“No Search Results” Pages: 7 Tips to Optimize

Did you know about 15% of eCommerce searches end up on a “no search results” page?

And, to a user, this is like turning a corner and finding a street closed with road constructions.

Not only is it frustrating (and it worsens user experience), but it also can make a user leave your web. And that’s a potential customer you lose.

What can you do about it?

Offering them a “detour” out of that closed street and taking them to their destination.

And that is exactly what we’re about to teach you in this post: how to optimize “no results” pages so you can turn them into sales opportunities.

But first, we need to understand why this page shows up (and no… it’s not always because you don’t have that specific product in your catalogue or due to under-stocking.

So let’s see it then. 😉

👉 Why will your eCommerce’s internal search engine show a “no search results” page (even if you do have the product a user wants)?

We typically think that when a user gets this message it’s because the product is not in your catalogue.

And yes… sometimes it’s because of that. But in so many other cases, you do have that specific product in your store… but the problem is the search engine has failed to understand the user.

And this can happen whenever a person:

  • Uses synonyms: for example, they’ve typed “jump rope” and you’ve listed it under “skip rope”. Even if it’s the same thing, the search engine won’t be able to relate both terms and will show a “no results” page.
  • Makes spelling mistakes: maybe a user is unaware of a typo. You may sell iPhone products, but if they type “iPone”, you already know which message they’ll see on their screen, right?

Be it as it may, the problem is still the same.

✅ What happens when the customer can’t find the product they are looking for?

There are many reasons why we must avoid this page from showing up —should that be impossible, we must optimize it.

  • It worsens user experience: think of the street closed with road constructions. This is a frustrating situation for the user that forces them to make yet another search or browse your categories to find the product they wanted (in case they haven’t already left your store).
  • You risk losing that customer: since your web has shown a “no results” page, maybe they think you don’t sell that product and they go on another eCommerce.

Ok. So what can we do to redirect that user?

The most important thing is not to simply present them with a “No search results” banner, but offering them other options for them to keep on browsing.

We’re about to get into them.

Bonus: at the end of this post, we’ll also tell you how to make this page show up as rarely as possible. 😉

👉 7 best practices to optimize your “no results” page

Let’s get the ball rolling.

Make sure you write this advice down to improve user experience.

✅ 1. Offer tips to “fine-tune” their search results

Imagine you walk into a store asking for a product and the only thing you get for an answer is a cold “we don’t have it”. Just like that. No other options or even “sorry”.

Being treated like that, you’d naturally want to walk right out the door, right?

Well, a very similar feeling is what the user gets when they see a plain “no search results” message.

What should we do then?

Trying to establish a sort of “dialogue” with the user as we guide them.

And for that you can make suggestions such as:

  • “Make sure you have typed the search term correctly.”
  • “Use more general terms.”
  • “Try using synonyms.”

This is exactly what they have in this example of a “no results” page in Cotswold outdoor eCommerce.

no-search-results pagina

Besides, as you can see, they start by saying how sorry they are, just as a salesperson in a physical store would. This will give the text a more natural feel, resembling a conversation.

Another example.

In Living Proof’s store —in addition to all this— they include the search box, inviting the user to search again.

no-search-results

However, so many won’t even stop and read this message.

So we have go to one step beyond.

✅ 2. Show main categories of your online store

What do you do in real life when the street is closed with road constructions?

You place a detour sign to keep the traffic moving. 

And in an online store, that “detour” means pointing out the main store categories so that the user knows their way and keeps on browsing.

In addition to offering the above mentioned search advice, Cole-Parmer has included featured categories on their web.

So, even if you don’t find the product you were looking for, categories come in handy to keep on browsing.

search-results

Best Buy’s eCommerce has made the same bet; they display not only featured categories but also every single one in their store.

pagina-de no resultados

✅ 3. Offer alternatives in “no search results” page

“Those blue pants you’re looking for are sold out, but maybe you’d like the black ones” or “We don’t have that Nike training shirt, but how about this Adidas one?”

This is what a (good) salesperson would tell you so you don’t walk out of the store empty-handed.

And on an eCommerce, we can use a “no results” page to do exactly that; in other words, show the user similar (or alternative) products to the one they expected to find.

