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The Shockingly High Cost of Poor Site Search

Most organizations can improve their websites by implementing a simple 5-minute “hack”.

This hack works regardless of whether your website is focused on bringing leads and sales, providing customer service, or even if it’s your municipality’s website.

The hack is called site search.

Without proper site search, your website could be leaking sales or in other ways end up costing more than you realize.

Put simply a visitor who cannot find the information they’re looking for on your website is unlikely to convert – and similarly, customers who struggle to find solutions can also generate costly support tickets and calls.

Many businesses and website owners neglect site search, and even fewer give it the resources it truly deserves. This can end up costing them dearly.

Bad search likely costs you sales and leads – without you even knowing it

AG Consulting has discovered that visitors are most likely to use search when they’re looking for specific information, or when they can’t find what they’re looking for through regular navigation 1.

According to Forrester Research, half of all B2B buyers now create vendors shortlists based on information available on vendors’ websites – without ever communicating with anyone in the organizations 2.

If you don’t make the information easily available, these prospectors may never find the information they’re looking for, resulting in your company not making the cut. A lack of great site search tools could cost you sales and leads without you even getting the chance to make a pitch.

Search users are among your most valuable users

For ecommerce and transactional websites, search users are among the most valuable users to visit your site. Site search users are usually in the later stages of their own buying cycle. They’ve gathered the information they need, and they’re now comparing providers in order to make a purchase. In other words, they know exactly what they want, and they’re on a mission to find it 3.

eConsultancy reports of a study examining site search usage on more than twenty niche ecommerce websites 4. They found:

  • When search is used, it increases conversions. Average conversion rates across all websites measured in at 2.77% – but site search users converted at 4.63%. Site search is 1.8x more effective at producing conversions.
  • Site search users are also likely to buy more. 5.75% of all overall visitors used site search – but those visitors accounted for 13.8% of total revenue.
  • Additional research by BloomReach has shown that 15% of total visitors use site search, but these visitors account for 45% of all revenue 5.

Studies have also shown that it’s not enough to simply offer site search – you must offer customers a high-quality search experience, or risk losing them. Forrester reports that as many as 68% of shoppers would not return to a site that provided a poor search experience 6.

Potential customers can now use site search to evaluate your entire product offering, based on the information you offer online. Make sure they can find what they are looking for.

Good site search improves customer self-service and reduces costly support tickets and calls

A study by Parature showed that 84% of customers want to solve their own problems using search engines 7. They’re keen to use self-service to find their own answers, before reverting to raising support tickets or calling customer service departments. These can be costly and time-consuming – not only for your business, but for your customers, too.

Good site search improves your visitors’ ability to find the answers to their questions, boosting your customer support capabilities enormously. 41% of users have said the most important aspect of good customer service is getting issues resolved quickly 7. Site search gives your customers the tools to do just that.

Site search is also vital for public organizations

Site search is incredibly useful for business websites, but public organisations are also discovering the advantages of these tools. Public organizations and municipalities face an array of challenges when building their websites, including:

  • Providing up-to-date, accurate information for users
  • Making enormous amounts of informations accessible and easy to find
  • Cultivating a sense of trust with users

Giving users the tools they need to sift through these colossal databases and find the information they need is essential.

A 2012 study by Auburn professors found that, as with online businesses, if users can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to revert to ‘traditional’ means of communicating with a public organization 8, which can be extremely costly. Fielding telephone calls and dealing with citizens face to face strains limited budgets unnecessarily – considering that the same information and services could have been delivered online.

Good website usability has been proven to increase users’ trust in a governmental or municipal website. Site search is a vital part of that good web usability that creates a sense of trust and reliability 8.

Common site search mistakes

Despite so much evidence that shows how vital a good site search is, millions of websites still provide the most rudimentary search options for their customers. Some of the most common site search mistakes include:

  • Being unable to adapt to synonyms or alternative phrases for the same products. As many as 70% of site search tools require searches in the website’s own jargon.
  • Not having the ability to translate abbreviations or symbols. 6 in 10 site search options are unable to tell the difference between the word ‘inch’ and the inch symbol – “.
  • Autocomplete problems. Autocomplete or auto-suggestion tools can be great if used appropriately, but 36% of websites which use autocomplete have serious usability and relevance issues.

