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SEO Has a Younger Sibling: It’s On-Site Search, and It Deserves Attention

January 08, 2017

By JP_Sherman

Posted by JP_Sherman

On-site search, also known as internal search, is a critical yet undervalued and underrepresented tactic in the search industry. In 2014,eConsultancy released a report that showed that 15% of companies dedicate resources to optimizing the on-site search experience, 42% fold on-site search into other online measurement responsibilities, and 42% of companies ignore on-site search. This report was released more than two years ago and after some extensive Googling, some Duck Duck Go-ing, and some slight Bing-ing, I couldn’t find any reputable site releasing similar, more recent, reports.

Wait a minute… Nearly 84% of companies don’t actively optimize or measure their on-site search?

Consider the following benefits of active on-site search optimization:

  • On average, 30% of visitors will perform an on-site search
  • When comparing revenue gained from people who performed an on-site search vs. people who did not perform an on-site search, the people who performed an on-site search generated more revenue than those who did not.
  • Performing an on-site search is a strong behavioral predictor of intent to convert:
    • People who perform a site-search are twice as likely to convert.
    • People who perform an on-site search are more likely to return to the site with an intent to purchase.
    • In the research, companies had an average overall ecommerce conversion rate of 2.77%. However, the conversion rate nearly doubled to 4.63% from people who used on-site search and found what they were looking for.

Data sources: eConsultancy, ConversionXL

It’s honestly surprising that, in an industry that focuses so intently on data-driven marketing and conversion optimization, we don’t put more effort into on-site search, harnessing users who are engaged and interested in our content and serves. My point is that for a tactic that can become an incredible force multiplier, there’s so little information on it.

Okay, okay, you’re kinda starting to rant. What are my first steps to understanding on-site search?

The first thing you need to understand before starting to optimize your on-site search is what data is being collected by analytics from your on-site search platform. For this exercise, it’s irrelevant whether you’re using Solr, the Google Search Appliance, or a baked-in search platform that came with your content management system.

Ultimately, the goal is to understand “Search Quality” by quantifying it:

When discussing quantifying on-site search, I tend to use the metaphor of resolution. I started playing video games as a kid and that’s continued to today. So, seeing little blocky characters evolve into something incredibly complex is a part of my experience. Clever designers were able to create experiences using only 8-bit resolution. As hardware grew more capable, 16-, 32-, and 64-bit consoles became more mainstream. Each generation of hardware supported greater resolution and the amount of visual information become more complex, more immersive, and more descriptive.

This is how I view measuring and quantifying on-site search. Start by understanding the basic metrics. Start with 8-bit resolution. This is where you’ll start seeing patterns emerge and behaviors evolve. As your experience grows, add more complexity to your metrics, look at …read more

Source:: Moz Blog