How much do you spend per year on SEO, advertising or generating content? Surely a lot. You just want a lot of potential customers to come to your store.
But what happens when in spite of spending so much money they are just that, POTENTIAL customers?
If users land on your e-commerce and they get lost or do not find what they’re looking for in 2 clicks… they give up.
You’ve lost them, as well as the money you have invested in getting them to come to you.
That’s why we at Doofinder have created this guide about how to use a Site search engine to get all those potential customers buying from your online store and not from the competitors.
Although it may not seem like it now, the use of a good internal search engine for your e-commerce is one of the main levers to boost the conversion of your business.
Let’s see how.
MY WEBSITE ALREADY HAS A SEARCH ENGINE… IS IT WORTH INTEGRATING AN ADVANCED SEARCH?
The default Site search engine of any e-commerce is very limited.
Try to look for products without the exact name, with spelling mistakes, by synonyms… On many occasions the results will not be relevant (if they are shown at all), obtaining hundreds of results will be slow and in general the user experience, negative…
The result? One less customer. When we talk about a search engine, we mean a professional search engine. So, let’s ask again. “Is it worth using an ADVANCED… search engine? The answer is “yes”. Because a smart Site search is the closest thing to having an assistant in your store.
But let’s look at it in figures*:
An average of 15% of visitors to an e-commerce site use the internal search engine to find a particular product or category. In some cases, this figure is close to 30% – 40%.
Among the websites that have implemented the Doofinder search engine, the conversion has increased between 10% and 20%.
* This data comes from the performance statistics of customers who have used Doofinder.
Boost your sales with an Advanced Site Search Engine
Without an advanced search engine you run the risk that many of your potential customers will leave your website because they were unable to find the product they wanted.
And keep in mind the following, these users have a conversion potential 4 times higher than other visits to your online store.
That hurts. 🙁
But instead of worrying about what you might lose, let’s think about what you might gain. Let’s make a case.
Let’s assume that your e-commerce generates a gross monthly income of € 10,000 with these figures:
If you maintain that volume of monthly visits, but get the conversion up to 20%, we’d be talking about 240 sales a month.
That’s a €2,000 increase in your gross monthly income.
But there’s more.
When visitors search for something and then buy, they usually spend more money. In the case of our customers, we have seen their average checkout rise by about 10% when they implement the search engine.
And all of that without spending more money to get new customers.
It sounds good, doesn’t it? 😉
DID YOU KNOW THAT?
According to a study by BigCommerce, 34% of site search engines do not meet user expectations, because…
It is not able to understand terms with typing errors (for example, if instead of “Coat”, a user searches for “Cota”). 70% do not have the capacity to work with synonyms. .
Mobile search constitutes between 45% and 65% of the visits of an e-commerce, but most of the basic search engines do not have a responsive design.
A tool that does understand and serve your customers
Surely now you’re thinking something like: “it all sounds very nice, but I don’t believe that a search engine can be that good”.
Of course, it’s just a secondary tool for you, right? 😉
Relax, because right now we are going to explain why we say that with an advanced search engine for e-commerce you will increase your sales.
Your customers have very little patience.
If after one or two searches they still haven’t found the product they want, they will leave without saying goodbye. You may think that’s not a big deal and your search engine works just as well as all your competitors’ online stores.
Sure, but that’s not the problem.
You’re competing with Google. 😉
We are so well accustomed to Google that we expect the same from any search engine.
Be careful, because if it’s not like that… customers will go to another store where they are faster and better served.
Have you ever considered including a new product in your catalogue, but you are afraid of making a mistake?
It’s normal, investing is always a risk, and no one is sure if it will go well.
Or can a person be sure?
Imagine if you could know…
… what are the top 100 products users are looking for in your e-commerce.
… what are the most common searches in your store.
… to be able to see the internal searches of your store in real time.
… with what searches get you more conversions.
… what products they are looking for that you do not have.
