Users have just a 50-50 chance of finding what they want from a website's site search function, which suggests that there is much room for improvement.
Econsultancy's Site Search Report, published in association with Funnelback, also finds that the majority (57%) of firms are planning to increase their investment in this area as they appreciate the value and benefits of effective site search.
For customers who prefer not to navigate and browse through a site, perhaps because they have a clear idea of what they are looking for, effective site search is vital.
Indeed, some stats have shown that conversion rates through site search can be up to 50% higher than the average. A Screen Pages survey of 39 e-commerce sites found that use of the search box results in an average conversion ratio of 2.4%, against an average of 1.7%.
Entering a product name or code into the search box indicates an intent to purchase, so an effective site search function which returns accurate and usable results can pay dividends.
There is also the added bonus of the data that is provided by user searches. This can provide a valuable insight into the minds of consumers which can inform improvements to site search, as well as other area of marketing, paid search strategies for one.
Site search budgets
The report has some excellent insights into companies' attitudes to site search and the resources which are allocated in this area.
More than a third of companies (37%) use site search technology which is free, and this number increases to 56% for companies with a turnover of less than £10 million. A third of companies (33%) say the cost of site search is included within other software fees.
Many seem to think site search technology is worth the investment, as those using specialist site search vendors are most likely to be satisfied. A quarter of these companies say they are very satisfied (25%) and a further 36% say they are “quite satisfied”.
Site search success rates
Users have a low tolerance of poor site search performance, and if they cannot find what they are looking for, they are likely to abandon the site and look elsewhere.
On average just 50% of site searches were successful, and 40% of responding companies were not even aware of the success rates. There is room for improvement here, as well as in the method of measurement.
It is clear from the research that many firms are simply not measuring the impact of site search. While some use analytics software to track conversions from site search, others are simply asking for customer feedback through contact forms, and many are not looking into this at all.
Use of site search data
According to respondents, the most useful types of insight they get from site search are finding popular search keywords and product trends, the most frequently cited insight.
The data from customer searches is also used to improve the navigation and general usability of the site, while others feed this into future SEO and PPC campaigns.
Despite the wealth of actionable data that site search can generate, only 7% of companies are sure they are efficiently learning from site search and distributing these insights across the business. Just under half (46%) are “partially” doing this, but 47% are not learning from site search at all.
Agency respondents have a slightly different take on this, with 31% saying their clients are not using site search data, but just 8% say their clients are doing this well.