3 Reasons Why Your Site Search is Costing You
Having excellent site search is like breathing: it should be totally fluid without a second thought. The moment there's a hitch, however, you’ll know immediately.
People don’t remember or even think about how well a brand’s site search is working. They’re already reviewing the search results to find what they were looking for. But bad site search immediately leaves a terrible impression. Why? Because suddenly someone had to think about something that they assumed every website had figured out ages ago: its search bar.
Unfortunately, good site search isn’t a given. It’s the invisible yet critical component to amazing digital experiences that connect people directly to what they're looking for. When site search isn’t smooth, people notice — and that can be costly.
The following are the three biggest flaws in site search that cost brands' time, money and customers:
1. Terrible Search Experience
Site search should simply just work. You type what you’re looking for in the little box and you’re sent directly to that thing. You don’t have to add words or put quotes around things, and misspellings shouldn’t completely divert your results. It should all flow intuitively.
But too often, search apps don’t provide the type of experience that users expect. Spellcheck is spotty. Typeahead is sluggish and often nonexistent. Search results take forever to come back and don’t even look like they belong to the same theme or template as the rest of the site. Each of these little stumbles can snowball into a poor search experience that leaves consumers feeling cold and irritated.
2. Terrible Search Results
Search results have to go beyond seeing if a query exactly matches text in a page or PDF. It must understand user intent. Users don’t always know the right words to call things that they’re searching for. Site search should just know what you really mean and get you to that thing as quickly as it can.
Searches for a product name should go to the main page for that product. Searches for things like contact or customer support should go to the obvious parts of the site. Search results shouldn’t be just what's in the content management system, but the full gamut of data and documents that's publicly available online. Better search results support the feeling of an entire search experience that fundamentally “gets” what someone is looking for.
3. It Takes Forever to Fix Anything
On top of everything being rickety, your team is trying to keep all the usual plates spinning with the website and other properties, including new content, traffic reports, conversion metrics, content calendars, etc. Spending any extra time worrying about search is time away from the critical care of your organization’s online properties. There’s just no time for anything to lose attention, and the end result means that a break in process could be a potential time-suck that no one wants.
If you’re a web manager, you can’t spend all day fussing over your search app. You aren’t a search professional. Most teams can’t hire or afford one. You just need to get going and get it up and running and know that it's working and continuously improving. That’s why site search usually falls by the wayside for most teams. And when you do finally get the attention and resources you need, you end up with long, painful, complex development cycles. You can’t spend all your time playing catch-up. Right now you’d settle for site search that's just not awful.
Andy Wibbels is the director of marketing at Lucidworks, a connected experience cloud solution that connects experiences throughout the entire user journey to meet customer and employee intent in the moment..
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