12 Tips to Optimize Your Search Result Filters

12 Tips to Optimize Your Search Result Filters

Search result filters are generally placed on the left side of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for eCommerce sites and help users refine their initial query.

By helping users find what they’re looking for, filters can increase your site’s revenue.

It seems pretty basic, but they should be intuitive and easy to navigate in order to help users aptly refine search results.

How to Optimize Your eCommerce Search Result Filters?

If your eCommerce shop carries a large number of similar products, filters help people find specific results. If they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they will most likely take their business elsewhere.

Check out the tips below to find out how to make the most of your search result filters.

1. Show filters that are relevant to the search query


Providing search result filters is a great way to help users easily find what they’re looking for, but be sure to show filters that are relevant for each search (this is often referred to as faceted search).

relevant search result filters

If someone searches for “laptop”, it would be helpful to provide filters for screen size, brand, price, and processing power, while if someone searches for “purse”, it would be helpful to provide filters for colour, material, and style.

Showing unrelated filters for a search is actually worse than not providing any refinements (because they visitors’ time and take up valuable space), so be sure the filters you display add value!

2. Place your filters appropriately


Place your refinement options in a location that’s easily visible, so people can find and use them.

appropriately placed product category filters

Usually, filtering sections are placed on the left side of the page or at the top, but test the placement so you can find what works for your site.

3. Make them intuitive


Name your search result filters with easily understandable terms that make sense for the products you sell.

search result filters with understandable terms

Employ selection styles that are easy to use – drop down menus, check boxes, or range selection bars are all good ideas. If users are familiar with the means of selection, they will be more likely to use the refinements.

4. Show the number of results next to each filter


Showing the number of results for each filter provides insight into how many products visitors can find for a specific refinement.

number of results for each product category filter

This helps streamline the path-to-purchase by indicating how many filters they should use to get to a manageable number of results.

5. Don’t show too many filtering options


Don’t provide too many filtering options as this may overwhelm or discourage people from using them.

Don't show too many product filters

In order to find your site’s sweet spot, test different numbers of filters and see how they perform. Collect data about the most frequently used refinements on your site and use it to optimize your filter menu.

6. Don’t suggest filters with no results


It’s a good idea to offer refinements that change based on search queries, so you provide relevant options.

It’s great to let users filter results by colour, but if colour isn’t applicable for the search term or there are 0-result pages for a product with that filter, don’t provide it as an option. 

If a user comes to your site to find a black shirt, searches “shirt” and sees a filter for black shirts – they assume you offer that product in black.

If you don’t offer it, don’t act like you do.

By making your filters for search terms accurate, relevant, and applicable you build trust with your users, which means they’ll revisit your site in the future and will probably use your refinements!

7. Make some search result filters visual


It’s often easier for people to use visual refinements.

If you have products that come in different colours, show an image of the colour instead of writing it in text.

show image instead of text in product filters where you can

This helps users visualize the colour and can clarify names if you have offer products in very specific colours like “taupe”.

If you carry different brands in your store, try showing an image of their logo instead of/in addition to writing the name.

8. Include an “on sale” filter


Everyone loves a sale – some people love it so much they only buy things on sale, so having a refinement for items on sale can help users quickly find the discounted items they’re looking for.

use "on sale" filters on eCommerce category pages

9. Have a ratings and reviews filter


Reviews play a big role in the decision making process for people on eCommerce sites, so people appreciate a refinement that lets them sort results based on high ratings.

use customer reviews and ratings as product filter options on eCommerce category pages

You can offer filtering options based on the number of reviews or star rankings, or provide filters based on unstructured data (like product features) that can be derived from product reviews.

10. Provide an option to set a price range


Cost is an important factor for most people, so it makes sense to offer a price refinement.

Price should be shown as a list of ranges, since people don’t often have an exact price in mind.

Provide a price slider feature on eCommerce category pages

This range can be written in text or you can provide a sliding bar, which lets users manually select the price range and offers more flexibility than a list of fixed price ranges.

11. Allow users to easily change filters


If a user selects a refinement and later wants to change it, make sure it’s easy for them to re-select and immediately see the results change.

This is much more efficient and user friendly than having them navigate back to the original SERP to change the refinements.

Providing boxes that can be checked and unchecked is a simple way to do this. You can also provide a button that will clear the selections and let users re-start. 

12. Save previously used filters


This is a great way to offer a personalized experience to users who visit your webshop.

Store customer information in a cookie so when they return to your site, their previously selected search result filters will already appear.

Ok, this sounds pretty creepy, but here’s an example, so you can see it in context.

If someone sets their clothing size in a filter, have that saved, so next time they visit your site their previous selection will already be filled in and the product results will be personalized. This is especially useful if you have a retail site or if customers frequently abandon your site before completing their purchase order.

If that’s too aggressive for your store, provide an option in the refinement box that lets customers select an option to save their previously used filters.

Final Thoughts


Search result filters are an essential tool in enabling shoppers to find the products they’re looking to buy.

In order to provide shoppers with the best experience possible, be sure:

  • Leverage faceted search to ensure all displayed filters are relevant to the query
  • They’re intuitive and conveniently located
  • Display the number of results beside each filter
  • Never show filters that lead to 0 results!
Balazs VekonyOnline Marketing Manager – Prefixbox

Balazs is an Online Marketing Manager at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. He’s a Budapest based marketing enthusiast, who’s interested in new technologies and solutions and believes in the power of search.

eCommerce Optimization: 7 Simple Ways To Improve Search Data Infrastructure

eCommerce Optimization: 7 Simple Ways To Improve Search Data Infrastructure

The back-end of your search function is equally as important as the front-end.

eCommerce search data can give you insight into which of your products are popular, which search queries yield no results, and give you overall insight into how to best stock your store.

Infrastructure is also important – minimizing the downtime of your search function is critically important to your company’s success since search users convert the best on websites.

Frequently review search suggestion quality


It’s important to review your eCommerce search data to see if your search relevance is improving.

Frequently checking your search analytics will help you find problems when they arise, so you can fix them before they escalate.

Your site search solution should be continually improving – most solutions do not self-improve, so you will have to manually make changes by tracking user behaviour on your site.

However, there are some solutions that do improve automatically, such as Prefixbox.

These solutions eliminate the time consuming effort of monitoring and continually updating your search platform and thus are generally a great investment.

In any case, you should check for improvements in categories like click-through rate, revenue, and average clicked position, which are important metrics to track.

Make note of the most frequently searched terms


Stay up-to-date with the terms people are searching for on your website.

These popular searches give insight into which of your products are performing well, the seasonality of your products, and which new items your customers are looking for.

Note this: These popular searches give insight into which of your products are performing well, the seasonality of your products, and which new items your customers are looking for.

This eCommerce search data is especially helpful when you are re-stocking.

Use popular searches for SEO and PPC campaigns


Once you make note of the popular searches on your site, be sure to make the most of them!

The language your website visitors use on your search function is the same they use for online search, so your database of previously searched terms is a PPC gold mine.

You can use these keywords as a base for your SEO efforts along with your PPC campaigns.

By having insight into the direct phrasing your customers use, you can fine-tune campaigns to reach your exact audience.

This insight will help your campaigns perform better and boost the SEO of your website, enabling more people to find your products.

Find search queries that have poor results


Search queries that have poor results can provide valuable insight. These searches are terms with a click-through rate of 0.

This can happen when people search for products you don’t carry or when customers search for terms you don’t use to describe your products and end up on the 0-results page.

  • If visitors frequently search for products you don’t carry, use this insight when considering what products to stock for the following year.
  • If you decide you don’t want to stock these products, you could provide information about them or recommend similar products, so you still provide value to customers searching for those items.
  • If your customers use different wording to find products on your site, consider switching to their terminology or creating synonym rules so both terms will direct the customer to the product. 

After you make these changes, be sure to keep monitoring your search data in your site to ensure the changes you made were beneficial. If not, continue testing options until you can perfect your product names and stock.

Check search data for keywords that become popular


Keep an eye out for search terms that become more popular, so you can keep up with demand. Popular search terms often change – you might see regular seasonal changes or spontaneous cultural changes.

