How To Choose a Site Search Tool: 12 Must-Have Features
By Donna-Marie Bohan
We've all been there: You visit a website, eager to find a specific product or piece of information, then type your query into the on-site search bar, and...you see a mess of unrelated results. Or worse, nothing comes up at all. It's like asking someone for directions and learning all about their favorite cake recipe instead. Frustrating, right?
At the heart of this exasperating experience lies the crucial, yet often overlooked, component of a website: the site search tool. But what exactly is a site search tool? Think of it as the website's internal search engine that helps visitors locate the information or products they're seeking on that particular site. Just as we've grown accustomed to the lightning-fast, pinpoint accuracy of Google, Amazon, and even advanced models like ChatGPT, there's an expectation for that same efficiency on every website we visit.
Why does this matter for businesses? Research has repeatedly shown a direct connection between effective on-site search functionality and conversion rates. Visitors who use site search are, more often than not, high-intent users. They know what they want, and if your site delivers quickly and accurately, they're more likely to convert.
Just as consumers wouldn't settle for less-than-precise answers from Google or Amazon, they expect no less from the websites they frequent. As they say, the devil’s in the details. So, if you're on the hunt for the best site search tool, or merely curious, this blog post will deep-dive into the 12 must-have features to ensure your website's search experience is nothing short of exceptional.
Imagine walking into a boutique where everything from the floor tiles to the ceiling fixtures screams you. In the digital realm, that's what design customization in site search tools achieves. It ensures that your site's search feels seamlessly integrated, both functionally and aesthetically, with your brand's unique vibe. The truth is, while the look and feel of a search tool might easily be brushed aside, it plays a pivotal role in user experience.
Now, here's the best bit: Bloomreach’s site search tool takes this to the next level. Offering headless search, it ensures businesses can flexibly tailor the search experience to suit their needs. From the search bar's fonts, colors, and animations to the layout of your search results pages — whether that's a list, grid, or carousel. And those individual result cards? You have the freedom to present them just the way you want. After all, a great site search tool doesn't just find; it flawlessly fits.
Results Page Optimization
There’s nothing more frustrating to your website visitors than a disorganized search engine results page (SERP). When it comes to irrelevant search results or a cluttered SERP, your visitors will certainly be led straight into a competitor's embrace.
Here's where Bloomreach shines. Not only does it offer the means to tidy up that results page, but it’s also backed by AI-powered search. It ensures the results are aligned with the searcher's intent, delivering precision instead of just volume. That means no more drowning in a sea of irrelevance — with Bloomreach, your search engine becomes less of a wild guessing game and more of a laser-focused answer machine, all thanks to the wonders of AI.
Semantic search is like the wise old owl of the digital forest. It doesn’t just hear words; it understands the intent behind them. This is important because humans have a tendency to be, well, beautifully imprecise. Semantic search realizes that when someone types “notebook,” they might very well be hunting for a laptop instead of stationery.
And let's not forget those pesky typos. In today's fast-paced world (and with autocorrect making us carefree), we're prone to the occasional slip of the finger. That’s where a “typo-tolerant” search swoops in, graciously guiding your visitors past their errors and ensuring they don't hit a dead end just because of an accidental "pnats" instead of "pants."
While the tech behind this is fascinating, what really matters is your bottom line. A search engine that doesn't grasp human nuances can keep your treasures hidden from eager shoppers. Our tip? Opt for a solution with robust synonym management. Let your site visitors find what they're seeking, even if they don’t quite know how to name it. After all, in the grand game of site search, it's understanding, not just listening, that helps brands win.
There’s something warm and welcoming about being recognized and having an experience tailored just for you. In the sprawling digital marketplace, that's precisely the comfort a personalized site search experience offers.
When customers search on your site, they aren’t just seeking products — they're seeking familiarity. This is where Bloomreach steps in with a myriad of ways to turn searches into personalized journeys. Imagine a returning customer being shown that snazzy pair of shoes they viewed last week but didn't buy, or suggesting items that align with their previous searches. By curating search results based on past behaviors, you're not just showcasing products — you're weaving a narrative that says, "Hey, we remember what you love."
And the dividends of this personal touch? Well, it can bump up your conversion rates, boost average order value, and craft an overall user experience that feels less like browsing a website and more like having a personal assistant help with your shopping. In the world of online shopping, it's the little personal nudges that can transform casual browsers into loyal customers.
Predictive search works by anticipating what online visitors are looking for by suggesting content — from potential keywords to actual products. One of the magic tricks under its sleeve is autocomplete. Simply type a couple of letters and autocomplete can fill in the rest with suggested searches. Not only does this speed up the search experience, but it can also help users avoid the dreaded “0 results” screen.
Beyond just guessing words, predictive search presents a buffet of suggested content, showcasing images, descriptions, prices, and more — all tailored to cater to the user's intent. This isn’t just about getting users from point A to point B faster; it’s about guiding them down a path where every turn reveals something valuable and where there's no dead end of irrelevance.
