While attending the Best eCommerce Tests webinar recently hosted by Anne Holland at whichtestwon.com, she referenced a Marketing Sherpa study about the behaviors of on-site searchers. A few key takeaways from those studies:
- Searching has become the predominant method for users to find products on websites. While navigation tools and site architecture are almost equally important, more and more, consumers are using your on-site search to find what they are looking for quickly.
- Searchers are almost twice as likely to convert as non-searchers in a given visit.
- More often than not, a vertical listing format on the search results page converts better than a grid layout.
Suffice it to say, the search results page on an eCommerce site is something that is of high importance and something that deserves your attention. Specifically, I want to cover how you can improve the performance of your site search within Magento Commerce – although the tactics can be applied to any eCommerce platform with similar capabilities – but Magento has some fundamental, out of box features to help you improve your search results.
Improving Magento Search Results
One of the great features that Magento Commerce offers above and beyond other eCommerce platforms in the small to mid market space, is the ability to actually modify and control your search results page. While, admittedly, these features do not compare with the advanced business intelligence and merchandising features of many enterprise eCommerce platforms (although it looks like Magento is moving in that direction especially with the enterprise product), they do nonetheless provide any online retailer some relatively advanced capabilities that allow you to control your destiny when it comes to the quality of your search results page. Here are some tips on how to improve your search results page in Magento to improve the conversion rates of your visitors performing site searches:
- Setup your products with best practices to begin with. Too many times I see merchants trying to take shortcuts when it comes to product data. They have 100 different models of virtually the same product so they plop everything in Excel and use that dreaded “fill down” feature for meta data. Take your time with your data, and be specific with each product and provide as much detail and information as possible.
- Configure your attributes to match the user behaviors of finding products on your site. Carefully analyzing which attributes are available via quick search, which attributes show in the layered navigation of the search results page, and even the sorting order of those attributes on the search results page (more important filters towards the top) you can craft your search results page with user friendliness in mind in a few simple steps.
- Leverage Magento reporting to know and understand what your users are searching for, and what results they are seeing. Identify high volume search terms, commonly misspelled terms, or any search terms that are not coming up with the correct amount of results
- Look at your Google Analytics data. That’s right, under the content tab, filter out content for any pages containing the text “catalogsearch” (any search results page in Magento, whether via quick search or advanced search has “catalogsearch” in the URL). This data should resemble the search reports you run out of Magento in terms of hits (at least relatively speaking), but the additional detail this provides is in the data nuggets that will help you identify the performance of individual search terms. Identify search terms with high bounce rates, high exit rates, or lower $ indices and improve those pages (see bullet point below).
- Probably the most important step in this process – modify your search results to make improvements. This is where Magento actually shines, in the ability for you to control what is actually shown to users when performing these searches (going forward). Let’s face it, automated logic to determine search results doesn’t always come up with the best results – just ask Google! The functionality in Magento actually empowers you, as an administrator, the capabilities to alter the logic, and improve it.
I’d start at your highest volume search terms first, working your way down, but go through the searches and analyze the results
Take action, add the necessary synonyms to include related products, adjust your product data so that products show up in the necessary searches, or even redirect a search phrase a specific landing page, category page, or even a specific product page (if applicable). The end goal here being is that just like you spend time properly categorizing your products, you should also spend the appropriate time in configuring your site search so that the best possible results appear, thus improving conversions and sales.
- Is your site returning the best possible products for that search term?
- Are there other products that should be appearing?
- Is there enough volume for that term to justify creating a custom landing page for a specific search phrase?
Extra Credit: Configure Google Analytics to Track Magento Site Search
Many people don’t even realize that Google Analytics can be configured to track and report additional data on the performance of your Magento site search, you just need to tell Google Analytics the querystring Magento uses (q) for search parameters.
How Well Does Your Magento Search Results Perform?
When you first put together your site, you probably spent a great deal of time organizing your site in terms of architecture, and navigation. Maybe you even went through a card sorting exercise to help you in those efforts. But ask yourself this – how long have you spent optimizing your search results in Magento? For most, the answer is none – beyond the original setup of product data and attributes. Magento empowers you to actually control your search results, and given the importance of these results as noted by many studies and researchers, you should be spending more time optimizing these results than you do organizing your categories. Let’s not forget, this is not intended to be a one-time fix, you should continually set aside time, to evaluate these results with the goal of continuous improvement and growth of sales generated from searchers on your site.
If you’re looking for someone to help you with Magento search results, check out our Magento services or contact us with the button on the right.