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Cludo has created a helpful guide for marketers and webmasters shopping for a new site search product or a replacement to their current solution. This guide will help you ask the right questions and look for the right functionality when evaluating site search solutions to meet your specific needs and ensure you make an informed site search purchase decision.

Why Selecting the Right Site Search Platform
is Important

 
The search function is a vital part of a website’s usability. While you may think that your website’s navigation is easy-to-use, many visitors are seeking more direct pathways to reach their goals. This is important for high-value visitors who are more “objective focused" - they are looking for something specific and are more likely to convert. In these cases, your site search solution should ideally act as a quick and informative portal to guide the visitor to the information they are seeking. This is not just a “nice to have” function – it has a direct effect on the ROI of your website and content marketing efforts.

Site Search is an Investment

Whether you are new to the concept of site search or have worked in the digital marketing world for years, it’s important to know what an investment site search is. A quality site search is not only an investment for your organization, it’s an investment in your site visitors and customer satisfaction. Providing a top-notch search experience is a guaranteed way to keep visitors engaged on your site. By keeping visitors happy, they are more likely to return to your site – and with return visitors and increased engagement comes useful analytics that will form your online strategy going forward.

Create a Better User Experience

With a fully functional site search solution, marketers can learn how particular bits of content relate to others by following them down the search funnel. This knowledge can be used to leverage lesser-known content within the site by tying it to more popular search terms. This also enables marketers to exert a significant amount of influence on the user journey within their search, by using various tools to refine results, tag, and tie pages to search terms. This is a solution for marketers who are constantly dealing with customer drop-off and a lack of online engagement due to irrelevant content. It improves the search experience as well as the overall user experience, helping visitors drill down general results to specific ones; marketers and content managers can then take this information and build a pathway within the search that can essentially guide the user down the track they want them to be on, all the way to conversion.

Access to Search Analytics & Deeper Insights

Equally important are the insights into your customer’s behavior, needs and desires that your search solution should be able to deliver. A search query is a direct communication from your user about what they are seeking from your organization - a robust and intuitive analytics platform is essential to capture, distill and act upon this data. By implementing a search and insights solution, marketers can gain a clearer view into what content is making a difference to their bottom line, saving time for their staff while answering their visitors’ needs.

 

Given the importance of this functionality, Cludo has created this helpful guide for marketers and IT professionals shopping for a new website search product. Let's dive in!

What to Consider Before Selecting Your Website’s Search Solution

Amount of Content

Content heavy sites will logically require an intelligent site search that can execute more refined searches. Smaller sites however, will not need as sophisticated of a search and a simple solution can manage to index the limited content. However, if your small site has plans for growth, you should include the implementation of a more powerful
site search in future plans.

Volume of Traffic

Sites that plan on growing their traffic significantly will do well with employing a separate server to handle the load brought on by visitors. Another more viable option is to implement a search from a third-party search solution which shifts your search to a separate server and provides you with the additional advantage of various features and elements that could help you optimize your search to cater to your traffic.

Control Over Search Results

Having control over your search results
comes with the effort of reviewing, adjusting, and optimizing the search. Therefore, you should consider a solution that makes that level of control user-friendly and effortless.
An actionable and customizable analytics dashboard can be extremely helpful, as can an AI-powered solution that can assist you by fine-tuning your results based on activity data.

Customizable Features

While your search may be intuitive enough to offer useful results, it is important that you consistently monitor it to ensure that it remains relevant and targeted towards your visitors. Staying updated on your users’ behavior, objectives and queries should be part of your ongoing process. An extensive toolbox of customizable features enables you to keep in-line with the trends of your visitors and optimize search to meet their needs and your site’s goals. Here are some core features you can use to provide the best search experience possible.

Manual Page Rankings

This is crucial for adjusting which pages rank first in the results. No matter how good your AI is at prioritizing pages effectively, having a tool like this is sometimes necessary to give you control over relevance and shape results to your site goals. The page ranking tool can act as a way to control the user funnel as you can move certain pages to the top of the
results, thus guiding the visitor’s path
throughout your site.

DIRECT LINKS

A good time-saving tool to have is a quick-linking tool that sends your visitors directly to a page on your site based on their query. This tool provides speedy results, efficiently bypassing the extra step of reviewing the search results page in between. This increases the efficiency of the search and moves the visitor along to the information they are looking for faster, improving engagement
and their perception of your website.

