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Want To Step Up your Site Search? You Need to Read This First

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Jack Dawson
May 31, 2017

Jack Dawson
Jack Dawson has written 2 articles for JavaScriptSearch.
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If you've been operating an online sales site for a while, chances are you already know the potential value of a site search engine. You've probably already got one on your website, even if it didn't come with your e-commerce platform. You may also be wondering why it isn't bringing you the increase in sales you expected.

Can you identify with that? If so, you're not alone. Of all the add-ons available for your site today, a search tool should be one of the best investments. If your site search isn't living up to your expectations, I'm about to explain some possible reasons and how you can solve the problems.

What a Website Search Tool Should Do

To explain that claim in the previous paragraph, I'll start with a quick breakdown of what you should expect from an on-site search engine. The obvious purpose of having one available to your visitors is to drive sales. The strategy is to make it easy for them to find what they're looking for quickly, so they become buyers. It's about conversion.

There are a few features that online shoppers have come to expect from modern website searches. Among those are:

  • A responsive interface that's easy to use on multiple device types
  • A suggestion algorithm that starts showing them possible product matches with a few keystrokes
  • Typo correction and synonym lookup
  • Visual results
  • Search filters to help them narrow down results
  • Recommendations for related products
  • Speed

If your search tool isn't delivering all of the above, you probably should consider finding something new.

What if it's not the Site Search Engine?
Now, let's consider something else. Maybe the fault doesn't lie with that part of the sales process at all. After all, it's not the only tool you should have in your box. Consider these questions:

  • Do you KNOW what your visitors are looking for?
  • Do you HAVE what your visitors are looking for?
  • Can they see that you have those items immediately?
  • Can they SEE those products in the search results?
  • How quickly can buyers make a purchase when they find a product?
  • Can you easily see what's selling and what's not?
  • What products should you be promoting?
  • Are your promotions working?

That list probably includes a lot of things you don't normally think about in relation to your site search tools. That's okay, because they're part of a different aspect of online sales: merchandising. To run an efficient merchandising operation, you need to be able to use search and results data to drive your product placement, ordering, promotions and special pricing.

There are two key components required for using that data as described: a database for collecting, storing and retrieving the data and analytics to process it. With those in place, you can predict trends, test the relevance of your search results, determine what visitors want, and much more.

Take a look at your site search engine and see what it's doing with all that valuable data. If it's being stored, you should consider whether you can use it for more than just speeding up queries. That answer may be more important than you've thought, up to now.

How Much Does your Platform Matter?

Another point worth considering when you're thinking about upgrading your website search is the e-commerce platform you're using. With high-end platforms like Magento, WooCommerce and similar, it's usually best to find an add-on, plugin or extension that's compatible. Integration with these applications can be tricky and mistakes can be costly.

For less complex solutions like Miva and ASPStorefront, as well as custom-developed platforms, the same applies. It's critical to ensure compatibility and avoid the need to insert or modify code in order to get your upgrade working.
Downtime isn't a good thing for your online store. Unless you're a programmer/developer, make sure any additions or replacements you make can be done with minimal modification to the existing code.

It's also a big plus if the website search you choose looks like it's part of the store. Colors, fonts, layouts, etc. should match, so that shoppers don't feel they're being transported somewhere else. Sudden changes to the look and feel of the interface breed mistrust, especially with stories of fraud prevalent in the news.

What's the Best Solution?

Alright, so let's review this whole “step up” idea for your site search engine. To have the most positive effect on your conversion rate, you need more than the traditional search box. Here's what a complete solution for you and your visitors should provide:

For your visitors: A site search engine that enhances the user experience with:

  • An intuitive suggestion routine that shows results from the first keystroke
  • An algorithm that learns and suggests the most popular products first
  • Fast, cloud-based search functions
  • Instant thumbnails and descriptions in the suggestions and search results
  • Quick View buttons to display popup details.
  • Optional Add to Cart buttons in popups – no need to go to a product page
  • Synonyms and typo correction
  • Custom navigation panel to select categories, etc.


For you: An analytical and merchandising package, and a search engine configuration panel:

  • A search data database
  • Analytics to let you see which of your products are the most popular, what customers are searching for that you don't have, how your promotions are working, how visitors move through your site, etc.


  • Easy, safe installation: No programming required
  • A search interface that matches your site

The Bottom Line
There's simply no more powerful tool for an online shop than a responsive on-site search engine. If you're struggling to increase sales from your web store, the right one can boost conversions almost immediately. The fact is, however, a complete solution involves analysis and merchandising, too.

It's also extremely important to know that the solution you choose meshes seamlessly with your existing platform and won't require risky steps like code modification and/or insertion. In many cases, that will mean finding a customized application.

So, if you're thinking it's time to improve your website search, there's a good chance you're right. Just consider the information in this article in choosing and implementing the upgrade.

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