… what searches offer less relevant results.
… what searches have more conversion.
Think of the deductions you could make with that data.
What are the top 100 products users are looking for in your e-commerce?
What products are they looking for that you don’t have?
Imagine that one of these searches is repeated very often.
For instance, say you have an e-commerce of refurbished mobiles and there are many users looking for tablets.
Maybe you hadn’t thought about it until then, but putting second-hand tablets in your catalogue might be a good idea.
Of course, you know you’re going to have plenty of interested people.
And on the contrary, you could suggest related products that could be interesting for this type of search, for example show the smartphones with the biggest screens
But now you’re going to say, “yes, all right, but where do I get all this information from?
A tool like Doofinder has a control panel that shows you all this information in a very friendly way.
An advanced search engine is like having a marketing consultant that runs a market research for you. And watch out, a study about your real customers.
Not only could you open new product lines with less risk, but it also allows you to increase sales and the average checkout.
A site search engine can be your best marketing consultant, but also a hyper-efficient manager of your stock.
Just remember that with it you can know:
For example, let’s make a case.
You have a store that sells cosmetic products, and one of your distributors is doing a very powerful marketing campaign.
However, thanks to the search engine registration you see that more and more users are looking for that brand.
The next step is clear, isn’t it?
Run and place a good purchase order, you’ll need it soon. 😉
The other option you would have, in the short term, is to make a selection of alternative products or brands to display in the online store, this is much better than showing 0 results.
And the best part, it will take 5 minutes to set it up, and without having to touch a single line of code on your website.
What does a site search engine have to do with the SEO of your website?
Much more than you can imagine.
When we talk about SEO, you surely think of keywords and visits, but there is another very important factor you may be forgetting about: the bounce rate.
The bounce rate measures the percentage of visits that come to your website from Google and leave without having browsed it or taken any action.
This is a very important metric to consider, because a high bounce rate tells Google that your website is not providing useful results for the user.
And you know what usually makes a customer bounce off your site?
A giant menu full of categories and subcategories that looks more like a huge encyclopedia than anything else. That’s why you need an advanced search engine. We told you before, customers are not patient, and when they want something, they want it now. If not, they leave and your bounce rate goes up. 🙁
By contrast, when you install a search engine like Doofinder:
The bounce rate on our users’ internal searches has dropped by about 90%.
In other words, 90% more users found what they wanted the first time around.
In addition, the data provided by the search engine can help you generate high-conversion content, as it will give you ideas for creating high-conversion long tail content.
An advanced search engine incorporates technology that helps you show more relevant results.
Thanks to this technology and the NLP (natural language processing), it can adapt the results displayed according to the specific search made by the user.
This is because the search engine is able to understand in a much more exact way what the customer wants, so it can also offer related suggestions
We refer to the autocomplete function of the search engine: those search suggestions that appear magically as soon as you enter a few letters.
You may have seen them many times on Google, Amazon or YouTube.
In case you don’t know what we mean, check out this example from Big Basket.
But solutions like Doofinder go a step further, because they incorporate Artificial Intelligence solutions (Machine Learning) that offer totally personalized results adapted to the needs of each user.
This allows you to know what customers want, (almost) before they type it in the search box.
How is this possible?
This technology analyzes user behavior at a very high level.
It examines the browsing history, the sales, how the mouse works, and even the eye tracking, to offer better and more personalized suggestions.
We’ll explain it with an example:
On the one hand, there’s Sam, who has a wedding in a month and is looking for a suit. And on the other hand there’s Emma, who just joined the gym for boxing.
They both go into the same store.
👨🏽💼 Sam buys a jacket that combines perfectly with another pair of trousers he already has.
👱🏼♀️ Emma buys some boxing shorts.
Two days later, both of them receive their packages at home, and in both cases there is a 10% discount coupon.
The two of them go back into the store and look for gloves.
What happens then?
