What's the weather like this evening? Google it.
When's the next train due? Google it.
Where you can watch that limited edition 4K re-release of Blade Runner? Google it.
Search engines like Google are integral to our daily existence in the 21st century.
They help us navigate the ever-expanding web to find exactly what we’re looking for, exactly when we need it.
Whether we prefer to use voice search, or go old school with a mouse and keyboard, we expect to be able to search your website for the content we’re after.
But this all goes without saying. What you might not be as aware of are all the benefits having a website search tool brings you – the website owner.
Let’s explore why offering search on your website is not only useful for customers, but completely invaluable for your business.
Get to know your audience
When someone uses your website’s search tool, they’re giving you insight into their wants and desires – the sort of insights most marketers only dream of. This data is gold dust and can help you shape your website to the needs of your audience.
As an example, let’s say you run a music blog. You tirelessly write album and gig reviews from across a variety of genres whenever you can. You eventually build quite a following of readers. But one day you look at your search engine’s statistics and – what’s this? – a majority of your visitors are only interested in your reviews of up-and-coming indie bands.
Being wise beyond your years, you immediately decide to focus your efforts mainly on covering the latest indie talent instead of wasting time with classic rock and proto-funk reportage.
The result? A burgeoning audience and more time for you to focus on achieving your goals.
Knowing exactly what your audience is looking for is even more imperative if you run an e-commerce site.
For example, imagine finding that huge numbers of people come to your website searching for a product you don’t offer. That’s a huge opportunity you could be cashing in on! Alternatively, you could save a ton on unsold stock by using your search data to assess your best-selling items.
When you implement a search tool on your website – and carefully analyze the data it collects – the opportunities are endless. It’ll help you get to know your audience in ways that just aren’t possible without offering search functionality.
Usability is king
As mentioned in the intro, we’ve been conditioned by Google to expect search functionality on almost any website these days. It’s a crucial feature from a usability perspective.
The usability of your site can have a significant impact on your profits: e-commerce shoppers convert almost twice as much when they use the search function. The question is, how do you encourage visitors to make use of your site search?
Firstly, it needs to look good. Forget about using out-of-the-box, watermarked solutions. You need to use a site search product that’s highly customizable, allowing it to both stand out and match the rest of your website’s branding.
Secondly, it needs to be fast. Like, really fast. Visitors who have to wait around for their search results are far less likely to make a purchase or continue browsing your site.
Finally, it needs to be smart – not just understanding the terms being searched, but the intent behind them. An advanced search engine like this will surprise and delight your visitors. Perhaps by offering similar content they may be interested in, or simply correcting their typos.
A prominent, easy-to-use site search will increase the overall usability of your website tenfold and improve the chances of your visitors converting. It’s a must-have.
With site search usage growing 75% year on year, there’s never been a greater opportunity to reap the benefits it brings.
You can use it to better understand what your visitors want, help them find it, and increase the chance of them making a purchase.
In this new decade, your website’s search tool is indeed invaluable.