Site search has proven itself integral to reaching higher conversions on websites. Nowadays the question is not whether you have a site search function but rather how well it is working.
In the next decade, site search options will be going through some vast changes. For 2022, just as in 2021, the emerging site search trends appear to be focused on making the user experience more intuitive and accessible. Keep reading if you want to know where the site search industry is going, how it could affect your business, and how you could use a site search solution to get even more customers.
1. Voice search will become even more relevant
Voice search is already an integral part of our daily lives: we ask Siri where the closest gas station is or say “Hey Google, which Thai restaurant is the highest rated in my town?“ At the moment, optimizing for these kinds of voice searches is recommended especially for eCommerce or websites whose users are likely to have their hands full. For example, if you run a recipe blog, you want your users to find the answer on how long to let the dough rest without having to type with their potentially dirty hands on the phone.
Similarly, you want your site search to work for voice search queries if your users have short and clear questions. When you’re running a local business, you want your search to be optimized for the most common queries (to find out more about how to optimize for voice search, check out our blog post on “Why Voice Search is the Future of Site Search”).
What is the future of voice search?
One clear site search trend is that voice search will become even more important in the future. According to a market research report from OC&C Strategy Consultants, voice-assisted purchases will reach $40 billion by 2022 in the US alone. Another source, Juniper Research estimates that by 2023, voice commerce will reach $80 billion worldwide. The best part: voice search usage is highest among affluent, well-educated consumers. If this customer group is your ideal client, you really want to focus on optimizing for voice search.
Soon it will even be possible to offer voice search as a part of your internal site search. While it’s currently mostly used by tech giants, using speech recognition for your website is possible and will become even easier to implement in the future. But at the moment, voice search within your website is rather a nice-to-have than a must-have feature.
2. Your site search can no longer offer zero results pages
Your site search will always have keywords that you might not instantly have a result for. If you’re running an eCommerce store and someone is looking for “Ralph Lauren winter shoes” but you are currently only offering summer shoes by Ralph Lauren, they could potentially open up on a zero results page.
A zero result page for your user means a lost client for you. But what seems like a problem can be a great opportunity to increase your revenue. Let’s go back to our example. In this case, you cannot offer your user Ralph Lauren winter shoes. But you can show them results for other relevant products such as summer shoes by Ralph Lauren or winter shoes by other brands.
While it’s vital to state that nothing could be found for this particular query, you can also suggest popular products and categories. Even better: utilize your user’s browser history and prior search behavior to offer a personalized suggestion – which leads us right to trend number three.
3. Search will become more personalized than ever
A couple of years ago it was still enough for site search to offer results when you type in a keyword. Ideally, it would have recognized typos and offered autosuggest.
But site search is becoming more personalized than before. Many websites are serving different kinds of end-users with various profiles and interests. It’s vital to have personalized search experiences for each of these user groups.
You might be offering your products or services both B2B and directly to individual customers. These users have different needs when it comes to information.
For instance, an HR person looking for a management solution for their company would want to see different content than an individual looking for a project management tool for their freelance work.
Why you need personalization
With personalization, you can offer relevant results for each user based on their preferences and prior search behavior. Going back to our example, an HR person might have already downloaded a pdf targeted towards HR managers on the website. Based on their behavior, they would get assessed as a B2B user and can get more B2B oriented results in their search.
Customers increasingly care about the experience they are offered on a website. 80% of customers find their experience with a company is equally as important as its products and services. It’s vital to offer them an intuitive and clear way to navigate along with your page.
4. Site search will feel less like search and more intuitive
A good site search is the one you do not even think about as a user. You use it so intuitively that you don’t need to assess what you are doing – you just do it. In 2022, site search will look even less like classical search.
For instance, search engines are capable of suggestions based on your prior behavior and search results. As a vegetarian looking for a new recipe, meat-free options will appear as suggestions for you. Instead of having to type into a search field “vegetarian pasta”, the website will offer you recipes that fit your diet.
What suggested content looks like on Amazon.
A similar trend is currently emerging in eCommerce where you do not have to type in a keyword anymore to find what you are looking for. In addition to using the classical site search widget, you have the opportunity to navigate through the user interface.
For example, when you open a website of a retail shop that sells clothes, you might click through categories such as “women” and “men” or “dresses” and “pants”. You’ll be able to filter the results by price, availability, colors, etc. until you find what you are looking for. Instead of typing in a keyword, you would be guided through the page intuitively.
