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Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Site Search Part 1: Learn From Your Customers

By Ryan Moxness
January 2nd, 2012

Treasure MapIn this two part post, you will begin to understand why your prospects use site search, how to track what they are searching for, and what your new found information can do for you. In part one of this two part series, you will get an idea of what kind of visitors are utilizing your site search box, and how the words they type into that little rectangular box can make you money.

With the wealth of information on websites it is sometimes difficult for visitors to find exactly what they came to your site for. Having the most user friendly navigation on your site is the most important thing you can do to help your customers find what they need.  In the case that your navigation just doesn’t speak to certain types of visitors, providing a tool such as “Internal Site Search” will give your visitors a quick easy access to the products and services they are looking for. It is already difficult for your visitors to determine whether or not a website will contain the information they need.  It is a whole separate obstacle for them to find it on your site once they land.  Site search offers several solutions that can prove to be very cost effective for your business.

Visitors with the “I Want it Now” Attitude are Satisfied

Once you’ve installed a site search box visitors who know what they came for can find what they need instantly. These types of visitors are the same ones that get impatient when they can’t find the information they are looking for on their first or second page view. Navigational structures of some websites can also be confusing for many visitors. Having Site Search installed will let your visitors completely bypass many of your pages where they might become lost. When your site search box stands out effectively, your visitors will find it and use it instead of bouncing from your site.

“Searcher” Type of Visitors Feel Right at Home

Visitors who are accustomed to using search engines such as Google can relate to Site Search on a website as they recognize it as a comfortable way to find information. They are more than likely to prefer searching on the site rather than navigating through page to page to find what they are looking for.

Site Search Arms Marketers with Data

You can benefit tremendously from having an internal site search function. Internal site search can provide a wealth of information about how visitors navigate your site.

By knowing the keywords your visitors are searching for on your site, you get a better understanding of their desires, intent, and behavior. The data can reveal exactly what information they searched for and what landing pages kept them captivated to continue reading. Of course,  you will also know those keywords and landing pages that prompted them to leave your site. If you spend time finessing this data, you will glean insights into the minds of your prospects.   Now, you can look forward to improving the overall conversion of your E-commerce website.

Site Search Can Give You New Ideas

Knowing what search terms your visitors are using can give you new ideas. If you see that many visitors are searching your site for a specific type of product that you don’t provide, it may be time to consider offering this product to serve their needs. When your site is already bringing in traffic for a product that can easily be added, you have an opprotunity to imporove the ROI of your business.

Site Search Helps with Missed Keywords

It can be difficult to identify with your customers and imagine what keywords they might use. Site search allows you some knowledge about what guests are searching for on your site.  You can look at what keywords your visitors use in your site search boxes and tweak your content for SEO purposes. Site Search keywords can be added to your search marketing campaigns, offering a chance to reach a wider and more qualified audience on the Internet than originally anticipated.

In order for your company to remain competitive online, you need to be open to the new ways people are finding and sharing  information. Site search is a fantastic utility for companies looking to evolve their website according to customer demand.

Just placing a search box on your site isn’t enough.  You will have to make sure results are  both helpful to the user and that creating maximum conversions for you.  How do you know if your visitors are receiving the optimal results?  Data of course!  You can read the second post of this series next week to be sure you are tracking that data correctly.  It can be difficult to optimize the site search process, so if you need any help we here at FutureNow and our OnTarget program are here to help you convert your site searchers  into customers and leads.

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Comments (114)

  1. An interesting article on the importance of using a site search box. Seeing what people are actually searching for once they have arrived on your website is useful to work alongside Google Analytics which shows the search terms and location for visitors that have got as far as your homepage.

  2. Is there any SEO benefit for a search function? My site doesn’t have many pages but I this article makes me want to try one out just to see what happens.

  3. this is good, at least owners will be able to follow his/her sites activity…is this for free?

  4. This post was amazing. I will start to work now in a report to check what users are seaching on the website. Thank you very much

  5. A very interesting post. Thank you Ryan!

  6. I agree with u that a search box is definetly a plus on a e-commerce site, i would display best sellers on this page too!