Doofinder’s artificial intelligence system analyzes Sam and Emma’s sales history, their browsing history and their latest searches, so:
“It seems like the search engine reads my mind” they both think as they push the buy button. 😉
But does a customer find this important?
You figure it out yourself:
It saves time: customers write a couple of words and… bingo! They have already found the product they wanted. And they didn’t even have to finish the search. Faster than that, impossible.
It offers new ideas: a user comes to your store looking for winter boots. But when entering the word “boots”, this person discovers there is a specific range for rainy days.. And that’s exactly what this customer was most concerned about.
But why confine yourself to show only category names? Why don’t you include specific products in the autocomplete results?
It has been shown that when these results are accompanied by a small image of the product, the conversion can be as much as three times higher.
Three times as many clicks just to get a picture in.
Not bad. 😉
Your eCommerce Search might be a little bit exquisite.
If the search term your customer uses doesn’t match, letter by letter, with the name of the product, all they’ll see is the bloody “No Results” message.
The customer writes ” Samsun movile”.And your search engine says there’s nothing of it when you have 50,000 amazing smartphones of that brand ready to be sold.
This could drive anyone crazy, right?
That’s why we tell you that a search engine is the closest thing to having a real shop assistant in your online store.
And that’s because:
It doesn’t matter if it is written:
Yanpol GotieJan pol clasicoGotier
Your search engine will understand that you are looking for a Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume and will refer you in a second to the product sheet you want.
Because a smart search engine allows you to adapt your searches no matter how they are written.
It gets complicated here.
We are no longer talking about a typo, but the customer is using a completely different term from how you have categorized it.
We could give you a thousand examples.
But what matters is that your potential customer who wants to buy a “fridge” will go to the competitors because you “only” sell refrigerators.
And watch out, because not only do you lose sales, but the user experience with your website in general gets worse.
Customers want you to make it easy for them, if you don’t understand what they’re asking for in the first place… too bad.
DID YOU KNOW THAT?
Only 30% of internal search engines are able to understand synonyms …and Doofinder is one of them.
Let’s start with an important piece of information.
Between 45% and 65% of e-commerce searches are performed with a mobile phone.
Of course, your store has a responsive version (and if not, you’re too late).
Have you ever noticed if your default search engine works well on a smartphone?
It’s quite possible that it doesn’t.
We’ll let you know what happens then:
After two seconds the customer has thrown in the towel and left.
Now we repeat the data: between 45% and 65% of searches in e-commerce are performed with a mobile phone.
With your website’s default search engine you could be losing up to half of those customers.
Are you really willing to take that risk?
And it’s not about adapting in any way, Doofinder does it by offering a demanding search experience…Ah! and keep in mind the following.
Doofinder allows to use voice search on mobile devices
All e-commerce has some ugly ducklings.
Those products that have been gathering dust in your warehouse for months and you can’t get rid of.
They can be:
And what could be done?
Thanks to using a professional search engine you can:
In searches by product category (and not model), show among the first results those less known items. Or also, show a banner with an offer.
In searches by model, you can show the exact model before, but you can show an attractive offer for the previous model. You will surely make them reconsider their purchase.
You can also do this to highlight products that give you a higher profit margin. In conclusion, it’s all about using the search engine to help you sell what interests you most at any time.
As you can see, with a good site search you can modify the order of appearance of the products and decide which ones are shown first.
If you think about it, this is the strategy that has always been followed in physical stores: when you want to sell a particular product, you place it in a very visible place, such as the shop window or on the closest shelf to the door.
You just have to put a little bit of order in your shop window.
Surely you have more than one super distracted customer.
Even if you bother them with a lot of mails, even if you announce it in full color in your slider, it doesn’t matter: this customer never finds out about that great promotion you just launched.
But, of course, we never give up. 😉
One way to solve this is to show that promotion in the search results.
If it is a very powerful promotion you can show it in all the searches, but you also have the option to customize the offers shown according to their search.