INSTANT CONTENT UPDATES

Your search crawlers will automatically re-index your content at regular intervals. However, there may be instances where you add, update or delete pages on your site and need these updates to be reflected in the site search results immediately. Your site search solution should offer an easy way to instantly index and update content so the necessary pages will appear or disappear from the results instantly without having to wait for the crawler to re-index your site on a schedule.
 

BANNER INTEGRATION

Dynamic and customizable Banners are an advanced search feature that can change based on the search term. Your site will benefit from using Banners to provide focused and visual direction. When tied to the search results, Banners are a prominent, stylistically different way of promoting content based on the search query. Banners can be used as part of your site’s marketing strategy to promote content and products, or for various informational purposes such as displaying opening hours, rules and regulations,
events etc.

TARGETED ENGINES & CONTENT BOOSTING

It's important that your search solution allows you to adjust results that follow your general content strategy, where the search can be adjusted to focus on certain areas of your site. For example, you may want the search for your web shop to be specific to products within the web shop, rather than pulling up results from across your entire website. Your site search should also have the capability to boost certain areas of your site that you deem
more relevant to your users based on
specific attributes.

FACETS & FILTERS

In many cases, with multiple pages of results to parse through, providing a focused search process will help visitors find what they seek more efficiently. Guided search using facets and filters changes the search experience
from a time-consuming hunt to a path of exploration and discovery. By providing a more guided search experience, you’ll serve visitors an easy-to sort overview of all your site’s relevant content, categorized in a
logical manner. They can then drill down
into sub-categories to create a more concentrated search.

Site Search Analytics & Insights Capabilities

Site search reveals what your users are seeking from your business, and with every query of theirs comes a treasure trove of internal data. It’s crucial for your site search to provide an overview of your users’ activity in order to get a general idea into how it is performing. A quality site search will be able to sort through that data and categorize it into detailed analytical sections for you, delivering deeper insights into what your visitors are looking for and how their behavior is trending. In your quest for the perfect site search solution, consider one that provides you with sufficient data on search activity and user queries to help you optimize your search effectively. Having powerful analytics that can update in real-time is also a great benefit that can help you keep track of your search performance and provide highly targeted content to your visitors.

 

Your Site Search Solution Analytics Should Be Able to:

TRACK QUERIES THAT REVEAL NO RESULTS

There is nothing more frustrating than a search that returns no results. Being able to track these “zero result” searches is crucial as it exposes in-demand content areas where your site is lacking and can help keep future visitors from leaving your site.

PINPOINT INEFFECTIVE SEARCHES

An ineffective search is a search where the visitor does not click on any of the results that are delivered to them, meaning the results have little to no relevance to them. These searches with a zero-to-none click-through rate mean that either your search engine is not performing well, or your site lacks content in a given area. Therefore this is a valuable alert to examine your search engine settings or improve certain content areas within your site to remedy this issue.

IDENTIFY SEARCH ORIGIN PAGES

A “search origin page” is the page a visitor was on when they initiated a search. Comparing the search terms used to the content on the origin page is critical. It is a key indicator of whether the visitor was satisfied with the content on the page and is continuing forward, or if they did not find the information they were expecting to discover and are stuck. In the latter case, you’ll want to examine the content on the page, as well as the navigation paths on your site.

IDENTIFY TRENDING & POPULAR SEARCHES

The volume of searches for certain keywords may increase based on a specific period of time, like a particular season or event. Discovering what these keyword trends are can help shape your content strategy as they provide insights into what visitors are seeking at particular times. In addition to trending searches, popular search words are based on the overall searches conducted by visitors across time. These searches show what visitors search for most frequently and indicate what kinds of content they seek out most, providing insight into the evergreen content to take advantage of by updating or expanding upon it for further site optimization.

BREAKDOWN SEARCHES BY LOCATION AND DEVICE

Analyzing searches through enhanced analytics such as device data and geolocation data are especially useful when looking to understand your users. These analytics show not only what your users are searching for, but how and where they search for it. With device data you can break down user activity based on what type of device they search with, whether it be a desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone. Geolocation data provides an overview of where your users are searching from, allowing you to create content based on location.

INTEGRATE WITH OTHER ANALYTICS TOOLS

The important thing to do when analyzing search data is not to look at each element individually, but to see what story they tell when cross-referenced against each other. Gaining the entire context around the search query is important. This is only possible if you're able to easily integrate search analytics with other website data tools like Google Analytics or Siteimprove, etc.