Terms that become more popular signal which products your customers want to buy. If you see a sudden increase in a search term, stock more of that product, so you can keep up with (the anticipated) demand.

Keep an eye on your top listed products


Having data on the click-through rate of your first 5 listed products per search term is important, since these products should be the most relevant to the search and therefore most clicked.

If you consistently see a high click-through rate on these products, great!

If not, try re-ranking your products to place the most popular ones first; this should increase the conversion rate on your site.

Gather mobile website data too


It’s important to track data from your mobile site, so you can see which features are the most important and frequently used.

Site traffic patterns provide insight into how campaigns are performing and about user behaviour on your site, so you can see where to improve.

Be sure to track things like which browsers are used, how long visitors stay on your site, how they navigate, and any abandonment.

Have multiple data centres


Search plays a big role in directing customers to the products they want to buy, so it’s important your search solution doesn’t suffer from downtime.

Data centres sometimes fail and go offline, so in order to avoid down time, host all the critical parts of your web store in multiple data centres.

Consider using a SaaS search solution


SaaS, software as a service, solutions can save you time and money.

These solutions often work at a higher capacity and come at a lower price than on premise solutions.

Plus, they’re usually hosted in multiple data centres, which minimizes down time.

If you’d like to start collecting data on your eCommerce site, you can set up Google Analytics.

If your eCommerce search data collection and infrastructure are properly set-up, make sure your faceted filtersSERP, no result pages and mobile version of your site search are also optimized.

Balazs VekonyOnline Marketing Manager – Prefixbox

Balazs is an Online Marketing Manager at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. He’s a Budapest based marketing enthusiast, who’s interested in new technologies and solutions and believes in the power of search.

11 Must Have Conversion Boosting Search Features for Ecommerce Sites

11 Must Have Conversion Boosting Search Features for Ecommerce Sites

Site search is a powerful tool that can boost your online revenue and conversion rates while providing your shoppers with a better experience, but a lot of online stores still aren’t fully leveraging it.

Check out these 11 must have conversion boosting search features to find out how you can optimize your shop.

Site Search Conversion Boosting Features Aricle intro

Does Your Online Store Satisfy 85% Of Visitors?


People research what they want to buy before making a purchase. In fact, 87% of shoppers begin their product searches using online channels. Shoppers most often research products by executing a search from the search box to get directly to the product they’re thinking about buying. They’ll read a bit of information about it and check the same product on your competition’s site to compare prices.

If they can’t find the product on your site, it’s a sure bet they will be taking their business elsewhere.

Site search functions that are complete and clear keep visitors on your site instead of driving them to the competition.

Site search also maximizes revenue.

Did you know?

  • Site Search users convert to sales 4-6 times more often than non-search visitors.
  • Revenue from search function users makes up about 50% of a web shop’s total revenue.
  • A simple text-based search bar reduces site abandonment from 65% to 40%.
  • Semantic searches, which identify customer intent, reduce abandonment further from 40% to 2% and lead to an average of 16.2 page views per session.

Site search is one of the most powerful tools you can use to increase your sales, but most e-commerce sites are terrible at using it. An overview from a few years ago revealed how many businesses are failing site search basic training. Here are a few numbers:

  • 16% of ecommerce sites do not support searching by product name or model number.
  • 70% require users to use store jargon instead of applying any kind of synonym matching.
  • 60% of ecommerce sites do not use faceted search despite it being the foundation for filtering results properly.

If you’re making any of these mistakes, it’s likely that search is hurting your business.

How Much Does Bad Search Cost Your Business?


E-commerce search engines can boost conversion rates by an average of 15.8%. Optimized search drives an online revenue increase of 47%. What does that mean for your business? Let us think about just two numbers:

  • Your total revenue from sales on your website last month.
  • 1.5

Now, multiply your total revenue by 1.5. The answer is how much revenue your site could have generated last month if you had already been using an optimized search function.

ecommerce lost revenue calculation

We’ve compiled a list of the hottest 25 eCommerce site search best practices to help you reap the full benefits of search. Imagine putting all these into practice. Your user experience and conversions rates will skyrocket!

Consider These Must Have Site Search Features to Improve Your User Experience


By now, you should be convinced of the importance of a great site search function.

Your search directly guides shoppers to the products they want to buy – if your search can’t do that while meeting their expectations, you’re losing out on business.

Here are the search features you should include to boost your conversions and sales.

Site Search Box


A search box is one of the most basic site search features you can have on your website. Site search functionality is crucial to a positive user search experience.

Let us imagine a simple example: You sell island-themed shoes and clothes on your website. A visitor comes to your site hoping to buy a men’s extra-large Hawaiian shirt. After browsing your catalogue for a few pages, he is not closer to finding his size or design. Your visitor has two options:

  • Continue browsing slowly, while feeling more and more frustrated.
  • Use the search function to find exactly what he is looking for.

Which choice do you want him to make?

You want him to search, find the product, and make a purchase all while delivering a great experience.

However, just having site search isn’t enough; all site search isn’t the same.

There are some features you can use to make sure your visitors have a great user experience and easily find the products they want to buy.

Here are some of the features your site search box needs to include:

Typo-Tolerant Autocomplete


Your Autocomplete has to be able to decipher typos. These occur in nearly 30% of searches and even more frequently on mobile. If your Autocomplete can’t, it’s going to lead shoppers to “no results found” pages – even if you sell the product they want to buy.

Ranking


Ranking algorithms apply to product and keyword suggestions in the Autocomplete, as well as the products on the Search Engine Results Page.

These algorithms take into consideration both the relevancy of the results along with the popularity to provide the best results to shoppers. In some cases, search providers have a portal where you can edit these values to “boost” certain products you want to show.

Personalization


Your business can use machine learning to personalize your visitors’ experiences. For example, personalization could capture a user’s previous search history to show more relevant results to them on their current visit. As your site search function remains in place, your users will receive better results.

6% of retail visits that involved AI suggestions led to a 4.5 times greater cart rate and a 500% increase in per visit spend.

Keyword, Product, and Category Suggestions


Your Autocomplete shouldn’t only suggests keywords. But instead, should recommend keywords, products, and categories.

This type of variation means that every shopper can have a great experience.

ecommerce search autocomplete extended with product and category suggestions

People who know the exact product they want, can quickly navigate to the product page. Shoppers who have a vague idea can browse through whole categories. And keyword suggestions can guide shoppers who have a semi-defined idea of the product they want.

Dynamic Filtering for Different Searches


Filters can’t be universally applied to searches. There is not much point in displaying shoe size filters to someone searching for bananas. That’s where Dynamic Filtering comes in.

This means that different (relevant) filters are applied to different searches. It also means that whenever someone starts using the filters, they update so that no combination will lead shoppers to a 0-results page.

A study done by Screen Pages showed that 20% of shoppers who use the search function further refine their search by using filters. This is why it’s important to have a full search-suite, not just a search box.

This is a subset of Faceted Search.

Faceted search, or guided navigation as it’s sometimes referred to, is a search method that utilizes the metadata attributed to a product in a store, providing visitors an opportunity to filter and refine their search queries when looking for specific products.

If you leverage faceted search, you’ll improve your shoppers’ experience by directing them quickly, and easily, to the products they want to buy.

Breadcrumb Trails


Breadcrumb trails keep people from getting lost on your site. They come in a few different versions:

  • History – People are very used to a history breadcrumb trail because it works the same as the back button on their browser. A simple trail shows the previous page, the one before that, and so on back to the beginning of their journey through your website.
  • Category – Trails broken down by category start at the broadest section of your website and then narrow down through different filters. For example, a clothing website could have Home –> Clothes –> Men –> Shirts as a trail through its pages.

SERP Product Result Visualization


Search Engine Result Pages have become standardized with the rise in online shopping. This means that shoppers tend to navigate these SERPs in a certain way and if yours doesn’t follow the best practices, you could confuse shoppers and cause them to abandon your store.

One of the most important things to remember is that all of the product thumbnails on your SERP should be similar – same size, same style, and the product visualized the same way.

standardized ecommerce search result page

Here are other things you should consider when designing your SERP:

Number of Products Per Page


SERP product visualization is customizable – you can determine the number of product results per page and also provide options to let your shoppers change the layout. Google shows ten per page for a reason: people don’t look any farther. We recommend you follow their example.

