How to optimize the internal search engine of your Shopify theme (and why you might lose many sales if you don’t)

Did you know that, on average, 30% of eCommerce users make use of the internal search engine?

And not only that.

Also, in Doofinder we have verified that when a user makes an internal search, it is 4 to 6 times more likely to end up buying. 

But here’s the bad news…

According to a study conducted by Baymard Institute, over 60% of eCommerce internal search engines offer low-quality search results.

Specifically, when using a basic search engine (such as any theme’s default one), about 15% of searches end up in a frustrating “No results found”.


So if your Shopify store’s internal search engine is the same that came along with the template, you might be losing some of your best customers…

But don’t worry about it because we’re about to explain how to avoid this.

In this post, you’ll learn many tips to tune up your eCommerce search results on Shopify and make the best of your internal search engine.

In addition, at the end of this post you’ll learn how you can use the internal search engine to boost your sales between 10% and 20%.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; let’s see the guide first.

👉 Let’s begin in the beginning: how Shopify’s internal search works

We have mentioned that a large majority of search engines do not meet users’ expectations, but why exactly does this happen?

Before we explain this, you must first understand how the internal search engine of any Shopify theme works.

Largely speaking, the search engine allows you to filter products by:

  • Product title and description.
  • Tags.
  • Product code.
  • Product type.
  • Vendor.

It also includes specific features to search blog entries (by title, content, category or author).

✅ So what does that imply? Some limitations to Shopify’s default theme

Even if they’re no apparent at first sight, these search features have many limitations:

For example:

We have a product called “power saw” by Sterwins —the brand—, reference number 822459, and with a “power saws” tag.

The next searches would show that product:

  • Power saw.
  • Sterwins.
  • 822459.
  • Power saws.

However, any of these search terms would get you a “No results found” page.

  • Typing “electric saw” or any other synonym.
  • Typing “powr saw” instead of “power saw.”
  • Typing 82245, without the last digit.
  • Typing “Sterwin” instead of “Sterwins.”

This happens because names or numbers don’t match exactly the information we have on the product card, whether that is because of a typo or because the user has typed a synonym.

As a result, the search engine fails to relate the word we’ve typed with the relevant product, and does not display it for us.

Such a silly mistake can actually make you lose many sales (remember what we mentioned above; 15% of searches fail to show any results).

So let’s see how you can get rid of such limitations.

👉 4+1 ideas to optimize internal search in your Shopify Store

Even though the internal search engine varies depending on the Shopify theme, you shouldn’t find it difficult to apply most of the tips we’re about to give you.

Are you ready?

Well, make sure you write this down.

✅ 1. Refine product descriptions

As we mentioned above, the search engine also “reads” the descriptions on product cards.

This is why you should really use this text to include every possible synonym.

Even if the product title is “power saw”, if you include “electric saw” in the description, the search engine will detect it and will show the user the product they are looking for. 

Of course, try to include synonyms naturally (it shouldn’t look like it was written by a machine) or you could end up affecting user experience.

✅ 2. Use tags to include synonyms and typos

In addition to product descriptions, we should think of tags as an alternative to  add:

  • Synonyms: go ahead and include the synonyms you did not include in the product description.
  • Typos: think of the most common mistakes your customers could make and include them as tags.

Users can’t see those tags, so they are a really interesting solution.

Of course, there are also some inconveniences:

  • You might end up with a list of thousands of tags: including the hassle it implies organizing them.
  • Not knowing what the most common typos are: it’s not always easy to guess the mistakes users make when typing. For instance, imagine the amount of typos there can be for “smartphone” alone: “smarphone”, “smarpthone”, “smarphon”… 

Tags can be a good solution for a small store, but in an eCommerce with thousands of products, tags can become overwhelming.

✅ 3. Modify the search settings of your Shopify theme

We’ve already seen two really interesting tips for tuning up search results a little bit.

But we can still go beyond.

As we said before, Shopify’s search engine finds matches both for products and blog entries.

This can affect user experience, especially when we have an eCommerce with many products (and many blog entries).

Imagine a user searching “nail polish” and getting mixed results of products and reviews you have published in the blog.

Clearly, this is not the best option.

One way to avoid this is by setting up the search features so the search engine only lists product cards and category pages.

To do that, go on Shopify:

Sales Channels > Online Store > Themes > Customize theme > General settings tab > Search.

✅ 4. Clarify to the user the search terms they can use

What do we mean by specifying search terms?


improve shopify search

In other words, indicating in the search bar text (the placeholder) the kind of terms they can use.

If, for example, you have an online bookstore such as the one in the image, it’s important that your customers know they can search not only by title or author of the book, but even by ISBN.

Or in case you own a clothing store, you could allow them to search by size, product type, etc.

It looks like something very simple (and it is), but these small details can serve as a guide for some users, which will make them leave your store satisfied with their experience.

You can set this feature up in the “General” tab of your Shopify theme.

✅ Bonus: keep the search engine always in sight

Right now your search engine works well and offers relevant results.

But imagine a user lands on your homepage, scrolls down until the end and —not being able to find the product they’re interested in— they decide to do a search. They will have to scroll all the way up again to get to the search bar.

Even if it sounds silly, the fact that the user has to scroll all the way up to do a search hinders the purchase process.

How do we fix this?

Easy: by making the search bar always be on the screen.

This can be done in two ways:

  • With a fixed or “sticky” browsing menu: the whole browsing menu (search bar included) remains locked in the upper part of the screen as you scroll down or up.
  • With a floating icon: in this case, the search engine is always present in a corner of the page as an isolated icon from the rest of the elements.

Here’s an example of it:

If you go on this store, you’ll find an example of a fixed browsing menu.

internal search for shopify

So now, how do we set these features up?

Truth be told, doing it manually is difficult, and it would require modifying the source code of the page. We recommend you choose a theme that comes with one (or both) of these two features.

👉 You’ve now seen what you can do with a basic search engine, but… what about an advanced one?

We’ve shown you all the different options you have to optimize Shopify’s default search engine.

But the truth is that, even if you manage to work out some of its limitations, that’s nothing but paper over the cracks. They make the problem look good, but they don’t fix it at all. 

In order to offer your customers the best possible experience, you need to take it up one notch.

You need an advanced search engine (or as we like to say, a “smart” one).

One that:

  • Shows personalized results: it gives the user exactly what they need, based on previously searched, seen or bought products. All this thanks to artificial intelligence.
  • Understands synonyms and typos: no need for tags or including synonyms in product cards. Besides, the search engine itself learns what the most common typos made by users are and acknowledges them for you.
  • Includes autocomplete: thanks to this feature, the search engine is capable of anticipating the user’s wishes and makes the purchase process more efficient.
  • Offers search filters: it’s important to offer the user search filters that allow them to narrow down their search, especially in eCommerces with a large amount of products.
  • Allows searching in different “modalities”: for example, through voice search or even uploading an image.

For you to get an idea, customers who use Doofinder (a smart search engine that includes all these features) have increased their sales between 10% and 20% after downloading it.

And that’s quite something. 😉

👉 Are you ready to take the internal search engine of your Shopify store to the next level?

Yes, we know.

All this sounds wonderful, but what you need is to see it for yourself.

Well, said and done.

>> By clicking here, you’ll be able to try Doofinder for 30 days in your Shopify store and improve yout shopify search.

No need to insert your banking information or to modify code. You download it, install it as any other Shopify app, and see the extent to which it modifies search experience in your store.

You’ll see your customers (and your billing) thanking you for it.

Also if your goal is to improve your online store, here is an article on how to optimize shopify