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How to Find & Fix the Site Search Problems Ruining Your Website

Here’s a fact that may surprise you: 80% of visitors will leave a website if they think the search quality or results are poor. While you are focusing on improving your website’s navigation, or the color of your call-to-actions, your search tool may be the thing secretly driving up your exit rate!  

But when you are seeing issues with your website, and you suspect a lower quality search experience may be to blame, how can you know for sure? And how can you fix those issues for good? Explore our recommendations below:

Finding the Issues with Your Search

Time for some sleuthing. Start in your general Analytics platform. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you have any issue or not:

Is my site’s exit rate on the search page within the normal range for the rest of my website?
Your website’s exit rate, the percentage of people who exit a website on a given page, should be consistent across pages. If you are seeing a massive jump in your exit rate on the search results page, that is a big red flag.

How long are people spending on the search results page?
This one can go either way: too short or too long are both potential issues. If the average time on page is too short on your SERPs, that implies that the design or the formatting is immediately off-putting to users. But if they are spending much too long on the page, that could imply users are searching and searching through irrelevant results, unable to find what they are looking for.

Next, let’s move to your search analytics platform. (Don’t have analytics in your search? You are missing out on some vital information! Check out the Analytics we offer here.) Here are some of the most important things to look out for:

Is my search CTR within industry norms?
CTR, or click-through rate, is an easy way to determine how relevant and well-organized users are finding your search results. If you are serving them results highly relevant for their query, you would expect to see a high click-through rate on those results.
It is difficult to determine an ideal CTR across the board – it can vary wildly by industry, site size, and other factors. But in general, you should be seeing at least a 2 to 5% CTR. If less than 2% of visitors to the search page are clicking on a result, that is something that deserves more exploration.

Searches with/without results
Next up is examining what percentage of your site’s searches actually return results. It’s inevitable that some of your users will search for something that  doesn’t exist on your website – they may be confused, or looking for an old product, or massively misspelling the phrase. But if you’re seeing a majority of your searches returning no results, it could mean your search isn’t intelligent enough to be successful.

Ineffective searches
Lastly, take a look at your ineffective searches (aka searches that did not result in a click.) Are you seeing the same words pop up repeatedly as ineffective? Even worse, are these terms that SHOULD have an easy-to-find result on your website? If standard terms like “Pricing”, “Contact Us” or “Login” are showing up as ineffective again and again, you may have a problem.

Fixing the Issues with My Search

You have completed your investigation – congratulations! If you have made it this section, we must assume you’ve found an issue with your search. Once you determine your site’s search is not performing optimally, it is time to turn to solutions. So, let’s talk through some of the most common next steps to improve your search’s performance:

  1. Re-evaluate your search provider
    You know we had to plug this option – but its important! If you’re experiencing a lot of problems with your search resulting in major affects on your website, it’s time to consider whether your search software is really working for you. Want to see what an intelligent search that drive more conversions looks like? Schedule some time with us.
  2. Change your search rankings
    One of the first steps you can take to improve your current search is to improve your rankings. If your software isn’t intelligent enough to improve rankings automatically, you can do it manually! Find Page Rankings, or the equivalent in your tool, and elevate some of the pages you think are most relevant for popular searches.
  3. Edit your search design
    When your search is unattractive or does not look like the rest of your website, users are much more likely to leave your website. Search branding is an incredibly important but oft-overlooked aspect of your tool. If your search has different colors, fonts, or navigation than the rest of your website, it could be leading to a lower CTR or higher exit rate.
  4. Add additional functionality to your SERP
    Maybe your search results just need some organization! If you have hundreds or thousands of searches every month, but no filters or categories, consider finding ways to make your search results more easily parsed.
  5. Create new content on your website
    Lastly, it may be time to go back to the content strategy. When you’re seeing multiple ineffective searches looking for content you don’t currently offer…why not offer it? Take some time to build new blogs, pages or navigation tabs on your site to give the people what they want.

Ready for a better performing search?

Schedule a demo of Cludo, a solution that drives more conversions and makes for happier end users.