content discovery is embedded directly into the site search, this is effectively providing an organic marketing channel. It would be a waste to not take advantage of the free advertising.

 

Building intuitive content discovery through search

Search is a powerful tool that can shape the entire experience visitors have on the site. From searching, browsing, and recommending products, search is key to enabling effective content discovery.

 

Four Hints and tips for your content discovery

The following tips can help create a comprehensive and effective content discovery process:

  • Enhance your search: Did you know that on Netflix 20% of discovery streaming originates through search? By enhancing your search, you can empower customers to discover new things. One way to do this is by enabling discovery queries matching broader intent. By drawing connections between the initial query and related content, you can enrich the set of results with inspiring and relevant content. 
  • Optimize the UX for discovery: The search interface should not be simply a text box. Rather, it should support federated search that allows users to explore multiple types of content with one search, displayed via a robust UX, flexible filters, and categories. This way, users can interact with the website through search and do not have to learn custom workflows to find content. You can also invite your users to browse more contents using query expansion features and dynamic filters. More and more people are also looking for UX that feel as natural as human interaction. Search can also be enhanced through voice search capabilities.
  • Gather data and iterate: A powerful part of search is that users are telling you exactly what they want and how they expect to engage. You should regularly review common search queries and determine how to continue to optimize the search results to better improve the customer experience. Shaping your browsing experience depends on user trends and your business strategies. Your promoted content should change dynamically based on account user trends and business strategies. through various formats: banners, carousel, content shelves.
  • Customize your promotion ranking strategy: You should build a custom content ranking strategy based on your personal business and user needs. For instance, you may want to push new products, location-specific items, or higher-margin goods to the top of the search results. The content discovery experience should be tailored to each individual.  Research shows 48% of consumers spend more when their experience is personalized. Use automated recommendations to retain your users and increase the average basket size, or the session time. 

 

Finding a Search and Discovery Partner

Search and content discovery are key to offering a compelling user experience on any site. Algolia’s comprehensive search platform can enable rich content discovery experiences for a range of diverse use cases:

Learn how Algolia for site search can drive engagement with your company’s site audience with tailored experiences. 

Watch our webinar “Conquering the crowded media landscape” to see how media companies can help users find superb content in new and interesting ways while increasing conversions, CX, and ROI.See how e-commerce sites can decrease the effort it takes for visitors to find the right product and increase the conversion rates with our webinar “Supercharge content discovery and drive growth.”

About the author
Pauline Lafontaine

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

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