On the Web: What’s Your Internal Site Search Failure Rate?
Savvy shoppers don’t waste time clicking through multilevel navigational menus. Studies show they head right to the internal site search box and type item numbers, brand names or keywords to find specific items. If they don’t know what they want, then they may browse your navigation. But when they know exactly what to look for (or at least think they know), that box is your salesman.
Given its importance, many online marketers are looking for a benchmark for site search performance. Some experience failed search rates of up to 30 percent, and are rightfully concerned about abandonments. They’re often surprised to hear that, with the right tools, there’s little reason to ever return zero results.
Anything but an ‘Error’
Your site search function should report all failed searches and, at the very least, offer the browser something other than an error page with the ubiquitous “no search results found” message, which only frustrates the shopper.
Display the top 10 best-sellers along with suggestions on how to revise the search. Such suggestions might be checking the search term’s spelling, shortening its keyword phrase, etc. The “wording” on this page is most important; shoppers shouldn’t feel it’s their fault your search failed. It also helps to have an additional search box in the body area of this page to further encourage searching again.
What You Learn
The crux of any good site search functionality is a timely report of the actual search terms your shoppers use, especially when they return no results. In addition, you need the ability to redirect those failed search terms to the desired Web page.
There are many common search errors that you logically can redirect:
- Misspellings, synonyms, slang terms and brand names can be redirected to the appropriate product pages.
- Alternative search terms that you haven’t yet thought of, such as “freight rates” when customers are looking for “shipping and handling,” can be redirected.
- Products you don’t currently sell can be redirected to similar/substitute items. If you sell brand A of an item but not brand B, you can redirect to what you do sell. Of course, repeated searches for items you don’t sell should be forwarded to your merchandisers so they can decide if they want to source those items.
Fail No More
An important byproduct of your failed search report is a better understanding of what your shoppers call items and services. This helps you update menu terms and improve organic and paid search.