This increases conversion and improves the user experience.
And do you know the best part?
The search engine tells you with which searches you have more conversions, so you can run different a/b tests to increase sales.
“OK, Google. Where’s a pizzeria near me?”
Surely you’re familiar with this phrase, right?
You may even have said something similar to your mobile phone more than once.
Be careful, because this trend is here to stay (and it also directly affects SEO).
At the moment, most of us just do it to ask Google, Siri or Alexa where we can have dinner tonight, but voice shopping is going to be more and more common.
Look at this data:
Data from Think With Google reveal that 27% of global users use voice search when browsing on their smartphones.
According to the Voice Shopping Study 2019, It is estimated that by 2024, the smart speakers market will be worth over 30,000 million dollars...
We decided to get ahead, and that’s why we included voice search among Doofinder’s features.
This way it’s suitable even for those with lazy thumbs. 😉
This is all very well, but what about the installation?
If you decide to start using an advanced search engine:
Just because it has more features doesn’t mean it’s more complicated to install or use.
On the contrary: Doofinder has official plugins, addons and extensions for all major e-commerce platforms. Magento, Prestashop, Shopify, WooCommerce, here you can see the complete list. Do you have a customized platform? No problem, with a product feed and inserting a script will be enough.
And if you have any questions, our technical service colleagues (who are very nice), will have no problem helping you.
YOUR BEST ALLY TO TURN YOUR VISITORS INTO SATISFIED CUSTOMERS
As you have seen, a good search engine can turn into your best ally for turning visitors into satisfied customers.
Thanks to it:
But there’s more to it.
There are even more ways to improve user experience and provide the user with more relevant results. That way, your internal search engine will further assist the customer and this will show in conversion.
So how do we do it?
At Doofinder we have been analyzing how the internal search engine works and how customers use it for many years, so we are very clear about what works and what doesn’t.
That’s why we’re about to give you some tips to make the most of:
Write down these good practices and let’s jump-start your sales. 😉
For your online store’s search engine to unleash its full potential, customers have to be able to find it first.
No kidding, it’s not the first time we’ve seen it in a footer.
So in order to make your search bar visible and user-friendly, check out the advice below.
When you get to a website and wanna search for something, where do your eyes go?
In all likelihood, to the top right corner of the page.
That’s the most common position to place a search engine.
This is the most common place to position a search bar, so it’s also the place any user will see first.
Primark, for instance, has chosen this position for their search bar.
Now, that’s not the only option you’ve got.
Although another valid option, increasingly common among large e-commerce, is to put it in the center of the header. The clearest example of this is Amazon.
What’s more, other stores choose to position it on the left, the way Harvard Book Store have —even if this option is less common.
On the left, at the center, on the right… your choice.
The most important thing, in any case, is to always have it on the upper part of the screen.
Have you noticed what the search bars we just showed you before have in common?
They all had a magnifying-glass icon.
Even if including it is not mandatory, that icon “stands out” and helps the user find the search bar more easily.
Are you taking notes? Let’s keep moving.
Apart from being in a familiar place, it must stand out.
The search engine should be one of the first things your users see when they arrive at your website. So as to do this, you can use the colors of the button or the edge of the box.
For example, see how AliExpress highlights its search bar adding an orange frame to it.
They have also placed the magnifying-glass icon on an orange background to make it stand out even more.
You can also include a call to action to persuade the user to go on the search bar.
When they land on your page, not all of your users have a product or specific model in mind.
Instead, some prefer to run their searches by:
That’s why it’s important for you to inform the user about the different search terms they can use.
Using a placeholder is standard practice for it.
We’re talking about the default text on the search bar that’s immediately deleted as soon as the user clicks on it.
For example, the placeholder on Book Depository’s search bar tells us we can search by “keyword / title / author / ISBN”.
Many e-commerce sites make the mistake of placing the search engine only on the home page.