  7. You can improve your SEO be seeing what keywords people are searching for on your site.

  8. Such great info. Sometimes I spend time thinking about marketing so much I forget to take a step back and track what I am already doing.

  9. Looking at what keywords your visitors use is also useful, like you said, because you find out what is their way of thinking. It happened me for a lot of times to see that my visitors use questions in searching – this inspired me to write some F.A.Q articles and I got a lot of visitors from Google (that were searching using questions).

  10. very nice article and informative too.. wud love to share on my blog if u permits… thx a lot

  11. I never thought the search function was useful and nearly never included it, but visitor feedback concurs with your POV

  12. Great article indeed, but I got a question. Is search function really a “must have” for a website? I don’t think that’s true. I don’t use it normally.

  13. Some excellent tips in this post. Tracking site searches isn’t something I’ve thought of before.

  14. It definitely depends on the site. E-commerce sites with loads of products or lead gen sites with a lot of content should have one. For sites with less pages proper navigation should work the best. Good navigation is always paramount over a site search box.

  15. You can always link to our article son your blog!

  16. Customers are really good source of information on what to improve and the best ideas to rely on. That’s why, customer satisfaction and service are vital.

  17. I didn’t know it before, but now i’m clear about site search option which can help me building keywords. Its exactly effective and confidential.

  18. I think that site search is a MUST

  19. Site search is definitely one of the best (behind the scenes) market research tools.

    You can learn about products/services you are missing out on, or what your audience really wants.

    Similar to a survey in some respects, but with no subconsciousness pressure of answering “correctly”.

  20. Excellent idea! I must admit that I have never looked what my visitors are searching after they have landed on a webpage of my site.

  21. I’ve got one website (stock photos) where I get a lot of hits, but most everyone bounces off without even going to the site search box.

    It amazes me that I have exactly what they are looking for, but for some reason they land on the category page and then leave without re-typing in my search box what they had on Google which would have got them the photo they needed.

    Trying to fix the problem with getting my photo posts to show instead of categories when people search on Google.

  22. Sometimes, a poor site search can be worse than no site search. You are setting expectations for a user when you give them a site search. But it can be incredibly frustrating if their search turns out irrelevant content or nothing at all.

  23. Great site..by using a site search box it would help to attract and retain customers.

  24. It’s a shame I overlooked this idea when building my own website, ’cause I myself get irritated when other websites don’t have a site search on them – it’s too annoying and sometimes impossible to look through all the pages!

  25. this is good, at least owners will be able to follow his/her sites activity…

  26. Checking what people are searching for is paramount to the success of your site. By knowing what your readers are interested in, you can angle your writing to include those keywords and increase your traffic. A very simple concept, but not one that everyone abides by.

    Great article!

  27. This is a great idea. I often ask my patients about how they came to find me on the internet. I ask for their search terms, and track them.

    I’d like to see if people are using my site search.

  28. I was surprised when I saw how many people were actually using the search box on my site, just goes to show how important it actually is.

  29. very great article and informative too.. wud love to share on my blog if u permits… thx a lot

  30. Yes site search is best tool for searching products of sites that is good for visitor as well as costumers.

  31. It’s funny, the first thing I did after creating my WordPress site was disable the search feature…I’m going to restore now!

  32. Great point about looking at what visitors are searching to see what needs you’re not already filling. I hadn’t thought of that. Makes me curious to go see what my site’s members are looking for… Thanks

  33. Very helpful information. Thank you for sharing. This will be definitely be on my To Do List!

  34. Nice post with valuable information about site search.It will help both who wants to build a site or already have a site.Thanks for the post.

  35. “Site Search Can Give You New Ideas” I use that all the time to see users are searching for and if that content or info is not available I get an email alert telling me. So I then add the content ASAP it’s the best thing I have ever done.

  36. Great post! Hope to read from you again sometime!

  37. Search box in the site will let me know, what my visitors are search for, which will be helpful in making my site more specific, answering every possible questions in the niche.

  38. I’ve done a few split tests with many of my sites; search box versus none, and my bounce rate drastically improved along with my ranking…has anyone else noticed this?

