If you’re finding that your website is drawing a lot of traffic but not resulting in many conversions, downloads, or much engagement overall, it might be time to start looking into why.
There are many ways to determine if you’ve been driving enough traffic and increasing retention on your website. One extremely important aspect of your site that can enhance a visitor’s experience, make them stay longer, and even turn them into a repeat visitor is Site Search.
While at first glance it may just look like a search box, in reality it’s so much more. Visitors come to your site looking for information, whether it’s about products, a news article, or even a prospective student checking out your curriculum. If they don’t find the information right away, chances are they’ll try to search for it rather than go crawling through your site.
But if your site search experience isn’t great, it can cause a lot of headaches (on both your side and your visitor’s) and cost you in overall traffic and engagement. Here are some things you should be tracking and tweaking regularly to reduce those headaches, and make your visitors’ site search experience as smooth as possible:
- Top searches - If you can easily see what visitors are searching for the most, you automatically know which pieces of content are the most popular. Whether it’s a blog post about Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars, or North Face’s new triclimate jacket, once you realize what it is people want the most, you can update your site to make the popular content more accessible. It’s critical to make sure visitors don’t spend time searching for content and instead finding what they’re looking for quickly.
Alternatively, you can use this metric to determine how unpopular a particular piece of content is.
Percentage of sessions with searches - Because visitors who use your search features are already highly engaged, if you can drive more traffic to your search bar, you will be able to increase engagement and the time spent on your site even further. Plus, if your search experience is enjoyable, visitors will take note and continue using this valuable tool.
Total website pageviews - Sometimes, after you’ve invested in a good search tool, you will see this number decrease. But don’t worry! While the total number of pageviews may have decreased, you should weigh this number against the total time spent on a page. More often than not if a visitor is able to find what he’s looking for in fewer pages, he’s likely to spend more time on your site.
Time after search - If you find visitors are spending more time on your website after they’ve completed a search, that’s a good indicator you’re doing the right things with your site search. Plus, if visitors are spending more time on site after a search, your overall average time on a website should increase across all visitor data.
Searches with no results - Sometimes a search fails to return results. This can be for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- The content that visitors are searching for doesn’t currently exist on your site. If you find a lot of visitors are searching for the same thing and returning no results, this is a good opportunity to create a piece of content that would satisfy those queries.
- You might have the right content, but find that people aren’t using the same terms to refer to that same piece. This can be somewhat attributed to linguistic differences across region, age group, etc., and can decrease engagement with your website. The ability to create synonyms that maps these terms (e.g. “pop” = “soda”) will help your site appeal to all audiences.
- It’s also possible that your content has been tagged incorrectly, so if you find people are searching for “hooded jacket” but getting no results, when you know very well you have a wide variety of hooded jackets, it’s a possible sign of mis-tagged content.
- Clickthrough data - After identifying what people are searching for most frequently, it’s often beneficial to drill deeper to determine which results from your top searches visitors are actually engaging with. This can give you a better picture of what is actually resonating with your audience, allowing you to see what works
- Searches with no clickthroughs - Sometimes, you might find that a search query will return a variety of results but none of the results were clicked through. This can be an indicator that users aren’t finding what they’re looking for, and could be an opportunity for you to enhance your search experience so that content is more relevant to a user’s query.
- Searches resulting in multiple clicks - If a single search query results in multiple clicks through different pieces of content, it’s not necessarily a good sign, but it’s also not necessarily a bad sign. It can be an indicator that your rankings haven’t been optimized to show the most relevant information as early as possible, but it can also be an indicator that you have a lot of great content on the same topic that the user would like to see.
As you can see, there are many ways to track and tweak engagement, accessibility, and improve the overall quality of your search experience. There are actually quite a few more ways, but I think I can hear the orchestra playing me out at this point so I’ll wrap it up.
We all want to increase engagement and retention. Investing in great site search makes it possible.
Swiftype is the leading provider of search for websites and mobile apps, currently powering search for over 500,000 websites and applications across a wide range of industries—including major corporations Qualcomm and Dr. Pepper, leading publishers CBS Interactive and AOL, and top online retailers BulbAmerica and Sparkfun.
If you are interested in finding out more about Swiftype, please reach out to the Americaneagle.com Partnership Team, via firstname.lastname@example.org