Let’s face it—when people are having a website built or redesigned, search is often an afterthought. It may appear in the form of a small magnifying glass at the top of the page without much consideration beyond that. It’s often not a priority, and as a result, search winds up being forgotten, avoided, or done haphazardly.
The tides are changing though.
Today, users’ expectations when it comes to search are way higher. They expect nothing short of fast, relevant, and curated results. The costs are too high, both to a user's discovery experience and your own business's objectives, to do only the bare minimum with your website's search.
Powerful search and discovery experiences drive user engagement, help meet business objectives, and provide critical insights that further your organization’s goals.
In this post we’re going to talk about why businesses should consider their website’s search now more than ever, how it works, and why the investment is worth it.
The baseline of user expectation is rising.
Internet users have high expectations stemming from lightning-fast as-you-type results from search engines like Amazon and Google. Customers want ease when searching for products or services, and when they aren’t given a fast, user-friendly experience, they may take their business somewhere else.
According to Algolia, a hosted search API platform, the human eye blinks within 400 milliseconds; results should appear in less than 100, if not 50, milliseconds. Yes, you read that right—results should appear faster than you can blink.
So why should we cater to these rising expectations? Why is keeping users happy so important? Consider the constant flow of information and the demand to make decisions. It’s both time-consuming and energy-depleting, especially when you can’t find what you need quickly and efficiently. If users can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll go somewhere else where they can. Once users are able to find what they’re looking for—or even better, what they didn’t even know they were looking for—they’ll stick around.
According to Forrester Research, 43% of site visitors click on search boxes immediately. Salesforce shares that customers who utilize search on e-commerce sites spend 2.6 times more than customers who do not use search. And, according to KISSMetrics, 12% of users will simply go to a competitor’s site if they’ve experienced an unsuccessful search. This business, or lack thereof, adds up over time.
Omni-channel interactions, whether through traditional digital storefronts or a mobile device, are impacted by search. If you have a product heavy website or you have a large amount of content, search is a must-have feature on your site, especially with the increase in user engagement via smaller screen devices. A positive search experience could be the make or break that determines whether or not your user will be converted into a customer.
Conversions, an organization’s key to success and sustainability, can come in many forms. Depending on how an organization defines their own set of objectives and unique goals, these conversions can come in the form of membership signups, donations, or profit.
The average revenue that comes from site searchers can be remarkably higher than that of regular users, but only 15% of companies actually have resources allocated for optimizing their search, and only 7% of these companies are actually learning from their user search data to drive further action.
What does all of this suggest? Putting more resources towards a good search experience won’t just help you to keep up with the likes of Google and Amazon. It will also set your products and content apart from other businesses that continue to put their search on the backburner. So when everyone else starts to step up their search game, you won’t be last in line.
In this article, further steps are suggested to improve your search and increase your revenue, like searching with autocomplete, allowing users to filter results, and offering relevant recommendations to users.
Overall, improving your search means giving your users more control over their results. As customers can find exactly what they need quickly and easily, conversions and revenue will increase.
Search holds far less value when it can’t provide much insight, so perhaps that’s why historical iterations of search that lacked additional useful functionality failed to catch on. Today, dynamic site search solutions have evolved to become more than just a navigation box. As the complexities of building a good search experience increase, so do businesses’ abilities to analyze data and have greater insight for future decision-making.
Search systems today offer a wide variety of tools that help businesses analyze, adjust, and help users find what they need. For a great search experience, we need to prioritize what the user is actually looking for over what a business wants them to find.
One tool that offers such insight is search analytics. Regardless of how an individual or business decides to use data, the overarching goal of search analytics is to ensure that your search experience is data-driven.
Since data can be captured with every search, the sheer volume of data collected can help you to think more objectively about how to improve your users’ search experience. Analytics will help you monitor and make adjustments based on search behavior.
Speaking of a users’ search behavior, it reveals more than just what they’re looking for in a particular moment. Rather, it reveals trends in a user’s intent.
Are your products described accurately and represented well? Are the correct products showing up in a user’s search results? Do you have way too much of one product and not enough of another? Your business might not have a clue how to answer these questions with confidence if there is no data to back them up. Search offers all the back up you’re looking for.
Search has transformed into more than a box. It’s an integral part of the puzzle that goes towards building effective websites and successful applications.
As search continues to evolve and become more important to the success of digital experiences, we’ve continued to invest time and resources towards being able to provide first-class search experiences for our clients. We’ve designed and developed tailored search implementations for clients including Pearson ERPI, the American Galvanizers Association, the Neurosurgical Atlas, and more.
Our expertise with specific technologies, including Algolia and Elasticsearch, allow us to build search systems that scale to our clients’ needs. And having worked with many different organizations, we can help gauge which features a business will need based on its size, budget, products, services, and goals.
At the end of the day, we are committed to delivering thoughtful, progressive, and powerful technology solutions for the people we work with. Building high-quality search experiences is one of the ways in which we can do just that.
How can search help your business grow?