Keeping results numbers low goes back to faceted search and dynamic filtering. Helping customers find what they are looking for on the first page, in the first slot, is the goal of good search.

Keep in mind: you should display fewer results on mobile because of smaller screens.

Quick View and Add to Cart


Even better than just showing products to shoppers is helping them actually make a purchase.

add-to-cart and quick-view features on category pages

The add-to-cart feature lets shoppers immediately add items to their cart to purchase later. This is a big win for your business because it shortens the sales journey.

Dynamic Product Ranking


Google has been attempting to master search intent for years.

The big idea is your website must show visitors what they want to find. So, when they search, you want to display the best results to your users.

Dynamic product ranking filters your products according to their popularity for the search results. This ensures the customer sees the best search results every time.

Out of Stock Products


There are a few different ways to handle this situation:

  1. Remove them from the results
  2. Show the products anyway with a restock date
  3. Display related products

Zero Result Pages


Landing on a “no results found” page is one of the worst experiences a shopper can have. This tells them that you don’t have the product they want to buy – which means they’ll take their business elsewhere.

You will never completely eliminate them, but you should aim to reduce the frequency as much as possible. Since they’ll always occur, follow these best practices when designing your “no results found” pages.

Related Searches


Including Related Searches on your SERP helps your shoppers easily navigate to other keywords/products or refine their initial query. This feature suggests relevant alternative, or complementary keywords and products to shoppers.

Related Searches can appear as keyword suggestions above/below the SERP or as product suggestions below the SERP or on 0-result pages.

Deep Query Understanding


Understanding customer intent is difficult, but possible. The better a search solution can understand shopper intent, the better results (and user experience it can provide).

Search engines often leverage Natural Language Processing and AI to get better over time.

Some search providers also implement Synonym Management to further improve the quality of their results.

Frequent Data Refresh


Your website could change quickly when people are shopping. Stock might run low, a fad might suddenly cause one of your products to skyrocket in sales, or a global pandemic could lead to a big spike in demand for your personalized face masks.

If you don’t have frequent data refresh, your catalogue could easily become outdated and confuse shoppers.

Frequent data refreshing is also important if you leverage dynamic ranking (which you should) – this ensures product and keyword suggestions stay relevant.

Detailed Site Search Analytics


Google Analytics doesn’t provide enough insight when it comes to eCommerce site search – you need a solution with dedicated analytics.

This powerful tool lets you plan more product lines, identify weak products, see the language your customers use, and reduce 0-result search rate (among many other things!) and keep an eye on your customers’ shopping behaviour.

In general, site search analytics can be broken down to these three areas:

  • Search Engine Analytics tell you how many searches visitors conducted, what the results were, how many visitors clicked on a result, what rank the result was, and many more data points. Check out this guide to find more information on Search Engine Analytics.
  • Autocomplete Analytics reveal how users interact with the Autocomplete function.  Reports include data about suggestions usage, usage at position one, search box abandonment, conditional usage, and more. You can find more detailed information here.
  • Related Search Analytics provide data about popular products, popular searches, 0-result searches, engagement, cart actions, and search term details can help you tweak your search engine results pages to show your customers more of what you want them to see. More information is available here.

The data in these reports can help you decide which products to stock more of, how to name products, and information to include in marketing campaigns. This are just some of the ways you can use Site Search Analytics to boost your business!

Key Points


Let us recap a few key points to keep them fresh in your mind:

What is on-site search?

On-site is more than a simple query box. It encompasses Autocomplete, Related Searches, and Semantic Search Engines. It’s the best way you can enable shoppers to make a purchase on your site. And for you, it is a window into the mind of your customers. You can use it to understand their shopping desires and you can use its data to plan new product strategies and refine your business model.

How can search functionality be improved?

If you don’t have a site search function – get one! If you already have one, check that it has the features in this guide. And always keep an eye on your site’s analytics to find out the specific improvements you can make.

What features should an e-commerce website have?

The basic features your search should include are: typo-tolerant Autocomplete with keyword, product, and category suggestions, dynamic filtering, a cohesive SERP, Related Searches, effective 0-results pages, and detailed search-specific analytics.

Now that you’ve seen how much site search can impact your revenue, we hope you’re ready to optimize yours. If you implement these 11 conversion posting features, we’re sure you’ll see an increase in your conversion rate and revenue in no time.

Paige TyrrellHead of Marketing – Prefixbox

Paige is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.

What Ecommerce Brands Often Get Wrong about Site Search

What eCommerce Brands Often Get Wrong about Site Search

In my life so far, I must have visited thousands of ecommerce sites, ranging massively in quality. And while the worst offenders have found countless different ways in which to take up far too much of my time and raise my stress levels, few things infuriate me more than a site with weak on-site search.

Imagine finding yourself at a loss trying to locate a particular product in a grocery store and flagging down a store assistant, only for them to stare at you blankly and sullenly refuse to provide you with any help. You’re trying to buy from them — why won’t they help you?!

So whether you’re a customer looking to codify why exactly some stores annoy you so much, or you’re a store owner looking for some direction on how to improve, this piece can help. Let’s go ahead and run through the main things that ecommerce brands get wrong about site search.

They Don’t Present It Clearly


The whole point of a search system is to help you find things that you might otherwise have missed (or taken a prohibitive amount of time to happen upon). As such, having the search system itself be tricky to find is a colossal design failure, yet some ecommerce stores do this — some intentionally (not considering search important) and some unknowingly.

There are two major ways in which stores fail to present their search functions clearly:

  • The search box is not in a prominent areas. In almost all cases, a search bar should be shown above the fold and helped to stand out through contrast and spacing. Adding a small link to a dedicated search page in an otherwise-uninteresting corner of the screen will ensure that very few people ever discover its existence.
  • They don’t make reference to them. At a minimum, a site with internal search should mention it in a help section of some kind, and there should be occasional prompts for the user to return to the search function if uncertain about where to go. If there’s no reference to a search option, people will assume it doesn’t exist.

The failure to prominently display a search bar is particularly frustrating from sites that actually have robust search functionality, because it ensures a near-total waste of effort.

They don’t tag products WELL


A search facility is only as useful as the product database into which it provides a window, and incompetence or apathy on the part of eCommerce retailers can lead to product tagging that is bland at best and utterly incomprehensible at worst. Good product tags are:

  • Worth including. The quantity of product tags isn’t inherently important, and loading a product description with fifty distinct tags is only going to cause confusion. Most of them will invariably be insignificant, and thus serve to distract from the tags users care about.
  • Implemented consistently. If you’ve ever used a marketplace such as Ebay, you’ll know how tough it can be to narrow down a search when sellers use different tags to communicate the same things. Cases for the iPhone 6 might be tagged as “Compatible with iPhone 6” by one seller, “iPhone 6 Compatible” by another, and just “iPhone” by a third — how do you get a full list of all relevant cases?
  • In line with user expectations. The terminology you use for tagging also matters, because you’ll want to mirror the phrasing used by the searchers. Tagging a phone for “NFC” might be accurate, but if searchers are looking for “contactless”, you should adjust your phrasing to suit.

An eCommerce store with a solid search system can entirely undermine it by failing to achieve any degree of consistency or sense with its product tagging, and it’s relatively common because product tagging is an arduous and boring task that can’t meaningfully be sped up — but it has to be done for search to be maximally useful.

They stick with default systems


In many cases, eCommerce brands never even think to make any changes from whatever default systems are present on their stores. Whether because it’s most cost-effective or because of a lack of technical expertise, the average store today is the product of a user-friendly storefront creation tool, and goes largely untouched from a technical standpoint (beyond some basic setup work and template tweaking).