Going back to our third trend, site search will look more intuitive the better the personalized experience is integrated into it. Ideally, your website integrates both classical site search and intuitive navigation experience with filters.
5. Site Search will need to be more accessible
Creating an intuitive experience for your users means thinking through the accessibility of your site and site search experience. Accessibility can make the difference in usability that you need to engage your audience. This can range from ensuring that customers around the world are able to interact with your search UI to avoiding the loss of user confidence and trust created by low contrast text.
The lower screen real-estate in mobile devices is another factor promoting the importance of search. Content must be prioritized within the limited available space, making search an even more essential element in the design of mobile-optimized UIs,
The development of better assistive technology like screen readers is also opening websites up to more users. This opens your products to a wider variety of potential customers but brings accessibility challenges as they interact with your content in different w8ays. Search can help cut through the clutter and will become increasingly important in ensuring access to diverse audiences.
6. Search will assist with users’ need for social proof
Your website likely already offers social proof, since 77% of online customers use star ratings to help them make a purchase decision. The ability to customize your site search suggestions and search results using ranking tools can make the reviews more visible. It can also reduce cognitive friction, and make sure your most popular content or products are seen by prospects who are just exploring your site.
The ability to use promotional banners in search results to highlight popular products can also increase conversions by enhancing customer confidence in the ‘correctness’ of their choice.
This trust is enhanced by the transparency created when your visitors are able to access and look through a variety of sources, such as reviews, blogs, and FAQs right from your website’s search bar.
7. Search will (continue to) actively support e-commerce
Global e-commerce retail is expected to reach a value of $6.3 trillion by 2024. Given the worldwide shift away from brick and mortar stores toward either hybrid or online fulfillment models, consumers have more options and more content to search through.
As observed in the third trend, search is adapting to this growth by employing machine learning and artificial intelligence to learn from customer behavior.
The search analytics that you get from site search will allow you insight not only into seasonality but also into consumer wants and trends. This presents an opportunity to constantly keep your customers’ needs at the center of your business strategy.
8. Site Search will support users through chatbots and conversational widgets
Chatbots are incredibly popular on many websites. They are a great tool for lead generation and guiding customers through your pages. According to Drift’s 2020 State of Conversational Marketing report, the usage of chatbots as a brand communication channel increased by 92% from 2019 to 2020: 24.9% of buyers used chatbots to communicate with businesses in 2020, compared to 13% the year before.
After all, chatbots are available 24/7 and are never annoyed or tired, unlike their human counterparts. Most customers enjoy working with chatbots; more than half of internet users are satisfied with them and around 60% of millennials already use them regularly to purchase basic goods.
How chatbots work
Chatbots search through the website and offer results based on the website’s search index (find out more about indexing). The user is not aware that they are using site search, even though the site search provides relevant information through search indexing and a chatbot.
Chatbot at AddSearch guides you towards the info you need.
For example, a real estate agency might offer a chatbot that asks users questions such as “How many bedrooms are you looking for?” or “What is your price range?” or “Are you interested in a house or an apartment?”. All of the information is already indexed, so the chatbot can offer relevant suggestions for the customer.
While chatbots give the answer to the client, the underlying technology used in this case is site search. Going back to our example of the real estate agency, a user looking for apartments in a certain area, can get a pop up from the chatbot when a new apartment in this area just came on the market.
Sounds all a bit too technical? Thankfully, our next trend takes a little bit of your headspace away from tech and lets you focus on supporting your users.
9. Site search providers will offer more elaborate ready-made tools
This is ideal for any company, from small to enterprise, that does not want to waste any time and personal resources on hiring a developer to code and customize their site search tool.
Site search companies like us at AddSearch will provide even more ready-made tools and example code for their customers to offer great search results with smaller effort and a smaller amount of resources. So far, ready-made tools offered simple solutions like a search box. To implement a more sophisticated and customized user interface, a customer used to code a search by themselves.
More and more complex solutions are now available inside the tool libraries of site search providers. They offer a custom experience for the user without the need for doing the custom design work.
Now you can provide great search results – minus the struggle of having to code yourself. For example, you can easily offer a variety of user interface components such as price filters or category filters when you run an eCommerce site.
The options to control your search are going to be much more elaborate than they used to be. In addition to all that, you can adjust your site search rankings based on your business needs (e. g. offer the most profitable products first or the ones with the biggest gross margin).
Needless to say that these ready-made tools and tool libraries cut down expenses and time-to-market for your products.