As if once the user has reached a product page, they no longer need it.
The ideal thing is for the user to always have the search bar at hand, no matter where they land.
Think about it.
Imagine you’ve searched on Google “trekking pants” and —accidentally— you have clicked on a store’s category page.
You then click on a couple of cards, read the descriptions and end up choosing a specific model.
Right then, you remember you also need trekking shoes.
So what do you do now?
Do you go to the homepage to use the search bar?
Do you browse all over the menu trying to spot the “trekking shoes” category?
Yes, both options are valid. But the ideal thing would be for the user to have the possibility of running a search without leaving the product card or category they’re in.
That’s why the search box must be on every page of your website.
That also includes error page 404.
Let’s look at an example from Mountain Warehouse. When you come across a broken link, the store suggests running another search for you to keep on browsing.
There’s only one exception to this standard: the checkout page.
In this page, it’s critical to make the user complete their purchase. For that purpose, we must take out any element that might be a distraction (and that might make him abandon their cart).
In fact, it’s common practice to hide the browsing menu on the checkout page.
Let’s suppose you have a very large catalogue and many product categories with tens or hundreds of cards.
Your customer scrolls down for a while on a category page, checking every card but not finding the specific product they’re interested in. So they decide to use the search bar.
And right when they’re about to scroll all the way up to the upper part of the page…
They notice that the menu, alongside the internal search engine, has been with them the whole time. So, instead of scrolling up, they just have to move the mouse and click on the magnifying-glass icon.
This small detail favors user experience and saves your customer some time.
There are 2 main ways of doing this:
Both of these options are very interesting in order to facilitate browsing on your store (especially, if you have a large catalogue).
With Doofinder, it is also possible to change the search layer at will. In other words, you can modify the way in which search results are shown.
Here are a couple of examples for you to better understand it.
In Luna Baby Store’s case results occupy the entire page. This way, there’s plenty of space to include search filters and add larger product images.
On the other hand, Taunton’s store browsing interface expands from left to right on the page, but leaves the browsing menu in sight.
Which one is more appropriate?
As you can imagine, there isn’t a better option; it all depends on what’s more comfortable for your customers.
And that’s exactly what the next section is about.
Just because your search engine works well with a predefined color or text doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
A good way of implementing these changes is through A/B tests.
For example, you first place the search bar at the center of the page, leave it there for a while and end up collecting data. You then move it to the top right corner and leave it there for the same period of time.
Once you’re done testing, you will only have to check analytics and verify whether conversion changes due to position changes.
In order to know more about A/B tests and how to apply them, here’s this guide we’ve published on our blog.
See how Amazon , the largest store in the world, applies these points in its search engine (one of its most powerful sales tools):
With only a glance, we can observe how:
And the most important thing is you don’t need to have the budget of an Amazon-like store to make all this happen.
Doofinder’s smart search engine allows you to set up every feature we’ve mentioned.
Even the world’s most feature-rich search engine won’t do you any good if using it is a hassle.
In order to get your conversions up, it’s important that you pay attention to usability.
At the very least, it should comply with these two points:
if a responsive design is necessary throughout your website, with the search engine its importance is double.
The box must be adapted to all screens so that smartphone users can use it comfortably.
For example, this is how Mountain Warehouse does it.
Just by landing on their homepage, we notice the search bar has been compacted and you can only see the magnifying-glass icon.
But when you click on that icon, the search bar expands across the entire upper section of the screen so that the user finds it easier to type the search term.
the small search bars are a nuisance.
The characters get lost and it’s hard to tell if we’ve entered the search term correctly.
The ideal space is around 30 characters. This way, the text won’t look cropped if the search term is long.
For example, see how long Mango’s fashion eCommerce’s is.
Surely you’re proud of how big your online store’s product catalogue is. But do your customers see it the same way?
Think about it.
You arrive at a store looking for some simple jeans.