And while using DIY software is likely to ensure a basic search facility, it’s going to be a big disappointment relative to a smarter solution by doing the following:

  • Providing no product filtering. The larger a product range is, the more important a filtering system becomes. Relying on tags, a good filter system allows you to incrementally narrow down a search instead of repeatedly searching, checking the results, and revising the search from the beginning.
  • Missing valuable data. Any search feature that doesn’t properly segment sequences of search strings is wasting valuable data, because knowing how users step-by-step alter their searches gives you tremendous insight into how they think — insight that you can use to improve your UX and drive more conversions.
  • Overlooking rhetorical potential. Through autocomplete terms, related products, and recommended items, a high-quality search window goes a long way to provide the user with value, saving them time and helping them expand their order.
  • Giving generic results. Personalization is increasingly key, as we expect the search engines we use to have some awareness of context when interpreting our searches. Implemented well, it raises the value of a search function for any given user over time, something very important for customer retention.

Any ecommerce brand that wants to maximize its profits (so every eCommerce brand) should explore using integrated search services to provide stronger functionality.

Conclusion


To briefly recap, ecommerce brands get three major things wrong about site search:

  • They don’t give it the prominence it deserves.
  • They don’t tag their products to be search-optimized.
  • They don’t make any effort to customize it.

Where this is the result of indifference, it’s hard to know what to say to the offending companies other than to ask them about how they use ecommerce sites in an effort to have them realize why search is so important. Where it’s a matter of ignorance, though, it’s really a matter of making them aware of how incredibly transformative an exceptional search tool can be.

Patrick FosterWriter and eCommerce Expert – Ecommerce Tips

On a regular basis, Patrick blogs about the latest developments from the ecommerce world. For updates on new activity when it happens, head to the ET Twitter @myecommercetips.

How to Increase Revenue with B2B Search

How to Increase Revenue with B2B Search

While eCommerce search function is important for every webstore, it plays a different role on B2B shops than it does on B2C. In order to fully optimize your site for conversions and revenue, it’s important to understand the function of search on your site and how you can leverage its full potential.

Differences between B2B and B2C search


When outlining the differences between B2B and B2C search, it’s important to start by thinking about each site’s customer profile.

People shopping on B2C websites are shopping for themselves or for friends. They’ve either arrived to your site with an idea of what they’re looking for or are happy to just browse around.

The browser
the "browser" type of online store visitors
The searcher
the "searcher" type of online store visitors

If they’re using your search function, they’re looking for something particular although it could be something vague like ‘black shoes’. These shoppers are often open to seeing different/related product suggestions and will frequently order something they didn’t initially intend to purchase.

On B2B sites, people aren’t necessarily browsing as much as they are placing an order. They’re often re-ordering something they’ve already purchased for their company or want to stock in their shop. They know the brand, product SKU number, and exact items to buy.

They aren’t usually open to browsing around and will almost never buy something they didn’t initially intend to. They order about 4X as many products as B2C shoppers.

In this way, due to the high number of different products and shopper’s specific needs, search on a B2B site is incredibly important as it plays an integral part in quickly (and accurately) directing shoppers to the product(s) they’re looking to buy.

That’s why 95% of B2B shoppers use the search function, while only 20% of B2C shoppers doThe intent to purchase for users who use the search function is 3-4x higher than users who just browse. This explains the huge difference between B2B and B2C sites.

B2B product catalogues are also significantly larger than B2C product catalogues. For example, an average product catalog for a large B2C site contains around 10,000X products, while a B2B product catalog contains 100,000X products.

With such a wide range of products, it’s virtually impossible for a shopper to navigate to products on a B2B site without the use of search and oftentimes, category navigation is not a viable solution for product discovery.

Search on a B2B site is a key driver in providing shoppers with a great and efficient experience.

With the wide volume of available products and the predictability of shopper orders, search gets shoppers to where they want to go. The importance of B2B search is clearly visible in the 95% use rate. If your B2B search isn’t optimized, you could be missing out on a lot of revenue.

So let’s dive into some best practices on how to properly optimize your search.

B2B Search Best Practices


Now that you see how important search is on a B2B site, let’s dive into some of the best practices. By optimizing your search accordingly, you can effectively increase your conversion rate and online revenue.

Focus on accuracy


The B2B shopper is on a mission to complete an order. They have their shopping list ready and want to get in and out as fast as possible; so accurate results from the beginning are critical to providing a great experience.

Your Autocomplete makes the first impression and can save a shopper a lot of time, so it’s important it’s optimized for speed and accuracy.

In order to meet customer expectations, you need a strong Autocomplete with a deep understanding of natural language that can accurately decipher typos.

  • Your Autocomplete needs to follow the general guidelines: Be prominently featured at the top of the page and be wide enough to support your typical search queries.
  • It should recommend popular keywords and products as soon as someone focuses in and it should never suggest products or keywords that you don’t carry or are out of stock.

To further improve accuracy, your Autocomplete needs to be able to understand and process all the ways your shoppers search. Some people will search by brand name, some by product specifications, and others by product ID number – your Autocomplete needs to be able to understand all of this and provide meaningful results.

You need a Search Engine that can accurately display search results based on accuracy and popularity. In order to stay up to date, it should update these rankings at least daily, with more frequent catalog updates.

In order to get amazing accuracy, it’s important to leverage the latest search technologies. As they become more widely adopted, it helps your store stay relevant and provide a better user experience than your competitors.

Leverage ML and NLP


Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, while buzzwords, are essential in adding value to your search results. When leveraged correctly, these technologies will increase the number of accurate search results, which enable more shoppers to find the products they’re looking for.

Natural Language Processing technology enables search engines to deeply understanding search queries and user intent, which ultimately provides shoppers with more, and more relevant search results.

A great way to bolster your NLP search is by adding relevant synonyms to keywords and products or to leverage a synonym database, which does this automatically.

A search leveraging Machine Learning continually optimizes search results based on executed queries and aggregated user behavior.

With this, search results are updated frequently (or in real time) based on how people are interacting with them (e.g.: search result clicks, add to basket and order actions). For example, products that are often purchased in after a certain executed query will become more closely related and will show up higher on the Search Engine Results Page when the query is executed in the future.

Machine Learning algorithms are an effective way to mine through a complex amount of data to add coherence to search patterns.

These are incredibly effective ways of reducing the 0-result rate on your site. Landing on a 0-results page is one of the worst experiences a shopper can have as you’re telling them you don’t carry the product they want to purchase. They, therefore, will take their business elsewhere and you miss out on an extra sale.

By leveraging NLP and ML, you’re able to significantly reduce your 0-result rate and increase your online revenue (by increasing the average order value for the B2B shopper), all while providing your customers with a better shopping experience.

Improve product findability


While strong merchandising features and a dependence on filters come to mind when thinking about optimizing a B2C webshop, they also play an important role in B2B webshops due to the immense size of product catalogues. Improving product findability allows shoppers to quickly make a purchase and thus increases your online revenue.

Filters are an essential way shoppers sort through products on the search results page to find what they’re looking to buy.

You should leverage dynamic filtering, filters that change based on product results shown, to allow shoppers to narrow down a wide range of results. For example, someone shopping for laptops may want to filter by brand, size, processing power; while someone shopping for printer ink would need to filter results based on printer type.

Since shoppers aren’t able to effectively navigate your store manually, it’s important that you have the ability to promote products on sale.

If you’re looking for a search provider, make sure you select one that allows you to set rules to boost specific products, keywords, or even categories (depending on your business, you may also want to be able to do this based on different geographic locations).

By providing intuitive filters and leveraging merchandising, shoppers are better able to find the products they’re looking to buy and will be more likely to make a purchase; increasing your bottom line.

Leverage data


While all of the previously mentioned tactics are important to use in your B2B shop, the most important thing you can do is utilize data.

Monitoring the performance of your search with detailed analytics, is one of the most essential things you can do to optimize it.

When looking to implement an analytics tool – you need something that tracks search metrics more in-depth than Google Analytics. Oftentimes, site search providers will offer these tools for free, so do a basic Google search and evaluate offers.

Once you’re using analytics, make sure you track the following things:

  • Search terms that lead to 0-results, so you can optimize your naming conventions to quickly reduce 0-result rates. Alternatively you can add synonyms in your search engine to fix popular searches in one step, that way you don’t need to rename all the products in play.
  • Popular products/searches will give you insight into what your customers often buy. You can filter these by seasonality, so you can optimize your product stock.
  • Your search usage and find out exactly how much revenue comes from search users. By checking this regularly, you can instantly see if/when there’s a problem with your search and quickly repair it.
  • By checking your search rate/device, you can see where most of your shoppers come from an optimize your site accordingly.

