Using Search to win customers
Site Search - a Powerful Sales Tool
When users search for a product or other item on your website, they want quick and relevant results and need instant gratification in order to return. So try to improve your search usability feature by using a consumer-oriented strategy.
Improve the quality of your website Find out as much as possible about your targeted clients and learn to recognize their needs and simplify the way in which they can achieve their goals.
Keep in mind that simple is better The best position to place the search box is on the top right of the page. Avoid inserting other text input boxes for other functions in nearby areas. On home pages, search should be a type-in field and not a link, and should be wide enough to contain the typical inquiry.
Label the button "Search" Label the button "Search" since users are accustomed to this term, and usually won't spend time in reading other instructions or awkward labels. Make sure the "Enter" key is working as well. For complex websites you could also place a text link for advanced search, but preferably not from the home page.
Place the search button on the first page It is mandatory to place the search button on the first page, but keep in mind that customers might wander a little on your site and might need that option later. So keep your search button available on every single page. It is better to search the whole site by default. Make the search forms and results pages fit into the overall design of the web site: they should use the same colors, fonts, etc.
Site search usability To improve the search usability on your website, pay attention to the following attributes:
- Accuracy and relevance. Always show the most relevant results at the top of the search list. Place results that match all keywords before results that match single keywords. If results are from different categories found on your website, offer product links and product images. Provide a sufficiently descriptive title. The customer needs appropriate written and visual information to decide if he wants to buy a product.
- Synonyms and related terms. If no matches were found for the original query, show results for identical or related terms, whenever possible. Most users aren't willing or able to refine their query.
- Misspelled search items. This is one of the main reasons why the search feature returns no results. Provide useful matches and show the misspelled search term alongside the correct spelling. Allow plurals, common abbreviations and hyphenations.
- Sort and filter results based on mixed specifications. Clients want to find specific products on your website. They are interested in price, brand, color, size, etc. Offer them the possibility to sort the list based on one or more attributes.
- Generate statistics for the most frequently searched keywords. Find out the most frequent keywords that appear in search options, and focus your selling strategy on those products that are the most popular among users. Also, keep track of the pages where your users resort to search most often, to analyse if the content may not be clear enough.
- No result found. Set up a special page to be displayed when the search does not find any matches. If no results were found, provide tips on how to reformulate and expand the search. Explain why no matches were found for a specific query and display the term. On the same page include a search box for users to enter new search without having to return to the previous page.
- Provide advanced search options You can also provide advanced search options to help potential clients find what they are looking for. Suggest appropriate actions -using the singular or plural, verifying the spelling, related terms, links to different categories on your website, etc.
Another suggestion is to highlight the search terms found in the results page to help visually the user to scan the text.
Pay special attention to improve your website usability. If visitors can find without difficulty what they are looking for, this will lead to increased traffic and sales. Use the search feature wisely to enhance your customer's experience and increase their satisfaction and loyalty.
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