But when you ask a shop assistant, you are overwhelmed with an infinite number of models: straight, skinny, loose, with holes, without holes, darker, lighter… What madness!
Remember: more is not always better.
The most important thing is that, once they arrive at your store, customers are able to quickly find what they want.
And to do so, filters are very useful.
The idea is, for each product category, you use the filters that will help your users the most (the search engine register will show you).
For you to have an idea, you could include
The list is as extensive as you can think of, and it will depend a lot on the products you sell.
The best part? With a professional search engine, these filters can be applied directly before customers search for products they want.
It couldn’t be more comfortable.
For you to have an idea, here we explain in depth how Doofinder filters work.
It’s important that your search engine can offer users relevant results for different search terms, including:
Here’s an example.
But… what about searches that are not typed out?
>> Special searches
We mentioned above that users are increasingly shopping from their smartphones.
Because of that, many have grown used to using voice searches.
But there’s more.
Visual searches are another type of non-conventional search that has grown popular —those in which a user uses an image as a reference point.
Check this example out:
When is this type of search useful?
Imagine a user has seen an online picture of a piece of furniture that has caught his attention, but doesn’t know its name.
If your search engine allows you to run image searches, then problem solved; they just have to download the picture, upload it to the search bar to see every product on your catalogue that is visually similar.
The worst message a user (or you) can come across when doing a search is: “No results found.”
This sometimes happens because the customer has made a typo (and your search engine doesn’t know how to handle it)… and some other times you may not have the product on your catalogue.
But, does that mean your customer gets no alternatives?
Not at all.
What you have to do is show similar products to the one they were looking for.
Because if they wanted Adidas swimsuits but you’ve run out, they might be interested in buying a Reebok one, right?
And don’t just stop there.
You can also show them the different categories in your store or even introduce products on sale and best-sellers.
The important thing is not to stay at the typical “No results found” page and provide the user with a path for them to keep on browsing (and, especially, to end up buying).
Here’s an example of how filters work with Doofinder.
Once the user types the last search term on the search bar and hits Enter, your quest is to make it as easy as possible for them to find what they are looking for.
As it turns out, no-result pages can sometimes be chaotic. Especially if your catalogue has well over hundreds or thousands of products.
So let’s see how we can make this page as user-friendly as possible.
The first thing is to decide how we’ll organize the products on a no-results page.
There are two choices:
The first option is interesting for an eCommerce with a medium-size catalogue while infinite scroll is the go-to option for stores with thousands of products.
If you want to learn more about this subject, have a look at this article on pagination strategies for eCommerces.
A user looks up “books on finances” on your eCommerce and clicks on one of the results they get.
They read the product card, but before they buy one they’d rather see what other books you have in the same category.
How can they do this?
The most user-friendly thing is to include breadcrumbs in the product card.
In other words, a small menu that allows going back to the category page such card belongs to, such as in the example below:
Statistics that an advanced search engine like Doofinder can offer you are the basis for building your internal search strategy.
With Doofinder you will be able to see, among other data:
With these facts plus what we have explained in this post, you have plenty of material to increase your store’s conversions. 😉
One last piece of advice if you want your search engine to keep on converting more and more.
As you’ve seen, search trends change over time. In order to stay competitive and offer your customers the best purchase experience possible, your search engine has to adapt to these changes.
For example, in Doofinder:
Definitely, we’re all about relying on a search engine that grows and evolves next to you.
Would you like to have a look behind the scenes and find out the new features we’re developing at Doofinder?
Here are some clues:
Are you prepared to implement intelligent searches in your store and increase your sales?
Then we only have one thing left to tell you about.
Do you know what’s missing now?
You can use it to see with your own eyes how that data is real and how it will increase your invoicing thanks to using Doofinder.
That’s why we want you to try it for 30 days free of charge (we won’t ask you for your card details either).
If during this time your conversions haven’t improved, it’s okay. You keep the free version and that’s it.
Just try it.