In this way, predictive search not only amplifies the user experience but also carves a smoother journey towards conversion, benefiting both your customers and your business. So, when considering a site search tool, look for one that doesn’t just wait for questions but offers answers even before they're fully formed.
Faceted navigation is an important part of guiding shoppers along their product discovery journey. It’s like handing over a remote to your users, loaded with various filters that empower them to tune into what they're truly seeking.
What does this look like in action? Picture the following:
- Checkboxes where users tick what matters to them, be it brand, size, or color
- Tabs letting users toggle between categories like “Men,” “Women,” or “Kids”
- Tags that are similar in function to tabs but sleeker in design
- Range filters for those who love specifics, as it lets users define a spectrum such as price range or size brackets
- “Sort by,” which lets users arrange results based on their preference, like price points or the newest additions
With faceted navigation, it isn’t just about narrowing down; it’s also about exploration, about helping users find their perfect match. So, when choosing a site search tool, opt for one that offers faceted navigation because in today's e-commerce landscape, guiding without restricting is the name of the game.
Users now expect results in the blink of an eye. Every extra second your site search takes can be a potential groan of impatience from your customer. Slow load speeds are like putting hurdles in a shopper’s sprint — frustrating, unnecessary, and detrimental to your site's UX.
Bloomreach can help bridge the gap thanks to the fast load speed and minimal downtime provided by our site search tool. It enables your business to offer a seamless, fast-paced shopping journey. This is important because speed isn’t just about time, it's about trust, efficiency, and ensuring that your customers stay with you for the long haul.
Online merchandising is a balancing act between catering to what your user is specifically searching for and introducing them to the new, bestselling, or top-rated gems you have in store.
Merchandising not only allows you to tailor which products are shown through your search bar, but it also enables you to introduce users to content. This helps users make informed choices beyond product specs and through things like articles and customer reviews.
In this way, merchandising in site search is about more than just selling; it's about curating a holistic shopping journey. Seek a site search tool that understands the art of this balance, ensuring every search not only satisfies but also surprises.
With analytics, you’re not just staring at data — you’re uncovering understanding about visitors as they navigate your site. For example, you can answer questions like: Are users increasingly typing in “support” or “cancel,” hinting at a brewing concern? Or, are there commonly searched items that return zero results, signaling a gap in your offerings? By analyzing search behaviors, you gain actionable insights, allowing you to tailor experiences, anticipate needs, and even foresee trends.
What’s more, advanced site search features like those offered by Bloomreach harness the power of AI to continuously learn, adapt, and predict — meaning you can present content based on a user’s search history even before they type in their next query.
Building a site search tool in-house might offer a sense of control, but it can be a challenging path, riddled with trial and error and unexpected hiccups, especially if you're not equipped with the right resources or expertise.
This is where hosted search solutions shine. Not only do they come with a tried-and-true formula, but they also offer a support team. Facing a glitch at 2 a.m.? Need to tweak a feature for a better user experience? Technical support ensures your site search tool runs smoothly. So, if you're debating between DIY or hosted site search solutions, remember that outsourcing means you can tap into a reservoir of expertise without any of the hassle.
As your website grows, scalability is an important feature to consider when choosing a site search tool. Crawling and indexing are two aspects behind every efficient site search. Whether your content sprawls across your website or is scattered across various platforms — from databases and CRMs to social media — you need a tool that can crawl through all of it, index it, and present it in a unified manner. This ensures that as you introduce new offerings, products, or services, they're instantly accessible to users.
As your business scales, the volume of search queries will undoubtedly surge. You’ll need a site search engine that can return queries swiftly, handle large index sizes efficiently, and maybe even distribute requests across servers during peak times.
A scalable site search tool also ensures you're equipped with new features and security enhancements to face new challenges head-on. In this way, it ensures your efforts today transition into tomorrow’s growth.
If you’ve got customers sprinkled across different countries or you’re planning on global expansion, a site search tool with robust language capabilities is essential. That’s where Bloomreach comes in. With its impressive linguistic toolkit, Bloomreach ensures your products speak every customer's language while helping your brand foster inclusivity.
Bloomreach Discovery Provides Must-Have Site Search Functionality
These 12 features are crucial for a site search tool that truly delivers. And let’s not forget the transformative impact of AI-powered search with its ability to understand users, predict needs, and offer personalized results.
For a site search tool that includes all of these must-have features, look no further than Bloomreach Discovery. Powered by Loomi, our intelligent AI built for e-commerce and trained on over 14 years of data (that’s still constantly learning and improving), you’ll be able to deliver the best search results with every visit, click, and query. Better yet, your business will benefit from the fastest ROI of any site search tool on the market.
Take your next steps into effective site search by learning how you can automatically personalize the search experience with Bloomreach Discovery.