The benefits of frequently checking your search analytics isn’t just better for improving your bottom line.

This insight also benefits other departments. For example, marketing can get insight into customer language by checking the words they use when searching for products. This can then be used in newsletters or in PPC campaigns to make marketing more effective.

Analytics is the basis for a strong search and shouldn’t be something you overlook.

Get Personal


When optimizing your B2B search, think about adding some elements of personalization. Frequently, B2B shoppers return to the same site to place the same order monthly or quarterly. In the B2B industry, the rate of return customers is high, so you should consider personalizing your search by recommending previously searched/purchased products in the Autocomplete or saving previous orders.

You could also customize product recommendations on 0-results pages. You could do this by suggesting other previously purchased products or highlight related (or complementary) products/keywords, so they can navigate to a product page with just a click.

This makes the shopping journey even easier and faster for your customers and provides them with a seamless shopping experience that boosts your online revenue.

Summary


Search on a B2B website is critically important as more than 90% of shoppers interact with it at some point during their shopping journey.

In order to provide your customers with the best experience possible, you need to focus on a few key areas. Most importantly, your search should be accurate and typo-tolerant, you should leverage the latest technologies, implement dynamic filtering and personalization, and monitor results and adjust accordingly based on detailed analytics.

While it can seem overwhelming to optimize the nuances of search, site search providers are able to help and are often happy to suggest some best practices or ways to improve your existing store.

Paige TyrrellHead of Marketing – Prefixbox

Paige is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.

12 Awesome “No results found” Pages (Plus, UX Design Best Practices and Tips)

12 Awesome “No results found” Pages
(Plus, UX Design Best Practices and Tips)

No matter how much optimization you do, it’s inevitable that some searches on your online store will lead to no-results found pages. Planning for these inevitable dead-ends should be an integral part of your UX design from the start. Search is the most important tool in guiding shoppers to products, but even if you follow all of the most important eCommerce search best practices, “no results found” pages still happen.

12 "No results found" Page Best Practices

Contents

Chapter 1

No results, no control

Chapter 2

“No results found” page design guidelines

Chapter 3

The best “no results found” page examples

Chapter 4

“No results found” page design best practices

Having a great “no results found” page design is an enormous opportunity for you to build trust with your customers, but you can only do that if you design these pages consciously.

Even though these pages are critical to a online store, according to Baymard, “68% of e-commerce sites have a “No Results Page” implementation that is essentially a dead-end for users, offering no more than a generic set of search tips.” Which also means that customizing your page in a user-friendly way is an opportunity to do get ahead of your competitors. And it only takes minimal effort.

Why are these pages so important?

It’s because these pages keep shoppers on your site even though they can’t immediately find what they’re looking for. If you have a great “no results found” page, you can effectively re-route the shoppers and help them make another purchase. Whereas, with a bad “no results found” page, the shopper will most likely leave your site and go to your competition instead.  

This is a big deal. You can avoid this by thinking of the following:

Chapter 1

No results, no control


It’s important to note that while you should aim to guide shoppers with a search bar, this also gives them a sense of confidence and control over their shopping experience. This sense of control is important in creating a good user experience and building brand loyalty with your customers.

Landing on a “No Results Found” page that doesn’t provide alternate products or information on what to do next, can easily make shoppers feel like they’ve lost control over their shopping experience.

Why does this happen?

As Nielsen states, shoppers don’t always realize that they arrive at a “no results found” page, simply because conducting searches on the web is such an integral part of our daily lives – we are wired to expect certain results within a certain structure. That is: some information on the top about the search that was just performed, which could usually be skipped over, and the relevant results below.

In case of a “no results found” page, information about what happened is usually included in the spot that people often skip over, so they don’t realize they search didn’t return any relevant results. Shoppers are often surprised when they see other webpages or products where they expect the results to be. This often confuses shoppers and leads to a negative experience on your website.

This is why providing tips and alternative products, in a way that the user actually reads them, is very important.

In this article we are going to look at some awesome examples of “no result found” pages.

But first, we have to talk about the basic guidelines of how these pages should be designed.

Chapter 2

“No results found” page design guidelines


Now that you see why “no results” pages are so important, let’s check out the best practices for designing pages that help reduce your site-abandonment rate.

Clearly explain what happened


Clear up any potential confusion at the first opportunity to do so.

And be sure to do it in a way in which the shopper actually sees your message – otherwise it’s pointless.

To figure this out, do a heat map analysis of your search results pages, and put the information about the failed search in the place shoppers instinctively look first.

You don’t have to over-complicate this: just tell them the search term they entered yielded no results, but they shouldn’t just stop searching. It often happens that the product they’re looking for is in-stock, it just didn’t turn up due to a typo or a difference in naming.

Always take the blame


Always start these messages with an apology.

Even if you just include something like “our bad”, “sorry”, “apologies for this” in the text, it eases the frustration the shopper might feel, and will help keep them on the site and take the alternative routes you provide.

Speaking of which…

Provide alternatives


Never leave the user with just a notice and apology: always engage them, urge them to try again, or to take further action on the site.

Keep in mind, your site is likely not the only one they are browsing: if their search ends in no results found in your online store, chances are, they’ll leave and go to one of your competitors.

Check their spelling


Actively provide tips if the shopper misspells a word.

Instead of simply informing them that they misspelled a word, you should provide a clickable version of the right spelling that will immediately direct them to the results page (yes, like Google and other search engines).

Suggest similar results


You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Suggest similar keywords and products based on their initial search term with Related Searches
  • Make personalized product and keyword suggestions based on their previous shopping behavior on your site
  • If you can’t track their behavior, at least offer products that are popular among your other customers.

And if this is not enough…

Engage


Even if they can’t reach the product they’re looking for, provide some alternatives for staying in touch.

Include your contact information (email, phone number etc.), or valuable content, links to your social channels, or a newsletter sign-up form that asks for their email address.

The goal is to not let go of their hand, in hopes that later they will return and make a purchase.

And now, let’s check out how some of the best websites out there make use of these best practices in their search results page design…

Chapter 3

The best “no results found” page examples


We covered all the best practices, so are you ready to see them in action?
Get some inspiration for your “no results found” pages from the following examples!

Nordstrom


The two basic things that Nordstrom does right here are:

  • They provide clickable, relevant alternatives based on the keyword provided.
  • They provide an alternative way of finding the desired product via direct contact.
    Note: they don’t only suggest contacting themselves, but also recommend a relevant specialist to contact if you’re not sure what you’re looking for (and provide you a direct path for doing so).

Best Buy


What they do well is that:

  • They offer a way to circle back to your history on their site: view and track previous orders
  • They provide an option for easily contacting their customer service in case you need more help.

Walgreens


Walgreens excels at helping shoppers retry or refine their search, by giving clear tips and instructions:

  • Directing you to a log of your history on their site
  • Informing shoppers that not all of their products might be on the site
  • Providing shoppers with a chance to contact customer service

They also provide a feedback field, which could collect valuable user information they could leverage to further improve.

Build.com


The search results page at Build.com, even with no results, is informative and offers several ways to proceed, including:

  • Multiple suggestions on how to fix the search query
  • Logging in to check your order history
  • Suggesting alternative, popular products

Sears


At Sears, they not only explain what happened, but they also suggest other, relevant products based on your previous activity.

Costco


Take note how Costco designed their “no results found” page:

  • They apologize
  • They provide an easy way for shoppers to execute another search and even include an extra field for doing so where the results should be (where shoppers instinctively look first).
  • They provide suggestions on how to re-execute the query, as in: check your spelling, try more general or different keywords.

Although, they miss an opportunity by not offering alternative results based on popularity or user behavior.

Ikea


The main reason their “no results found: page is user friendly is because they immediately show the search query, which is a great way to enable shoppers to identify and fix typos.

This comes along with an apology, to take away some of the frustration. And to alleviate the rest, they also offer alternative, personalized product suggestions.