  39. [...] Product PagesWeihnachten beschert dem Online-Handel volle KassenCRM in 2012: Big Changes in the WindSite Search: Learn From Your CustomersHier finden Sie auch alle früheren Lesetipps der Blog-Autoren. Tweet Newsletter für Shopbetreiber [...]

  40. Recently added a search box on our webpage and have been following what people look for. Too early to tell if this is one of the tell-all adds that will mean that much, but we will see.

  41. Excellent post! It all makes sense and yes a site search is exactly what a website needs. I’m a military wife and I just love getting good info like this. I am bookmarking you!

  42. Good article here. When I built my websites I’ve always removed the search function. I never really saw a need for it and thought it gave it a “cheap, bloggy feel”. But you bring up some good points. I may reconsider it simply for the data gathering aspect.

  43. This is amazing, the lower your bounce rate the better you will do in search engines too. im definatly adding a search box to my site too. Thanks for this great article.

  44. My site visitors have found the search function quite useful. I guess this is true for most sites that have a lot of searchable content.

  45. Great post!

    I always debate on whether or not to include a search bar on new sites I design. This post has given me some insight into which websites merit search bars.

  46. I am going to try it, it is like having a mini google keyword tool in your website to find out what people are really searching for, great tip!

  47. I think this is a great idea for medium volume sites. High volume sites can probably get the same information from their search engine statistics?

  48. In WordPress you already have a good search function.
    There are also plugins available to improve it.

  49. Its funny…I use search all the time but havnt got it on my site!
    Thanks for this article Im off to put it on there now
    Cheers

  50. I was surprised when I saw how many people were actually using the search box on my site, just goes to show how important it actually is.

  51. Sounds like a very interesting tool. Is there a cost associated with the implementation?

  52. Site search is an excellent way to know what your customers are looking for.

  53. If your website is too large, then a visitor might look to find something of his/her interest. It is the search box that gives you better insight what about the interest of your visitors.

  54. To optimize a site you need to do a thorough research to know which term is most searched. Excellent text, it will help many people who want to create a site.

  55. Thanks for sharing this. I always have a bit of a delima deciding which keywords to use on certain blog posts and how many to limit it to. I agree with you though this will cover up those loose ends. Just in case I miss something the site search will allow my users instant access to what they are looking for.

  56. Great post! It’s so true that internal site search can both enhance user experience and provide internet marketers with essential user insight. Google Analystics v5 also provides some awesome, very in depth internal search information.

    Grace

  57. I created a flash site and I did a lot of programming work to implement an internal search engine. The client was very happy.
    I think it’s very important to have one in a site.

  58. Listen to the costumers and give than more that they ask!

    I use facebook insights, google analytics and always make some surveys!

    Also think giving a space in your blog to new authors!

    By the way great post!

  59. Jessica – yes I did. If your ranking imroves basing on ‘wrong’ keyphrases, it may cause bounce rate to jump.

  60. This post was amazing. I will start to work now in a report to check what users are seaching on the website. Thank you very much

  61. A very interesting post. I agree with u. I will start to work now in a report to check what users are seaching on the website. Thank you very much

  62. Thank you for sharing this great website. I just bookmarked it! You’ve shared so much insight and information that is greatly appreciated. I agree with you for (Site Search Can Give You New Ideas)
    Patrick,

  63. @ Carmen

    Google Site Search is Free. There is also a plethora of paid options.

  64. No doubt the search box is very important considering the behavior of the user-depth study of this item may be extremely relevant … waiting for part two of the post

  65. You make a good point about the site search – I’ve had a good look at the results on my own site, and can tailor specific content if I notice people searching for anything I haven’t got an article on. Cheers

  66. I could not believe this information would not already be out there in the world. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  67. I usually disable my internal site search feature I will be applying it back to all my website soon.

  68. Good article!
    I am going to try it, it is like having a mini google keyword tool in your website to find out what people are really searching for, great tip!

  69. Thats a very useful tip, adding the site search box. The problem is most of the time, this search box doesnt provide very relevant results! But if Google search is used with the site search box, it is likely to work better!

