As ever, Grokdotcom has some useful e-commerce tips, this time on optimising site search results pages.
According to Daniel McGuigan, the search box can be the last chance to get a visitor to take action on your site, if they haven't found what they want through navigation, landing pages or your homepage.
This is certainly true, but some visitors may also use the search box as their first port of call if they have a particular product in mind when visiting a site.
According to recent figures for UK etailers from Coremetrics, 35% of visitors used site search in August, with a search conversion rate of 7.4%.
Here are some of Daniel's site search tips, along with a couple of our own...
Offer sorting options
Avoid putting customers off with long lists of results by giving them plenty of filtering options to help them narrow their product selection.
I would also recommend limiting the number of results shown on the page to a maximum if ten, even before sorting options have been applied.
An easy mistake to make, so Daniel recommends either linking to results for the term they probably meant to enter or providing them directly on the page.
Use search data to improve
An excellent tip, as site search can provide a useful resource for finding out more about your visitors. For instance, you can look at the terms customers are entering and use this to optimise your search results in future.
This is something that site search analytics expert Lou Rosenfeld touched on when we talked to him recently.
Offer options for failed searches
Daniel suggests offering similar products when searches draw a blank, or present links to featured / popular items if all else fails.
And some tips from E-consultancy...
Keep previous search term in search box
Keeping the original search query in the box when users are shown the results page means that they can easily revise and refine their search without the inconvenience of having to retype the whole term.
Show results from non-product areas
Some customers may be looking for information such as returns policies or delivery costs, as well as searching for products, so give them this information in the search results as well.
For sites which also offer related content such as technical information or other advice, showing this in site searches is also a good idea. For instance, in this search for a car seat, Mothercare offers articles about fitting, laws etc.
Tips on site search box design