GAP


GAP is great because they actively identify typos.

And just like Google, they immediately show results for the keyword you might have misspelled.

eBay


eBay has a unique, highly effective tactic on their “no results found” pages – they enable shoppers to save their search and set alerts for when the desired product becomes available.

This is the best idea for a zero results page I can think of.

Wayfair


Here, you can see a great example of how search result design can be user-friendly: shoppers are not only given information on what went wrong with the search, but the search engine actually takes that search query and uses the individual keywords to provide other relevant result suggestions.

Debenhams


Again, the focus here is on immediately providing help: by placing a search bar in a shopper’s line of sight increases the chance they’ll stay on your site and make a purchase.

Disney Store


Finally, a unique example.

This “no results page” design isn’t very helpful, but it’s still user-friendly.

Disney simply uses some humor to ease possible tension for hitting a dead end and urges shoppers to continue.

You should consider using cute or funny images or language as part of your “no results page” design as it can make your online store more relatable and memorable. By creating an enjoyable shopping experience for your customers, you’re more likely to generate brand loyalty.

Chapter 4

“No results found” page design best practices


A shopper who uses the search function on your online store has a strong purchase intent. According to the Demac Media’s Q3 2016 Benchmark Report, users who use the site search are 216% more likely to convert than those who don’t.

No matter how much you optimize your site search, “no results” pages are inevitable. So it’s essential you spend some time optimizing these to help shoppers continue on their buying journey.

You’ll provide your customers with a better user experience and see an increase in your conversion rate and a decrease in your site abandonment rate.

When designing these pages, the main things to keep in mind are:

  • Be helpful
  • Always provide a way for the shopper to immediately continue shopping
  • Don’t leave shoppers staring at dead ends without offering help

Do you have a “no results found” page that you think is even better than the examples here? Send it to us or include it in a comment, and we might just add it to this list!

Paige TyrrellHead of Marketing – Prefixbox

Paige is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.

Why eCommerce Software is the Future of Business?

Why eCommerce Software is the Future of Business?

The era of the internet is here. More and more aspects of people’s lives are now tied into the digital space.

This makes it the perfect place for businesses to tap into a wider market and audience. With the right tools, you may just be able to unlock new potentials for your business.

In fact, a study by Statista says that global e-retail sales have reached over $3.5 trillion in 2019. This is expected to grow even more in 2020. These figures show that more companies are beginning to see the benefits of going digital with their transactions.

With that in mind, you will need the best eCommerce software to leverage against your competitors in the digital market. These are solutions that enable you to sell products and services online. It assists you in overseeing your eCommerce operations by managing inventory, optimizing your online stores, calculating taxes, handling customers, and others. 

By finding the right eCommerce software for your company, you may just be able to boost your eCommerce sales.

So, here’s why eCommerce software is the future of businesses.

Shift in demographics


As the world changes, a newer generation rises above the older. This means your target audience has also moved over from Gen X and Boomers to Millennials and Gen Z. These are the generation who grew up with technology and have relied on it their whole lives.

This just shows where the trend for marketing and selling is headed. Most of your target market are now used to getting the things they need and want with a few clicks of their fingers. Businesses are now scrambling to find ways to meet such demands from their new generation of customers.

This is where eCommerce software platforms come in. These software solutions will bring your products and services closer to your customers by connecting your business to the internet. This will make your goods and services more accessible and convenient to reach. Likewise, it will encourage more people to avail from you.

Unified platform for all your eCommerce needs


Back in the day, businesses had to use different software to be able to sell online. These software solutions would manage different aspects of their operations from front-end to back-end. This makes it too costly to sustain in the long run. Likewise, it makes it difficult to transition from one task to another.

Fortunately, the advancement of technology has produced a new breed of eCommerce platforms. These new platforms can easily integrate with other types of e-commerce software to create a unified avenue for all your online operations’ needs.

Nowadays, eCommerce platforms have the potential to expand their tools and features. They do not only handle the front-end part, where the customers can access your company’s services and products. They can also manage your inventory, restock them for you, handle accountancy tasks, and gather analytics. This gives you the ability to personalize your software to cater to your every need while keeping everything within a unified platform.

Intelligent automations


One huge benefit of using eCommerce software is that it automates recurring tasks. This lessens the workload on your part, cuts the cost in the long term, and hastens processes on your end. It also reduces the risks of errors.

eCommerce platforms, nowadays, have smarter automations to manage your online business without your further interference. This lets you do more while working less It oversees operations, manages them, and records them for you.

Likewise, it can notify you of issues, billing payments, shipping orders, and many others. This ensures that you are continuously updated on how your business is faring without having to constantly check up on it. With this, you can even run your store all day and night without needing to close it down.

Have access to the global market


The rise of the internet has blurred geographical boundaries. Everyone can connect with anyone around the globe. This is also true for eCommerce. Through the internet, businesses can now expand their reach for their customers.

eCommerce software solutions will make your products and services available to anyone and anywhere in the world. You are no longer restricted within your local areas. You can expand your horizon to make your business grow faster.

Nowadays, distance is no problem with online shopping. Delivery is made easy with recent innovations in travel technology. This makes shipping services accessible and cheaper as well. With these, you can sell to customers regardless of distance and time zones.

Gather analytics and insights


In this data-driven world, information is power. By arming yourself with the right information, you can identify areas where your business needs to improve and develop better customer service. This can also help you create smarter and more effective decisions on your business planning and strategies.

Some eCommerce software, nowadays, makes use of artificial intelligence to help gather insightful data. Its learning capabilities make them adaptable to the ever-changing behaviours of your customers, market trends, and your business’ sales and performance.One such software that uses artificial intelligence is Prefixbox. This eCommerce software is powered by an AI to help improve searches in your eCommerce platform. It does so by tracking user behaviours and learning from them to come up with better user experiences within your systems. You can easily integrate Prefixbox in any software in the e-commerce platforms list.

Compatibility across devices


Everyone is with their gadgets nowadays. In fact, a study by Reviews.org says more than 65% of the population are constantly on their mobile devices – as much as 160 times in a day. This means your eCommerce platforms should be flexible enough to be accessible in any kinds of devices in the future.

Thanks to technology, almost all kinds of devices can be connected to the internet. Users can visit any website they choose in their smaller, more portable devices. This means you must optimize your online shops so that it can still work on smaller screens.

As more and more eCommerce software platforms are connected to the internet, this makes it easier to leverage your brand across various devices. They can ensure that they are accessible to any types of screen and maintain a positive experience for your customers.

Increase in remote interactions


Almost everything is online nowadays. In fact, a survey by Statista shows that 59% of the global population are active users of the internet as of April 2020. The digital space has become a new avenue where they can interact with the outside world. This is where they connect with other people, work, order food, shop for new items, pay their bills and so many others.

Retail, for one, is part of the list of 20 biggest work from home companies from FinancesOnline. Business owners can now easily set up stores and run their operations online. This is mainly thanks to the different eCommerce software out there.

With the right software, you can maintain a connection with your customers. They can still browse through your catalogues or check out your services without having to go out of their homes. They can do away with travel time and costs, making your products and services more accessible and convenient to avail.

The future is now


Ecommerce is the future for businesses. As technology continues to advance, the digital space evolves into something more than just an avenue for communication. It has become a minefield of potentials and opportunities for businesses as well.

The world is gradually becoming more digital and global. Don’t let your company lose the race towards the future. Go ahead and check out the top eCommerce software. Explore which ones will help you navigate whatever lies ahead for your company. The future is now so you better keep up.

Paige TyrrellHead of Marketing – Prefixbox

Paige is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.

11 Ways to Optimize Your eCommerce Search Results Page Design (SERP)

11 Ways to Optimize Your eCommerce Search Results Page Design (SERP)

You might be thinking “Ok this seems like it could be helpful, but what’s a SERP?”. The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is the page that displays the query results. Aka, where customers find products to buy.

So it makes sense that the results should be listed in a logical order, with the first 5 products as the most relevant, but that doesn’t always happen.

Check out the 11 tips below to get started. 