    Aside from this, you can also keep a track of where your customers are navigating to on your site, this will give you a clear idea if they find what they were looking for and what confusion they faced if any.

  70. Awesome! This is such a great info. A very interesting! I’m looking forward for the part TWO of this.

  71. Ryan, You have said very strong point about the Site search Box ie it’s usability for the visitors as well as for the marketers. The Visitors find it easy to navigate to their desired content with the help of site search box whereas the marketers get to know about the visitors way of finding the contents and their desired keywords searched in the box. Indeed a Gold weapon i.e. site search Box.

  72. Hi, im newish to web building and seo techniques etc. Do you know of any scripts that i can implement into my web page html? I would find a search tool very useful on my site built in xsitepro2 but would not know where to start! Thanks

  73. This post reminded me of one classification of clients – the relater, the director, and the analytical personality – and each of them requires a different type of attitude when you are trying to sell your products (or idea). The director, if I recollect correcly, is the take-charge type (the best client at first glance). What I wanted to say is that people can be categorized according to their behavior when shopping and hence approached accordingly.

  74. I recently installed the webrank toolbar which while not perfect is doing great things for me while I research sites, pages, links etc, etc…

  75. Very useful information especially for people like us. Because it is very important for us to understand our clients so as to improve our strategies and optimize our sales.

  76. @ Manchester Kitchens

    See our new post to easily install a Google Search Bar on your site! Site Search Part 2!

  77. This is wonderful! I am researching On Target now to see how we can help our social network software clients find what they need fast on our website.

  78. I agree with Jason, a poor site search is worse than no search. Sometimes it is better to organize information by categories, dates, price, etc..

  79. This helpful. This will help me add relevant articles so that users will stay on my site longer. Next stop, Search Part 2.

  80. Your article shows that internal search is at least as important as search patterns on which leads visitors to the website. Going to read the part 2 to find out more on this topic.

  81. Owo_ very important and helping materials which really help me lot. Thanks the author Ryan for create such a nice article for us.

  82. customers are very important they are the one who will actually pay for your business so you have internal search is good idea

  83. Great! It just remind me that I need to put a search gadget on my blog. Thanks for sharing!

  84. Ryan, I will never look at that little rectangular box on my sites the same way ever again. Didn’t even think twice about it. I really enjoyed this article and learned so much from it.

  85. This is very useful information, especially for someone just starting out. How can one get a hold of such information. Surely it must cost a fortune!

  86. @ Dean

    You can set up google analytics for free! Though if you do not know how to use it, learning can be a great time investment. Continuous improvement is also expensive because either you or someone on your team has to spend a lot of time looking for insights within your data as well as testing and implementing.

  87. Does the placement of the search improve or impead usage? also how about style? is the google search you can add just as good or better as a search

  88. Your article shows that internal search is at least as important as search patterns on which leads visitors to the website. Going to read the part 2 to find out more on this topic.

  89. I am all for the “old fashioned way” of creating some Personas and use them to evaluate all the work. That still helps me more than SEO as it helps me actually converting what SEO gives me

  90. @ Kevin

    Placement of search will definitely effect how it is manipulated by your visitors. We general suggest putting it somewhere in the top banner as a best practice, but more importantly, we recommend testing the results any time you change its position or characteristics.
    We think Google Search is wonderful because it is free (nothing is free, you still have to spend resources implementing, tracking, testing, etc.), it doesn’t slow down your site, and it gives the same quality search results you might find when you search Google. It even displays images now! Unless you have a particular need with your search tool, Google Search is a very good basic option.

  91. Great post, Ryan! I really liked it… I believe that Google Analytics is very important, not just to follow the progress of your site, but to analyse the competition.

    Thank you for sharing this article.

  92. nice article. Question is , one of my blog has 2000+ contents but traffic is low. what’s the porblem?

  93. Thanks this is an interesting information about SEO. It is a relevant article and great info. This article can give us new ideas and help us about keywords….

  94. I agree that a site search box is very important for the I want it now. I get so many searches and when they search for items I dont carry it gives an idea on new products to carry.

