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Today’s online users have high expectations for search. Thanks to Google and other sites, they’ve come to expect certain search patterns and functions, like autocomplete, in all of their search experiences. Autocomplete, or predictive search, is particularly important because it leads users to better search results, thus improving the user experience. In this article, we’ll explain what autocomplete is, describe the benefits, and give some tips for using autocomplete in your search.
Autocomplete is a search feature where the search engine predicts the user’s query and provides suggestions as the user types. The user can select any of the autocomplete suggestions and be taken to results without having to manually type every character.
Autocomplete and predictive search, often used interchangeably with terms such as autosuggest, query suggestions, and search-as-you-type, are important for driving retention and conversions. This is largely because they help users find relevant results faster, thus reducing the bounce rate due to common issues such as user confusion, distraction, or the inability to find products or contents because the search engine can’t parse the query.
Any site in any industry can benefit from predictive search. For example, e-commerce sites can use it to help users navigate their product catalogs, while media companies can use it to help users find relevant news, videos, and other content.
Users are accustomed to effective search, but their own search skills are relatively weak. In fact, only 1 percent of users know how to shift search strategies to get more effective results. Autocomplete can mitigate this problem in a few ways:
A great autocomplete experience needs to stack up to the likes of Google. To provide an optimal user experience, autocomplete and predictive search tools should:
While autocomplete is a necessary component of a site’s search, fine-tuning the relevance for your users can be difficult to figure out alone. Partnering with a search as a service partner like Algolia can provide you with the search UI, analytics, and other tools you need to create the best search possible. Read our e-book Search Beyond the Box to see how search capabilities like how autocomplete can help your business provide a more intuitive and response site search experience.