Internal search on any eCommerce site is a beast all on its own. What if visitors searches return no results? Will they continue to search or did you lose your chance at a sale? With Google recently rolling out its Site Search feature, many of us are getting more of an idea as to how many visitors actually take advantage of internal site search, what keywords they use, and of course - the overall conversion rate for internal searches. Now that we have this info readily and freely available, it's time to start optimizing your eCommerce site's internal search! Read my top suggestions below:

Relevancy

If you can't give your visitors relevant results, they'll give up searching and leave your site - it's that simple. To get relevant results on eCommerce sites, ensure that your searches are based on keywords. You'll want these searches to return results of product pages, with category pages coming up as the fallback results. By showing the product pages as the results, you get users to click through straight to the product page.

The Results Page

The layout of the results page is the most important aspect of any internal site search. If you think you've got your search relevancy down to a science, then you're likely giving visitors the search results they are most interested in. But how are you going to display your highly relevant results?

I'm going to use an example of a simple looking search results page with good functionality and a nice, clean layout:

JC Whitney's Search Results Page - Click the thumbnail below to enlarge:

JC Whitney does a nice job of covering all the bases on their search results page:

Product Images - Don't just give your visitors a text-based result; show them an image
Description - Include a brief description to entice users to click through and learn more
Product Price - Make sure you include the price in the search results; this will help to qualify the people that click through to the product page
Add to Cart Button - Important call to action that benefits your site by being included in the results

Sorting Your Search Results

Sorting is an essential bit of functionality for all search results pages. It gives different types of shoppers the opportunity to find what they're looking for - bargain hunters will search for the lowest priced products, people looking for a specific name brand will search by alpha (abc) order, etc. The top sorting options are...

  • Relevancy
  • Price - Low to High
  • Price - High to Low
  • Alpha A-Z
  • Alpha Z-A
  • Best Selling Products

See how JC Whitney sorts their search results below - click the thumbnail to enlarge:

Narrowing Your Search Results

Once visitors make a search and are taken to your search results page, they may be overwhelmed by a large number of results. In order to help them find what they're looking for, you may need to narrow the results to something more manageable. The way in which you narrow your search results will depend largely on what type of site you have and type of products you sell.

JC Whitney chooses to refine their search results by "Make", "Model" and "Year" - since they're in the car parts and car add-ons industry, it makes perfect sense for them.

Click here to see an image of JC Whitney's Search Refinements

Pay close attention to your internal site search! Take note of how often its used, what users are searching for and what your site search conversion rate is. Also, you should run the same terms that users searched for yourself every once in a while. You can see the kinds of results they get and use it as a good platform from which to gauge the effectiveness of your layout.

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