  95. The articles really caught my attention since I am a marketing-manager. As a manager, or a marketing personnel, it is our duty to know know our customers, on what they really want, on what kind of treatment they need. It is such a great opportunity to know our customers or clients deeply, their traits, their customs. Since they are the LIFE JACKET OF THE COMPANY. Now, we need to take care of them and serve them to the best we can. For those who do not read yet, it is a wake up call for all of us. Read and be inspired. Thanks for the helpful massage.

  96. If you have a large site, site search is definitely a must. And don’t forget to mine the data from the site search.

  97. Thank you for this amazine and informative post. I will go and read the second and third part now.

    I have already installed google search bar on my site but I didn’t know there are so many benefits to iit. You have just listed out a lot of benefits and opportunity to be derived from internal site search. I really appreciate it as you have open my eyes to new possibilities.

    Thanks again, alhasan.

  98. I created a flash site and I did a lot of programming work to implement an internal search engine. The customer was very happy to have a search engine in his flash site.
    I also think it’s very important to have one.

  99. The idea that people use the search on your website just like they use google is so true and i never thought this way. now on i will analyze the data from my site search more carefully thanks for the great article

  100. Instant gratification does also apply to the dissemination of information, if your website doesn’t do this, you are in trouble.

  101. Customers are really good source of information on what to improve and the best ideas to rely on. That’s why, customer satisfaction and service are vital.

  102. We use the generic wordpress search on our site. I’ve heard that it adds a little extra “recognition” and you can get better ranking by using google for internal site search… is there any truth to that? Anyone care to chime in?
    Thanks

  103. Nice highlight of benefits of sight search. I hate to admit that I haven’t implemented it on my own site. Shame on me. This is a to-do for the week that I’m actually excited about

  104. This is a really interesting article. I’ve always been reluctant to include a site search function on my site. This is more to do with the aesthetics and the fact that it’s quite a small B2B site with a limited number of pages; I didn’t think it necessary. I had never considered the analytical benefits though. I can see know that it would be a great way to source ideas for content creation.

  105. Search engines within the site is very important if it is a great site with lots of offers. In this case the visitor has to offer internal search feature they are looking for, do not waste time with hundreds of offers.

  106. Wow great information on site searching – I learned a great deal from just one article. very helpful, thankyou

  107. We set up a website just over 4months ago,and have been overrun with phone calls by so called SEO people.The prices varied and the products that they offered seemed to me confusing.Telling me this and that. In reality just a load of bull.Through hard work we managed to get on to page 1,just recently it slipped to page 2 on our key word. I haven’t got a clue realy to what I’m doing ,if it’s right or wrong.What I do know it was just hard work ,plugging away .I think most of what the seo people do is produce scare tactics.When in reality they are not much wiser on it.Each one seems to have a different idea than the other.So is this all just to hype the price up ???
    Kind Regards
    David Head

  108. Very useful for me because people have moved in and out of my blog thanks for the tip

  109. @ David Head

    We have seen SEO companies do a great job at improving page rankings. At the same time, SEO does not seem to be something you need help with if you are already ranking well and getting qualified traffic. In addition, if any sales person makes you uncomfortable or confused, you should definitely tell them to stop calling you.

    More important than SEO, in our opinion, is making sure your site is optimized for the people who are landing on your site. Getting more traffic is secondary.

  110. I believe site search boxes are good for websites with a lot of content and a pages. But it’s true, they increase your chances to understand your customers’ needs if correctly implemented.

  111. Attention to details and taking note on what the customers use to search in a site is critical to make the users feel that the site is user-friendly and customer sensitive

  112. indeed, create a strategy to understand what people are looking for can make a big difference. A great idea is once in a while take a look at search terms searched. Especially in online store where the spelling of the word can be typed in the wrong way

  113. Read the market trends, analyze them and then execute the strategies. There are several things you should done before you complete the report so it may not hurt your business in future.

  114. [...] en dicha información? Las respuestas a esas y otras preguntas os esperan en el artículo “Site Search Part 1: Learn From Your Customers” de Ryan [...]

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Ryan is a GA certified analyst at Future Now with special training in SEO and CPC campaigns.

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