E-commerce studies have shown that visitors who use an on-site search facility typically end up buying more than non-search users. In fact, acccroding to Kevin Lindsay, ex-Marketing Director of Mercado Software, on-site search could double or even triple conversions. Obviously, conversions depend on other website design and functionality factors, but providing and optimsing on-site search is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase conversions.
While there are no strict rules, there are basic best practices you can adopt for on-site search optimisation. Many of the ones mentioned here have proven successful for major e-commerce websites such as e-bay and Amazon.
Witout further ado, my 9 tips to optimise your on-site search experience for increased conversions…
1. Search Box Positioning
There are some online stores that still fail to understand how important it is to place the search box in the correct position on the page. If potential customers can’t find the search function within a few seconds, they could lose interest altogether. Generally, the search box is best placed in the top right hand corner of every page, clearly separated from text and imagery to avoid confusion.
2. Improve Clarity With Search Box Text
If your search box is competing with other page elements, such as registration forms or navigational links, visitors will find it more difficult to start their site search. Improve the usability of your site by adding a piece of text in the search box that acts like a signpost. For example, “Product search” will identify the box more clearly than if it was left blank.
3. Display Reviews and Ratings
Most large e-commerce sites have reviews and ratings displayed in their search results. Not only have they been shown to increase conversions, they enhance the site usability and overall shopping experience for visitors. People like to hear what others think of certain products or services before committing to a purchase.
4. Include Professional-Quality Thumbnails in Search Results
You will probably have noticed some online retailers using inferior-quality thumbnails on search results pages. Investing in good-quality photographs will strengthen the perceived value of your products and keep visitors browsing your site. Make sure images are clear, preferably enlargeable, and if possible, offer multi-angle views.
5. Test List Views and Grid Views
Some sites prefer to use a list view (which displays one product item per row) in the results pages. It may increase conversions, as it can include more detailed information, but less products can be displayed per page. A grid view, however, can show more products above the fold and on each page, which many e-commerce sites favour. You should ask customers which they prefer, and also split test the results of using each method.
6. Include an Auto-Suggestion Feature
Adding an auto-suggestion feature to your site can make your site even more user-friendly. It can help increase conversions by suggesting products the visitor may not have considered searching for, and point toward other products that are related, which may result in add-on purchases. A spelling suggestion feature can also help users find hard-to-spell products.
7. Test Quick Views to Increase Conversions
Many of the biggest online clothing and electronics retailers feature quick views – allowing visitors to view a more detailed description without leaving the search page. Considering some major e-tailers use this feature, it can make your website look more professional, and improve your brand and company credibility. Only split testing will demonstrate whether it’s worth integrating into your website.
8. Inadequate Search Results
If the customer doesn’t have the ability to browse by brand, category, price, size, and so on, you are limiting their ability to quickly find exactly what they’re looking for. Frustrating shopping experiences lead to visitors leaving your site to shop elsewhere. Again, where you position your search refinement options should be down to split testing. Combinations of left and top navigational searches, for example, might increase conversions the most.
9. Add Color Options in Search Results
When applicable, display the color options available for products. If you can configure the results pages to actually display their specific colour choice, customers can then visualise their products better, which can increase conversions.
As a reward for reading to the end of the article (well done!) here’s a final tip:
Many companies offer free trials of intelligent search technology for ecommerce websites, contact them. After testing various strategies, you’ll be able to see which on-site search features can increase conversions the most.
Apart from increasing sales, effective on-site search features will improve your website’s usability and give your customers a reason for shopping with you again.
Over to you…
Have you optimised your onsite search for better conversions? Do you have any more tips to add to this list? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below…