[Faceted Search Guide] How to use your e-commerce search filters to guide your customers (and sell more)

Imagine you’re going camping this weekend and you need a tent.

You go to your nearest outdoors store, but when you get there you realize there’s a huge variety of tents. So you call an employee and explain to them that you are looking for a tent with these specifications:

  • 2-person.
  • Waterproof.
  • Lightweight.
  • Below $150.

In 5 minutes, the employee shows you all the available options that meet those criteria, you choose one, and leave the store happily.

Of course, such a service is easy to implement in a physical store, but in e-commerce we can’t provide our users with the same services…

… Or, can we? 😉

That’s where this post’s main element comes into play: faceted search.

Would you like to know what it consists in and how to implement such a feature in your store?

Well, don’t go anywhere because we’re about to tell you the key elements to turn your e-commerce search filters into a wonder weapon to sell more.

Here we go!

👉 Faceted Search (or what makes search filters so important for your e-commerce)

Let’s start by breaking down the concept.

Faceted Search is a feature that allows the user to utilize a variety of filters (or “facets”) to find the product they are looking for more easily.

There are two types of filters:

  • Characteristics: color, brand, size, material…
  • Ranges: customizable numeric intervals. They are especially used for setting a minimum and maximum price.

For example, in this screenshot you can see many of the filters we’ve mentioned.

faceted-search example

✅ What are the benefits of having a search filter?

The main benefit is the one we introduced above: with these filters, the user can find the specific product they are looking for much faster (without having to go over your entire catalogue comparing prices, brands or sizes).

And if, on top of that, these filters are integrated on the actual search browser (as in the image above), that’s way better because the user won’t even need to leave the homepage.

This means:

  • Better navigability: thanks to these filters, the user can intuitively and quickly get to the product they want. And navigability, as you know, is one of the elements that help improve user experience.
  • Better web positioning: if that person has no difficulty in finding what they are looking for, they will spend more time on your website. This translates into a lower bounce rate (users that leave the web without clicking once) and better SEO positioning.
  • Increased conversion: obviously, the more comfortable a user is on your web, the more likely it is for them to end up buying.

To summarize: search filters = happier customers = more sales. 😉

👉 Essential features of any perfect search filter

Right, so we’ve seen the importance of implementing faceted search features in your e-commerce.

But, hey! Not any way of doing it works.

Here are some of the basic requirements your search filters should meet:

  • Results update in real-time.
  • The customer can know how many products match their search.
  • The customer can enable many filters at the same time. 

Going back to the example above, we can see how this filter meets the above-mentioned characteristics. It has narrowed down our search by enabling different traits (brand, price range and category) and next to each of them the amount of available products is displayed.

faceted-search on ecommerce

In addition to this, it’d be interesting for you, as manager of the e-commerce, if the filter were automatically updated.

In other words, if you include a new Orbezogo coffee maker reference in your catalogue, it should be automatically displayed among the search results when someone enables both that brand’s filter and a coffee maker filter.

For that to happen, it’s imperative that the search engine can be hooked up to your product feed. 

👉 3 tips to implement faceted search features in your e-commerce (+1 SEO-driven advice)

Surely, you’re now asking yourself this:

“This looks great, but how do I set my e-commerce’s faceted search for it to be useful for my clients?”

Here are a few ideas.

✅ 1. How many filters should I add? Moderation is the spice of life

This tends to be the first doubt that comes to mind.

What happens most of the time is that by adding as many filters as possible, we believe we’re helping the user but, in reality, we’re doing the opposite.

We provide them with so many options they get stuck.

Instead of offering them 20 different options, it’s better to only include 4 or 5 criteria that you actually know will be relevant for their search.

So how can you know which are those 4 or 5 perfect options?

This takes us to our next point.

✅ 2. Find the most relevant filters for your audience

This will vary significantly based on your buyer persona profile.

For example, let’s say you sell shoes. A person looking for shoes for kids has very different needs from a person looking for casual shoes.  

The former would rather filter their search by age or size while the latter would find it more useful to choose shoes from a specific category “cocktail shoes”, “heels”, “pumps”, etc.).

Here are some ideas that will serve as reference.

➡️ A. Basic filters

These ones pop up practically across every sector with slight differences.

Here we’d add:

  • Brand.
  • Category.
  • Color.
  • Price.
  • Size (for clothing items).

Only by using these filters, your customers will be able to narrow down their search.

But we can still go beyond.

➡️ B. Themed facets

Let’s suppose you own a fashion e-commerce.

It’s summer and you just got a shipment with this season’s collection dresses. Something your customers are surely interested in.

So, you can create a “Summer 2021 collection” search filter, for instance.

Or, if you have unsold stock from the previous collection and want to get rid of it as soon as possible, you create a filter that reads “last items” or “Spring collection final sale”.

Ultimately, it’s ideal to think about the products your customers can be most interested in at a particular time and help them find them.

✅ 3. Speak your customers’ language

We always say it’s very important to know everything about your ideal customer.

That includes the words they use on a daily basis.

The thing is… if you do, you can set more relevant filters because:

  • They emulate the way they speak: if your customers use the term “jogging”, don’t create a “running shoes” filter. Even if they understand what that means, “jogging” will be more familiar to them.
  • They understand typos and synonyms: even if the user writes “cooler” or misspells it for “coolr” (and you’ve listed the item under “refrigerator”), search suggestions should include the filters that match refrigerators.

Note: easy; you don’t have to spy on your customers with a hidden microphone to know how they speak. Below, you’ll learn about a tool that allows you to get that info. 😉

✅ BONUS: be careful with filters and SEO

Depending on how they’re set up, search filters can create their own URLs.

Which means that product cards will be repeated several times (you’ll realize this easily because you’ll notice that the browser’s URL changes when you add a filter).

That implies two problems for SEO.

The solution is pretty complex, and it implies canonicalizing those URL, so the best option is to leave it to a SEO expert.

Learn more about this issue on our post about SEO-friendly pagination.

👉 How can you implement Faceted Search in your e-commerce?

Faceted search is a feature that is implemented by most internal search engines.

Be careful though. Not all of them meet the criteria we have explained above in this post. In fact, the most basic search engines are pretty limited and offer very basic settings.

In order for you to create search filters that improve your user experience in your store and increase conversion, you need a smart search engine.

One like —for instance— Doofinder, which includes different features that boost faceted search, such as:

  • Typo correction and synonym recognition: it uses NLP to pick up your users’ language and offer them more relevant results.
  • Synchronization with your product feed: every time you modify a product from your catalogue, filters will automatically update too.
faceted search example

In addition, Doofinder can help you know which search terms are most common among your customers. This can be very useful when creating more relevant filters for your audience.

But we know one piece of evidence is worth a thousand words. 😉

So, by clicking on this link you can install Doofinder and have a free 30-day trial on your online store.

This way, you’ll be able to see for yourself all the advantages a smart search engine offers you.

👉 Show the best “facet” of your products and skyrocket your store’s sales

As you’ve seen, search filters are a very useful tool for offering your customers the best experience and increasing your store’s conversion.

So don’t settle for the default ones in your search engine.

Set up the filters that can be more relevant for your users and you’ll see how your customers (and your sales) will thank you for it. 😉

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