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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-results 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!