Pages that aren’t optimized, can have some pretty bad results – if customers aren’t able to quickly find what they’re looking for on the SERP, they’ll abandon the site and take their business elsewhere. Optimizing your SERP is critical to increasing sales.

Generate SERP Pages Quickly


Users aren’t likely to wait long for the SERP to be generated, in order to prevent them from leaving your site (which hurts your SEO), be sure to have SERPs that load quickly. In addition to creating a bad user experience, slow pages also harm your company’s reputation.

Consider using AJAX to increase the speed of your search engine. AJAX provides a quicker, better search experience for users since only essential data is sent to the browser. It removes the need for a full refresh after users filter results, change views, or go to the next page – so your search is much faster.

Show a Breadcrumb Trail


Sort of like the one Hansel and Gretel left. A breadcrumb trail is the list at the top of the SERP that shows the searched term and any refinements made to it- basically, it shows users how they got to where they are.

If a user decides they want to change a refinement, this trail helps them navigate backward without needing the back button on the browser, which could delete the search and make them start from scratch, which no one wants.

Show Related Searches


Related searches are search keyword suggestions that appear at the top and/or bottom of the SERP. These help users navigate to other products with just one click.

By recommending products similar to the initial search helps users quickly find what they’re looking for and by providing complimentary suggestions, you increase average order values. A win-win situation.

Allow Result Sorting


You should automatically sort your results by an algorithm that puts the most relevant and popular first.

However, your web visitors might want to sort products in a different way, so be sure to give them options. Include filters that allow sorting by price, new additions, brand, or most relevant.

Don’t Place Search Results in Alphabetical Order


Users want to find the most relevant and most popular products, not a product that starts with a certain letter, so alphabetical sorting isn’t usually helpful.

The first results should be the products that receive the most clicks – the ones that provide the most value to the web visitor, not the ones that start with “A”.

Employ Delayed Loading of Images and Infinite Scrolling


Users prefer to scroll indefinitely, so infinite scrolling increases the likelihood that users will browse through your inventory.

Some users may be overwhelmed with all the results infinite scrolling provides, so it’s a good idea to implement delayed loading as a way to limit the number of results shown at once.It also increases the speed of your site.

If you decide to use infinite scrolling, this means that links commonly found at the bottom of pages can no longer be placed there. Adding another menu on the side or top panel is an easy way to relocate those items.

If you don’t want to use infinite scrolling, make sure you include a moderate amount of results per page (25 or 50), include an option to change the number of results shown, your paging options are clearly visible, and that you display the total number of results pages.

Use Fluid Filtering


If you decide to use infinite scrolling, you will need a filter menu that stays visible on the page no matter how far people scroll down.

The filter refinements should float alongside the product results while the shopper scrolls, so they stay continually available.

Format Your SERP


Have a cohesive theme for your results pages – all images should be the same size, fonts should match, don’t show product URLs, and decide if you’ll display results in a list or a grid.

Provide clear titles, use large images of good quality, and consider implementing quick view windows with add to cart options. Showing item prices and sale prices can also be a good idea if you offer discounts. Lots of things go into ensuring your SERP is beautiful.

It is a good idea to provide an option that lets users toggle between list and grid views or to change the number of option in rows or columns. Be sure to test these variables, so you can find what your users respond to best.

Have Dynamic Thumbnails


If users search for a black jacket, the jackets shown on the SERP should be shown in black – not another colour with black as an option. If users come looking for a specific item, you should show exactly that, so they don’t have to imagine how it would look or navigate to another page to find out.

According to Baymard, 54% of web shops don’t do this, so if you only implement one thing, let it be this and you’ll already get a leg up on your competition.

Have Alternatives when a Search Displays No Results


0-results pages are one of the worst experiences search users can have on your site. There are multiple ways to subvert this.

1. Place related keywords and products on the 0-result page so users can easily navigate to other products.

It’s helpful to style the text of these suggestions differently from the initial query, so the user can easily see it is not part of the original search. Simply bolding the original search term or using different colour can serve as a big enough differentiator. Make sure the “No Results” text is large and visible, so the users know you’re showing other related searches.

2. If you display results for some of the words in a multi-word query instead of the full term, but be sure to notify the user what you are doing.

Show a message that says “Your search returned no results, but here are some products for ____” or “Showing results for _____”.

3. Have a spell-check function that suggests correct spellings and provide a link that re-directs users to the appropriate products.

Analyze User Behaviour to Improve Results


People who use your search box provide a wealth of information, which you can use to improve the relevance of search results. That’s why having site search analytics is critical.

By analysing this data, you can see that users who search a specific term are more likely to click on a certain product – which becomes valuable when deciding how to rank products.

If your SERP is good to go, check out a few ways to optimize your search box.

Paige TyrrellHead of Marketing – Prefixbox

Paige is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.

Is Your Mobile Search Optimized?

Is Your Mobile Search Optimized?

Mobile is increasingly important, which means people are shopping on their phones more than ever (1/3 of all eCommerce purchases in the holiday season were made on smartphones).

Having a responsive website with an optimized mobile search is critical to your webshop’s success.

Since mobile pages are much smaller than their desktop counterparts, the placement of the mobile search, the format of the SERP, and the information you choose to provide all have a huge impact on mobile performance.

Check out the best practices below.

Make the Mobile Search Box Prominent


Search, in general, is important. But search on mobile is critical. Since there aren’t many navigation options on phones, the search box is the main way people find the products they’re looking for.

Whether your eCommerce store is an app or website, be sure to put the mobile search box prominently located at the top of the page.Your paragraph goes here.

Understand Users on Your Site


In order to create a great user experience on your site, you need to understand how people come across and use it. It’s important to track how long users stay on your site, how they navigate/which pages they visit, which features they use (your search?), and how they arrived to your site.

Be sure that your mobile site can also collect this data, so you can get a holistic picture of your customers. Once you have gathered enough data, use it for optimization so visitors can easily navigate and find what they’re looking for.

When collecting and analyzing this data, look to see if/how visitors use your sites differently. The behaviour of mobile site users can be very different from those who visit the desktop version. 

Optimize Search Result Relevance


Mobile screens are small. We all know that, but in terms of eCommerce this means you don’t get as much space to show relevant products to users as you do on the web.

People, in general, are unlikely to click to the second page of search results and even less likely to do so on mobile, so you have to be sure that the products you display first are the most relevant and the most popular.

If you find that users are clicking on the 7th or 8th product after executing a search, you should change your ranking until the first product is clicked most.

Clarify Misspellings


People mistype words frequently on mobile devices, so it’s important for your mobile search function to be able to decipher or automatically correct typos.

One way to address this problem is by creating synonym rules, which link words to show the correct products in case a word is misspelled.

Incorporate Autocomplete


Autocomplete suggests products that match users’ searches – it recommends products and keywords either immediately when someone clicks in the search box or after they type a few characters.

We recommend this full feature on desktop sites, but only recommend showing keywords on mobile sites/apps as there isn’t much screen space and product recommendations use too much of that valuable real estate.

By quickly recommending accurate keywords, Autocomplete lets users navigate easily to the product they’re searching for. It also drastically decreases the rate of typos on phones and tablets.

Show Succinct Content


Mobile screens don’t allow for many visuals, text, or for navigation links common on websites, so make sure the text and images you use add value to your shop. You should limit the content on mobile sites to only the essentials to ensure quick page-load times and uncluttered pages.

Try to keep the information for each product limited to a photo, the product name, and the price. Discounts and product descriptions can also be added, but keep the descriptions as short as possible. In order to have quick loading times, keep your product images small.

Have a Responsive Website Template


Responsive templates automatically reformat your website to fit whatever screen your visitors are using – including tablets and cell phones. Building a responsive website is a big task, but it has a big payoff.

Before you begin, be sure to think about all the specific requirements your site has and what you need to change for your mobile site.

Having a good mobile site is increasingly important, so be sure to spend time building and optimizing yours. A bad mobile experience can turn users away from your brand or make it seem like you aren’t technologically savvy.

Simply by having a good, responsive site you can avoid all this negativity and guide people easily to the products they’re looking to buy — which increases your revenue!

If you’re looking for other eCommerce site search tips, check out our post on optimizing your eCommerce search box or your SERP.