For example:

  • Different models of the same product.
  • Bestsellers.
  • Sales.
  • Products viewed by other users (making the best of social proof).

So even if they can’t find what they wanted, it’s likely they end up buying all the same.

For example, check out how Pull & Bear does it. Because their internal search engine has not found anything listed under “Boho necklace”, it displays other necklaces we might be interested in.

no-resultados

Next, Disney store has a different strategy, displaying the favorite seasonal products.

Search Results

If you want to learn more about this topic, in this post we show you how to use product recommendations strategically across your eCommerce (and not only on the “no results” page).

But we can still take it up one notch…

✅ 4. Customize product recommendations

What if the product recommendations above were not generic, and every user would get a different set depending on:

  • Previous searches.
  • Already-seen products.

This would help improve customer experience tremendously and increase the conversion rate, right?

That’s exactly what Zooplus does.

First, we’ve been browsing their web and have visited many canned cat food product cards.

Then, we have gone to the search box.

The term we’ve typed takes us to a “no results” page, where the store displays product recommendations. But these aren’t generic recommendations such as the ones we’ve reviewed above; instead, they are related to the product cards we were just looking at a while back.

Product Search -

This is known ad dynamic content.

If you’re interested in the subject, learn more about personalized recommendations and other kinds of dynamic content in this post.

✅ 5. “Did you mean…?”

We tend to type really quickly, so it’s normal to make mistakes (especially on the phone).

In these cases, it’s a good thing to have a search engine offering corrections, such as Mr.Wonderful’s. 

sin-resultados-pagina

When you type “dud”, it tells you there are no matches for your search, but it shows similar words for which there are results (the way Google does when you misspell a word).

This same thing happens with GAP store.

The difference lies in the fact that this store shows you results it thinks you might be interested in.

In this case, when we type “sok”, it automatically corrects us: “We couldn’t find a match for sok, but results for soft are shown below”.

no-results-page-

By skipping the step in between, it gets more user-friendly and it improves search experience.

As you can see, having a smart search engine comes in handy 😉

✅ 6. Microcopy for your “no results” page

Copywriting or persuasive writing consists in using a website’s text to make the user carry out a specific action; for example, buying a product.

And when we use copywriting on a short text (such as a buy-button or on a “no results” page) we’re talking about microcopy.

Its goal is to keep the user browsing and/or buying.

Let’s see an example to better understand this.

Disney Store uses funny microcopy; one of Disney’s famous characters tells us “Don’t be sad! We can find it!”

no results-page

So now you know; be creative and give this website a personal touch.

✅ 7. Provide contact information

Last, there are eCommerces that prefer making available a contact form or a chat window for the customer to send any queries.

Agricolors makes this same thing and tops it with a “We’re here for you” so the customer doesn’t feel alone.

Agricolors.fr

You can also do as Jimmy Choo does; offering a contact number and a customer service email address (in addition to providing the search box again), and providing you with some search tips, as we saw above.

No Results

👉 Ideally, you should look for a smart site search engine

We’ve seen best practices to optimize a “no results” page.

This is essential for cases in which, unfortunately, we can’t prevent it from showing up (such as when you don’t have the product they’re looking for).

But what if we told you it’s possible to reduce the number of searches that end in “No results found” down to 1.3%?

From 15% of searches down to a mere 1.3%. That’s a pretty relevant difference. 😉

So how do we achieve this?

It’s very simple; with the use of a search engine capable of dealing with synonyms and typos to offer the user what they’re searching.

Of course, not any search engine can do that. You need an advanced one or as we like to call it, a “smart one”.

That is, a search engine that uses NLP technology and artificial intelligence to learn synonyms and the most common typos amongst your customers.

This is exactly what smart search engine Doofinder does.

Thanks to these features (amongst many others), it reduces no-results searches to almost zero and it has increased sales of stores that use it between 10% and 20%.

If you’d like to see for yourself, click here to install Doofinder in your store and have a 30-day free trial.

👉 So what about your “no results” page?

Now you’re more than equipped to optimize your store’s “no results” page and turn it into a detour towards sales. 😉

Put this advice into practice and you won’t be missing any customers.

FREE EBOOKS