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Don’t Make Your Users Struggle: Simplify On-Site Searches


January 24, 2024


Site search

Significance of a User-friendly On-site Search Experience

The existence of a precise and streamlined search feature will enable users to find what they want. When a user tries to find a specific document (or media article), they have an exact topic in mind. If, after a few tries, the search engine doesn’t find the article the visitor needs - they may leave your site. Therefore, your site search will improve overall user engagement and satisfaction. Although site searches are mainly based on keyword search, the current AI push will bring more meaningful and connoting results, i.e. instant and personalized search results.

Understanding User Search Behavior

Relevance is a very sought after concept in search engines, but it’s rather complex to measure, as there is a degree of subjectivism in the definition of relevance. Understanding the user search behavior as an AI endeavor is of crucial importance. You should decide which behaviors (events) you will track and the website logic will monitor the user’s actions (clicks and navigation). This means to integrate short code snippets in your frontend that will record your user’s actions. Also, the site search functionality can provide the meaningful steps for you to uncover the users intents and desires.

Common Search Interface Problems

Many search interfaces have drawbacks in the search design that lead to user frustration. Here we will list some of these common pitfalls:

  • Poor layout – placement of website elements, including the search bar.
  • Slow loading of results
  • Complex navigation – confusing the users
  • Improper colors, bad contrast, low-quality images
  • Poor responsiveness - messy display on mobile devices
  • Too much text – this may divert users to other websites

Best Practices for Simplified Search

Search tools available on your website can provoke users’ interest, leading them to satisfying experiences, content, and products. Since they will continue to engage with your website -  their clicks could bring you additional value. Here we list 5 best practices on how to utilize Omnisearch to improve your site search results:

  1. Organizing your data (pages).  Having a bunch of text with all the information won’t create relevance. In order to achieve better relevance you have to organize your data properly. You should implement proper site organization with folders, files and links. You should split up and organize the content objects with attributes - so the search engine can rank the matches in preferred order.
  2. Improving the UX. Research shows that customers need not only good search, but also great navigation and UX to find what they need on a website. The search bar is the main point for users to engage with your website. You can improve the overall look-and-feel by placing the search box in plain view in a central location. All sub-pages should have the search bar in exactly the same location.  
  3. Setting-up a proper results page. The results page should be comprehensive, easy to read, and predict user needs - without being crowded. The search bar should be present on the results page, so users can refine or change their query. The search terms could be highlighted within the results. A “no-results page” should be avoided; instead redirect the users to products or content to help them convert.
  4. Optimizing for relevance. Relevance is a long-term concern, so you should consider specific queries with relevance issues over time. You should always consider the big picture in mind, and not optimize your relevance for a specific query. Your setup should allow you to efficiently test your modifications on the whole set of query logs ensuring you won’t reduce the relevance of other queries.
  5. Analyzing your search data. When a user uses the search option, they generate valuable data you can use to analyze their intent. Site search data can help you test the quality of your search bar component, unveil important keywords, and give you insights to improve conversion rates. Content-rich sites (e.g. media sites) can identify content gaps - topics that users are searching for, but that are missing - and fill them.

Implement Your Own Site Search

Omnisearch tools can significantly improve your online platform, and increase overall visitor satisfaction. We provide a free Search Audit Demo that will help you elevate your search performance and unleash the true value of your business. We will advise you on multiple factors for designing a simple and effective on-site search:

Technological Consideration – to implement a successful site search we have considered several technical factors:

  • API, plugin or module development - able to search within different content types and fields, faceted search, and the ability to tag important pages with relevant search terms.
  • Storage and organization of data (local server, or cloud).
  • Multimodal search, including not only textual search results, but also finding images, audio segments, video sequences etc.
  • NLP technology that will facilitate semantic search.

Implementing Search Features – the important site search features should include:

  • Filtering and faceted search filtering. Filtering means including specific areas from some domain in the search results and excluding others.
  • Identifying primary search use-cases in order to pin or weight certain types of results.
  • Indexing PDF-s, Word docs, audio and video files. Search within diverse sources of information.
  • Indexing behind a login - Omnisearch can crawl and index content that requires a login and password just like Google Search Appliance.
  • Auto-complete / auto-correct feature.
  • Providing a Search API which can be integrated into your own applications. This is a direct way to integrate modern search capabilities into your website or application.

User Feedback and Continuous Improvement - User’s feedback can be gathered in multiple ways: surveys, questionnaires, feedback widgets, heatmaps, session recording, website analytics, users acceptance testing etc. The better you understand how people are using your site and what information is most valuable to them, the more efficiently you will fine-tune your search and provide a smooth experience. The goal of continuous improvement is to provide you insight into user interest and browsing behavior. These findings will help you discover what changes are needed to provide more value to your user base.

Expected Benefits – there are multifold benefits of implementing a quality site search and they include:

  • Achieving excellent customer experience
  • Boosted conversions and orders
  • Possibility to conduct analysis of user’s data
  • Ensured reduction of your bounce rate
  • Planned website growth.

By partnering with Omnisearch – you will elevate your content search capabilities, enabling visitors to instantly access relevant information. The increased engagement will enable users to effortlessly explore your content, products and services, ultimately fostering growth.

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