Keys to good site search experience

We’ve established that a great site search experience can increase revenue and reduce costly support tickets. So how can you make your users’ site search experience the best it can possibly be? 9

  • Make relevant results your priority. You should be aiming to ensure that users find the right results for their search on the very first attempt.
  • Understand the terms your users are searching for, and make provision for those.
  • Help your users to better formulate their search queries by providing templates or collections of pre-selected popular keywords.
  • Be sure to accommodate typos, spaces, punctuation, symbols, synonyms, alternative phrases and common spelling errors.
  • Don’t rely on your advanced search features to give users what they want – visitors shouldn’t have to dig that deep into your website to find what they need.

Sources:

  • http://www.agconsult.com/en/usability-blog/navigation-versus-search
  • https://go.forrester.com/blogs/16-02-10-how_self_service_research_will_change_b2b_marketing/
  • https://econsultancy.com/blog/65333-site-search-retailers-still-have-a-lot-to-learn
  • https://econsultancy.com/blog/62401-is-site-search-less-important-for-niche-retailers
  • https://www.bloomreach.com/en/resources/blogs/2015/11/site-search-is-sexier-than-you-think.html
  • https://www.forrester.com/report/Googleize+Your+SiteSearch+Experience/-/E-RES124541
  • http://paratureprod.blob.core.windows.net/wp-uploads/2015/01/StateofCustomerServiceReport_2014.pdf
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740624X12000706?via%3Dihub
  • http://www.humanfactors.com/newsletters/linking_and_searching.asp

Product updates – Now in real-time

Great news! We’ve launched a dedicated page where we list all the new AddSearch features. Most of the feature requests we’ve received lately have been related to the setup how to use AddSearch as a GSS alternative, so we’ve launched features such as a well-functioning paging to the Separate results page and a possibility to sort Search API results by date or relevance.

Head to the Product updates page and never miss our updates.

Introducing separate results page

As more and more customers are migrating from the discontinued Google Custom Site Search, we launched a highly requested feature: Separate results page.

An example website with traditional results page can be found from this link.

Separate results page is swift to set up. All you need to do is to add a simple search form to your website template and create a results page with only two required HTML elements. Full instructions can be found from our instructions page, but you can trust me on this one: As everything with Addsearch, also separate results page is quick and easy to set up!

As the traditional results page got launched, we have now three different ways to show search results. Pick the one you love most!

Fresh from the oven: Search API


We extended our REST API with a Search endpoint. This new endpoint makes it possible to create custom user interfaces on top of our lightning fast site search. With the REST API you are able to create unique result pages, queries for related content, search functionality for mobile apps and more.

Feel free to explore our documentation and as always, let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for additional features.

New Feature: Full re-crawl, or “reset the index”.

carparts-2

One of the most frequently received requests that we receive on our support channels is the request to perform a full recrawl of a customer’s site, or to “reset the index”, as some users also call it. After making large changes on your site (e.g. changing the domain name, changing the paths of the pages, etc) the search index might contain out-of-date content while our crawler catches up. In order to speed up this process, you can now manually request a recrawl for all of your pages. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your AddSearch account, and go to Settings.
  2. Underneath the second paragraph, click “Full Recrawl”. Done!

Please note: the recrawl will be initiated immediately, but depending on the size of your website, it can take a few minutes up to a few hours before the entire website is indexed. Also, the full recrawl create a heavy load on our system. Therefore, you can only perform a full recrawl once a week. After requesting one, our system will show you when you can request it again. If for some reason, you would require a full recrawl sooner, please contact our support at support@addsearch.com.

New Feature: PDF indexing

We are very happy to announce the release of a new feature: PDF Support, meaning that we can now also crawl and index your PDF documents. This was one of the most requested features, and offers obvious benefits to anyone who hosts multiple PDF documents on their site, such as installation manuals, technical support documents, product specifications etc.

Here is an example of how it looks:

PDF document search in action.

Sounds great, how do I get it?

PDF Support is part of the Plus Pack. So if you have a subscription with a Plus pack, it is now automatically made available. You can find it, if you login to AddSearch in the “Settings”:

PDF-support-setting

You only need to enable it. Please note: each PDF document counts as a separate page towards your plan’s page quota. Enabling this feature might cause you to exceed your quota. After enabling, it might a few hours before all of your PDF documents are properly indexed, and screenshots have been made etc. You can manually add a document quickly by going to “Settings” > “Content Recrawl”, and simply add the whole path there.

If it is not available to you, and you would like to have it, simply order the Plus Pack. If your are on an old plan, contact us to upgrade your plan.

