The digital equivalent of a helpful librarian

On-site search is a facility which not every website offers and not all visitors make use off. However, managed well, it can be a key tool to increasing visitor engagement

Offering an efficient on-site search – or internal search - facility can be tricky. In many ways it shouldn’t be too prominent and potentially ‘pushy’, while it needs to be easy to find and use. One could compare it to walking into any shop on the High Street.

Most of us don’t want that pushy sales assistant who appears as soon as we walk in asking us if they can help before we’ve caught our breath. On the other hand, if we’ve been wandering around for a little while and simply can’t find what we are looking for, we want a sales assistant to appear at that moment.

The majority of us do our searching outside of individual websites and simply type ‘blue socks’ – or whatever we are looking for - into our search engine. But, many website visitors do find it a useful tool once they’re on a website and a good on-site search facility could mean the difference between a sale and somebody leaving the website empty-handed.

Apparently, visitors who make a point of typing something into an on-site search facility are more likely to buy, than ones who simply browse the site, as they are already in buying mode. Arguably, it’s worth making the on-site search facility easy to find for that reason.

It has to work effectively though. Again, if you are in that High Street store and you’ve found a sales assistant, it makes for a better shopping experience overall if they are helpful and point you towards the product you are looking for. If they get confused and bring you a range of things you simply don’t want, the likelihood of a sale falls away rapidly. The last thing a website visitor wants is an empty on-site search box when they’ve sent their search request or a list of things that don’t match their search.

Again, the key for a website is to be able to distinguish between somebody who is simply browsing and somebody who is very clearly looking to buy. Do you remember in the early days of PCs how annoying that little paperclip character was who appeared whenever you set up a new document saying things like ‘It looks like you’re writing a letter, can I help?’. While this seemed like a perfectly reasonable question, it got quite annoying after a while…

According to a recent article in Search Engine Journal, ‘interacting with an optimised on-site search function is the digital equivalent of a passionate and helpful librarian’.

Again, it’s useful to understand how visitors move through a website and make the journey as easy as possible for them. As ever, Sitecore is the perfect platform for building these customer profiles and capturing and deciphering their behaviour. Utilised well, a good on-site search facility is another tool for successfully turning website visitors into customers.

If you want to find out more about how Lake Solutions can help your organisation developing an effective on-site search facility, then get in touch.


Article Details

Ian Jepp
10 February 2020