Search that Meets User Needs

Reducing friction and speeding up your visitors search journey is the best way to increase website appeal and customer engagement. There may be times where your visitors search with terminology that differs from that within your website’s vocabulary. The best way to handle this is to ensure that you have predictive technology built into your search platform that can deliver based on visitor needs. Ideally, you should have the following features available, to create a more intuitive search experience.

PREDICTIVE SEARCH

The act of searching can sometimes require a bit of effort, or numerous searches to convey a thought. These efforts can be significantly lowered with the addition of an intelligent autocomplete tool. Ensure that the site search you invest in has the power to predict queries and suggest relevant ones based on preliminary typing, so that the search
process is sped-up and your users exert
less effort.

SEARCH-AS-YOU-TYPE

A good time-saving tool to have is a quick-linking tool that sends your visitors directly to a page on your site based on their query. This tool provides speedy results, efficiently bypassing the extra step of reviewing the search results page in between. This increases the efficiency of the search and moves the visitor along to the information they are looking for faster, improving engagement
and their perception of your website.

SYNONYMS

In the event that your visitors use words, jargon, slang, or abbreviations that are different than what is on your site, you can add synonyms to tie those words to those that you already use. For example, people searching for "footwear" should also be able to find content related to "shoes" or "boots". This is also important when matching technical terms or acronyms to their related content items.
 

MISSPELLINGS

Visitors often make mistakes when typing, or don't know the proper spelling of a word (especially with long, technical terms), but that shouldn’t keep them from being served relevant results. Having a search solution with a built-in dictionary to detect and correct the words is vital - it will help your users find the answers they need without having to spend more of their time searching.

INTELLIGENT AUTOCORRECT

One way to help users search faster and provide a smoother, more efficient search experience is through Intelligent Autocomplete. Based on previous user behavior and successful searches, Intelligent Autocomplete predicts the most likely search word(s) for your site visitors and adjusts the results as they continue to enter characters into the search.

“DID YOU MEAN…?” PROMPTS

For vague search terms where your search engine cannot detect the query, having a “did you mean… ?” function can help pose suggestions from a similar theme based on your website’s content. This helps retain visitors on your site by encouraging them to explore alternatives, rather than have them leave because their search turned up no results.

Other Considerations

Here are some other important elements you should take into account when selecting your site search solution. These items are the key to selecting a search platform
that will serve the needs of both your IT and marketing teams.

What Site Search Can do for Your Industry

Insurance

If you work in the insurance industry, you know that the landscape is constantly shifting and consumer needs are evolving. But between regulation changes, maintaining compliance and product development it can be difficult to focus
on your website and update in a timely manner.

Whether it be through product offerings or knowledge articles, your website needs to provide your members and agents the information they need. By implementing a quality site search, you will enhance the user experience, increasing the likelihood of member retention.

Government

In these rapidly changing times, an informed citizenry is a top priority of every local and federal government. A quality site search will enable you to easily guide your constituents to the specific information they are looking for online and promote the most important content.

Quality site search solutions can provide government and public sector clients with the site search tools they need to support, inform and engage their citizens. An intelligent search promotes self-service, allowing you time to
focus on what you do best.

Education

Whether you work for a school district or major university, keeping your students and staff informed is vital. But we know managing your school’s website isn’t always top priority – which is where implementing an optimized site search comes in.

A site search solution will save you time while improving your site relevance through machine learning. Whether your goal is to attract more students or keep instructors informed on the latest policies, site search can enhance the overall site experience (while reducing phone and email inquiries.)

Retail/eCommerce

It’s no secret that intelligent site search is an absolute necessity for any retail or eCommerce website. But it’s not enough to just have search, your search needs to deliver relevant results with a personalized touch.

As a retailer, the more you can get into a visitor’s shopping cart the better. Implementing an optimized search will not only provide the results your users need to convert, but will serve intelligent suggestions that compels them to purchase additional items.

Your website’s search solution is an extraordinarily important asset for both customer engagement and visitor insights.

Your site search selection should be a carefully considered task. You will find that a site search solution that is intuitive and equipped with the right functionality will not only make your website more user-friendly, but will make your role in optimizing it much easier too. A robust search engine can result in: 1) Less time spent on the phone with customers, 2) Higher conversion rates, and 3) Behavioral insights that can help you optimize and plan for the future of your organization.

Ready to see how your website could benefit from a site search solution like Cludo?
Request your 15-minute search audit today!