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Why and how you should optimize onsite search in a stalling economy — 12 rules of thumb (p.1)

10 August 2021

A few weeks ago, I hosted my first webinar, “Why and how you should optimize onsite search in a stalling economy — 12 rules of thumb (p.1)”. You can now access the replay as well as the transcript below.

Webinar Transcript

Hi there and welcome to Sooqr HQ for our new webinar, this time about the how and why you should optimize onsite search in a stalling economy. I’m going to give you 12 rules of thumb in two webinars. And this is part one where I will give you the first six.

My name is Erik Keegstra, and I’m the Founder and Head of Product here at Sooqr. I’ve been in the business of eCommerce and especially site search for over 10 years now. Let’s give it a go.

The Dutch market for eCommerce has grown tremendously over the last few months. Everybody had to stay home, so everybody started ordering online. And during the Easter weekend, we saw an increase in revenue of 72%. That is amazing. I’ll give you some examples of what we see on our side:

  • Kookwinkel Oldenhof, who sells kitchenware (restaurants were closed and people needed new pots and pans): they doubled the number of searches on their website. 
  •, a pharmacy (people were looking for masks and disinfectants): they had a huge spike in searches. 
  •, a garden center (people stayed at home. They either had finally the time to work in the garden or they wanted to make it a better place to stay): they had a plus of 150% in searches. 

So, when I’m talking about searches I mean onsite search. Not Google. They lead new visitors to your website. But I’m talking about the search bar within your webshop. So, why is site search so important and why should you start working on it? Let me tell you: 

  1. 43% of users that conduct a search will use your search immediately, no clicking, no browsing, just searching. 
  2. Every second a visitor has to wait for a query or results to load 30% leave. 30% every second. 
  3. And those searchers could make you 46% of your revenue. Even if it’s just 4% of people actually searching on a website, they still could make up 46% of your revenue, as they have a high buying intent.

The larger the catalog, the bigger the need for an optimized site search. A little bit about your site searchers (Forrester Research found some amazing numbers, and we experienced exactly the same with our clients): 

  1. People searching are more than 2x more likely to convert
  2. They are 5x more likely to return
  3. They will visit 4x as many pages as any other user. 

You could actually be generating more than 50% more conversions through an optimized onsite search. 

So, how is the eCommerce industry doing? Not too good:

  • 3 out of 4 shoppers bounce due to poor onsite search experience
  • 32% of webshops don’t support multiple filters
  • 34% of eCommerce sites don’t allow searching for a product name

In my two webinars, I will give you a total of 12 onsite searches tips. Let’s get started.

1. In plain sight

Make sure your search bar is in plain sight. Don’t let your visitors search for your search bar. Don’t use an icon to open it, just have a search bar in plain sight. Make sure it’s big enough for a complete query and put the search bar on top or on the lefthand side of your website. Remember, people that search and find are way more likely to convert.

2. Seeing is believing

Placeholders will make the search more actionable for your visitors and are really easy to implement. Tell your visitors what they can look for or provide an example query that might trigger visitors to actually use your search more often.

3. Instant gratification

On average, visitors only look at the first six to eight items, where the first two get the full attention. So, make it relevant and make it quick. People don’t like to wait. It’s 2020. This might not be a quick fix, but it’s most definitely paying back. Like we see with Claudia Strater: when we search for “dress”, we actually find dresses. No other things. No irrelevant products. Just dresses.

4. Don’t get rid of the query

Leave the query on the page. Visitors might like to change or refine it. Make sure it’s right there in your search bar. This is also an easy fix. Ask your developer or agency to keep the query in the search bar. Or maybe you can do it yourself.

Now, we move on to the smarter, conversion-boosting features. These are a bit harder to implement, but they will be boosting your conversion for sure. 

5. Synonyms

Because jeans are trousers, aren’t they? Your visitors might use different words for the same product. A bike could be a bicycle. A book could be a paperback. A shoe could be a boot or a pump or a sneaker. Make sure you store the queries that didn’t give any results, so you can use them to set your synonyms. And make sure you do this on a regular basis (like every two weeks). Don’t leave money on the table, use synonyms.

A little example from our customer British Corner Shop: People are looking for bleach, the product name, or Clorox, the brand name. Both lead to the same product, as they were added as synonyms by British Corner Shop.

The average order value within search could rise by 80% after optimizing your synonyms. This graph shows the impact on search after adding the synonym. The red line is the number of times a query was searched for but didn’t give any results. Blue is the number of times the query actually found a product. On day 15 the eCommerce manager decided to add the synonym. And now the word actually shows products ready to be sold. 

6. Autocorrect & Error-tolerance

Making a typo is easy. Make sure your site search has an auto-correction. If not, you’re missing out. Here we see someone not typing the exact query as it should be in this example. Normally this would be a query without results, but the system automatically corrects it and finds a word close to the query that does actually give results.

These are the first six tips. In the next episode we’ll cover more essential things like ranking rules, filters, lazy loading and content search and the more advanced, conversion-boosting features like clickrank and promotion rules. And remember, you could be generating more than 50% conversion growth through optimized onsite search.

Here at Sooqr, we made a little test for you to check your current site search. It’s free and it might give you some valuable insights. Just visit and give it a go.

I hope I gave you some valuable information. And whenever you have questions, feel free to send us an email.

That wraps it up. I hope to see you next time. Have an amazing day.

Ready to give it a try? Try Sooqr now for a full 30 days free of charge (no credit card needed).

Thanks for reading!

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