New Feature: Earn Free Bonus Pages by telling your friends.

flock-edited

Are you happy with your AddSearch experience? Why not give you friends the same opportunity and earn some bonus pages while you are at it?  Or are you simply at the top of your current AddSearch plan?
Tell your Friends about AddSearch, follow us on Facebook & Twitter and we will give you up to 200 extra pages for free!

We have just released a new feature in the Admin Panel of your AddSearch account, that makes that possible. Here’s how it works:

1. Log in to your AddSearch account.

2. Click on “Earn Bonus Pages”, at the bottom of of the navigation menu on your left.

3. Follow the steps: like and follow us, tweet about @addsearch and e-mail some friends. That’s all!

Not just bonus pages!

By following us on Facebook and Twitter, you will also be the first to hear about new features, interesting news on site search and online business and the latest on AddSearch! So, if you are happy with AddSearch, or in need of some extra pages, go earn some bonus pages!

AddSearch to pitch on the LeWeb Startup Tour in Stockholm!

We are really happy to announce that we have been selected as one of Sweden’s eight hottest startups (even though we are from Finland:))! As a result, we have been invited to pitch at the LeWeb Startup Competition in Stockholm, which will take place on September 30th.

The top pitches will be in the fast-lane to join the Startup Competition finals at LeWeb’14 in Paris on December 9-11. LeWeb is (one of) the largest international conference for digital innovation, and is visited by thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, journalists and other tech enthusiasts. It would provide a great opportunity to create a name for AddSearch and meet a lot of interesting people and potential new users, so we really hope for the best!

If you happen to be in Stockholm, you can RSVP here. It will take place at the SUP46 meeting and co-working space at Regeringsgatan 29. The event starts at 5:00 PM and will close at 10:00.

Our CTO Antti Ala-Ilkka will speak at Reaktor Dev Day

We are very proud to announce that our CTO and founder Antti Ala-Ilkka will be one of the speakers at the Reaktor Dev Day, which will take place in Helsinki on the 26th of September 2014, at the Telakka Event Center.

Reaktor Dev Day is “a conference for developers by developers. It brings together the programming scene and its hottest speakers in a laid-back and friendly environment.” Antti will share his views on why speed matters on today’s web, and illustrate his ideas with some evidence from his practical experience, including the architecture of AddSearch. Here’s the short summary:

Warp speed! Why load times matter and how we are taking optimization one step further

Why does speed matter on today’s web? In this session, you will learn the answer through a number of real use cases. See how AddSearch manages to accomplish this and deliver a lightning fast search experience on any website. Our methods include geographically distributed server architecture, comprehensive caching logic and a variety of frontend hacks.

Get Instant Search for your WordPress Site – In Minutes!

AddSearch is an instant search for any website, and it works on all websites regardless of how the site is built. It’s fully mobile, and support desktops, tablets and phones. For the site owner, AddSearch offers full control of the search results, and extensive analytics. AddSearch is also very easy to install, and requires copying just one line of JavaScript code to any site; there’s nothing else to do.

Now if you’re a WordPress user, it’s even easier to get instant search for your site. You don’t need to copy even that one line of code. Instead you can simply install the new AddSearch WordPress plugin, and we do the rest: there’s no maintenance or hassle.

First, sign up for AddSearch on our home page. We’ll create a demo of your search in minutes, and you can see what AddSearch would look like on your site. After you’ve created the demo, follow these easy instructions to install the WordPress plugin.

AddSearch is hosted in high availability hosting centers around the world. We detect where your users are, and serve the search results automatically from the nearest location. Our service scales to high traffic levels and very large amounts of content without any effort from your part. AddSearch is also fully mobile; the user interface detects the user’s device automatically, and adapts accordingly. You install AddSearch the same way whether your site is responsive or mobile/desktop specific.

AddSearch is free for sites up to 100 pages, with limited features. If you’ve got a website larger than that, or want to take advantage of our Google Analytics integration and other advanced features, paid plans are available starting at $9/month; see complete pricing information. And if your site has over 100,000 pages, please contact us for pricing information; we can handle sites of any size, and with any levels of traffic.

We’re constantly developing the WordPress plugin, and are also looking to add direct AddSearch support to other web platforms. If you want to suggest new features or platforms, or if you run into any issues using our WordPress plugin, feel free to drop us a line via email, Twitter or Facebook – all feedback is highly appreciated!