Balazs VekonyOnline Marketing Manager – Prefixbox

Balazs is an Online Marketing Manager at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. He’s a Budapest based marketing enthusiast, who’s interested in new technologies and solutions and believes in the power of search.

Ecommerce Site Search Solution Comparison

Ecommerce Site Search Solution Comparison

The search function on an eCommerce site is incredibly important because it directs shoppers to the products they want to purchase.

A great search engine will also reduce the amount of times a shoppers ends on a 0-results page When someone lands on a 0-results page, you’re telling them you don’t sell the product they want to buy.

Contents

Chapter 1

Ecommerce Search Terminology

Chapter 2

Basic Considerations

Chapter 3

Operational Details Explained

Chapter 4

Technical Details Explained

Chapter 5

Conclusion

Introduction


Having a great search is fundamental to a great webshop, but finding one that fits your needs can be difficult. 

With a host of different providers, unique terminology, and features to compare, picking an eCommerce site search solution can be a daunting task.  

In order to make the decision a bit easier, we compared some of the most popular operational details and technical details, so you can focus on what your site needs.

Chapter 1

eCommerce Search Terminology


eCommerce terminology can be a bit tricky, especially when different providers compare the same features using different names.  

Here, we’ve broken down the key features to look for, what they do, and why they’re important to your webshop. 

If you’re curious about the nuances of eCommerce search terminology, we’ve written an in-depth blog post that breaks it down for you.

Chapter 2

Basic Considerations


When you look at providers, you need to consider multiple things. 

Basic Considerations

  • How the solution leverages data
  • How it processes languages
  • How easy it is to implement

All solutions use data differently. You should look for an eCommerce site search solution that uses data immediately from an existing product feed and search user behavior, so it can start improving quality from day one. Most solutions need to work for a few weeks before they start learning.

It’s critical that a search can process language – otherwise it won’t show relevant results! 

There are multiple ways search functions can understand language – through synonym matching or Natural Language Processing. 

However, when you choose a solution, make sure it can understand you customers’ native language!

Dev teams are often busy, with multiple projects already lined up in a  backlog, so adding another initiative can be a point of contention. 

Make sure you find a solution with a light on-boarding workload, so you can get up and running in no time.

Chapter 3

Operational Detail Explanations


Here are a few operational details to think about when you compare providers.

Free trial


No one likes to pay for something and later realize it isn’t what they wanted.  A free trial is a great way to avoid this.

It’s always a good idea to look for an eCommerce site search solution that has a free trial, so you can test it out and make sure it meets your needs before fully committing. 

When evaluating free trials, look for one that, ideally, lasts for a month as the site search needs some time to make a measurable impact.

You should also make sure you have search tracking on in Google Analytics before starting a free trial, so you can see how your search improves after you implement the new solution.

Be sure to track both conversion rate and revenue from search users.

Integration Support


Most site search solutions claim they are easy to integrate, but they can still be a bit complicated.

When integrating a new solution, small details are important and there’s nothing more frustrating than spending time implementing a new solution only to find out it doesn’t work because of a small mistake.

By choosing a provider that offers integration support, you ensure your site search will be up and running in no time. 

The provider’s integration team is experienced and can help you integrate faster than if you were doing it on your own.

SaaS Solution


A SaaS solution is a software as a service solution. This means that the software is licensed on a subscription basis and is hosted by the provider. This is an alternative to an on-premise solution.

With a SaaS solution, you don’t have to worry about hosting costs. maintenance, or fixing the solution if there’s downtime, which makes your life easier. 

However, if you choose a SaaS provider, you need to consider a few additional things:

How many and where are the data centers?


Your site search provider should have multiple data centers spread across different continents.

Be sure to check that they have a data center located in the same continent or a time zone away – this helps reduce any latency in your search function.

What is their SLA?


SLA stands for service level agreement and is a commitment between and service provider and the end user that outlines the level of service the end user can expect.

An SLA will outline the availability of a certain provider; most companies have 99%+ availability, so use this as a bench mark. This availability refers to how often a solution is up and working throughout the month or year.

Multiple data centers help reduce the risk of downtime (when a solution is not up and running). Minimizing downtime is important so that shoppers on your site will always have the same experience.

Monthly Invoicing


Monthly subscriptions without a yearly contract help keep you in control of your spending.  

If you don’t choose a solution that has a free trial, try to opt for one that has monthly invoicing, so you can cancel whenever if you need to.

Chapter 4

Technical Detail Explanations


It can be overwhelming once you start looking at providers, so here’s some deeper explanations on key features to look for.

Detailed Search Analytics


It’s critical you choose a site search solution that has analytics. Even better if these search analytics are included for free! Regardless, analytics give you critical insight into important business functions such as:

  • If your new site search function has improved shoppers’ experience on your site
  • Search user engagement: whether users click on search results
  • What people on your site are looking for (popular keywords)
  • The language (keywords) your customers use (this can later be used in PPC campaigns)
  • 0-result search keywords and 0-result search rate

Customizable


Purchasing an eCommerce site search solution is a big investment, so you should get one you can customize. 

This means, it should be easily editable to fit with the look and feel of your webshop. 

You should also be able to mix and match different product modules (e.g.: autocomplete), so you can get exactly what you need without paying for what you don’t.

Language Independent


What good is a search box if it can’t process the language your customers’ search in? 

Nothing! 

It’s important your search can process your local language in addition to any other language your customers might search in. 

This is a basic function and nearly all major providers have this capability.  

There are some more nuanced language processing features related to how a search interprets and predicts queries.  For example, some platforms use Natural Language Processing while other solutions also have in-depth synonym management tools.

Synonym Management


Synonym management is a major problem in webshops. It’s rare that shoppers search the same terms you use to name your products. 

This is where synonym management comes in. Imagine someone comes to your shop and searches for “notebook” with the intention of buying a laptop, but all the laptops on your site are tagged as “laptop”.  

This customer will end up on a 0-results page and assume you don’t sell the product they want to buy, which means they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Imagine the frustration of losing money on products you sell, but people think you don’t! This whole problem could be avoided with synonym management. 

Synonym management allows you to tag products and keywords with relevant (synonymous) keywords and vice versa. This improves the search experience on your site.

While this makes a huge difference to user experience and your bottom line, it’s a lot of labor intensive work.

It’s something that needs to be done, so in order to get it done in a timely fashion (and not cause someone to hate their job), look for a site search solution that has sophisticated synonym management tools.

This might be one of the most important features to look for.

Autocomplete


Autocomplete is one of the most noticeable and important search functions. You should be sure your provider offers this! If not, they probably aren’t someone you want to go with.

Autocomplete is present in the search box and works to predict a shopper’s intent and recommends relevant and popular keywords and products.  Keyword, product, and category suggestions should all be present in your Autocomplete to provide shoppers with the best experience possible.

Autocomplete is just one way to optimize your search box. There are plenty of other best practices out there that can help you increase your search user rate and, in turn, your sales.

Related Keywords and Products


Related keywords appear above the products on the SERP and help shoppers refine their initial query with just a click and recommend additional products.

Related products can appear on the SERP, but should always be present on 0-results pages in order to suggest other relevant products to shoppers.

This feature is fairly common and is important in upselling and redirecting shoppers in case they end up on 0-results pages.

When looking at this feature (and Autocomplete), you should investigate how the solution provider determines which products to suggest.  For example, product popularity and relevance should be taken into consideration. 

2-Step Instant Search


This refers to how Autocomplete processes search queries. 

First, the user intent is predicted based on the most relevant matching keyword. Second, keyword and product suggestions are displayed. 

A search that functions this way shows more relevant suggestions. 

The alternative to a 2-step instant search is a search that simply looks in the prefixes of products without narrowing results down by relevancy, which often leads to a lot of irrelevant suggestions.

Chapter 5

Conclusion


Choosing an eCommerce site search solution can be hard, especially with all the different features and terminology out there. We hope our comparison guide and list of features and what to look for help you in your selection process!

If you have any comments or questions feel free to contact us at sales@prefixbox.com

Paige TyrrellHead of Marketing – Prefixbox

Paige is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.