How to Improve your Site Search Engine for Increased Sales


When customers shop at a high street store, they can turn to a sales assistant to answer any questions they have about where to find a product. Such retailers know they lose sales if customers can’t find what they need and that they are likely to turn to the store’s competitors to make their purchase and they may never return to the store that didn’t have what they were looking for. That’s why high street retailers spend so much time logically organizing their merchandise and training their sales staff to help the customers.

When customers have questions when visiting your online e-commerce store, your site search engine functions as your salesperson. You need to “train” your search engine to know not only what you sell but also how customers might describe them. If your search engine can’t accomplish these tasks, you customers will become frustrated and go elsewhere, and you will lose sales.

According to market research firm Econsultancy, visitors to an e-commerce site who use the search function are almost twice as likely to complete their purchases as those who don’t. Unfortunately, the firm also found that only 50% of searches conducted on e-commerce sites return the results that customers were looking for. That’s many potential sales you are missing.

Improving the following issues can help you recover those lost sales.

Pay attention to the long tail when tweaking your search engine

The most popular searches on your site will be for your best-selling items, so it’s tempting to overlook the category of searches known as the long tail. That strategy is probably costing you sales. Many of the searches in the long tail contain detailed search strings, meaning that the searchers had specific products in mind and were already close to making a buying decision. Often, these long search strings contain typos and scrambled model numbers. If you don’t pay attention to these types of searches and don’t instruct your search engine how to deal with them, you’re losing sales.

Make your search engine results attractive and accurate

Your internal search engine results are like the display window in an on-street store, so treat them accordingly. Your images should be high quality and relevant to the search term. If a customer is searching for a red wool sweater, be sure the sweater pictured is red. It may sound obvious, but many sites would use the same sweater image in search results regardless of the color a searcher specifies, leading a customer to question whether you are running a reliable site.

If your search engine is pulling information from several locations, be sure the price information is consistent. If you display more than one price for an identical item, you will quickly lose your credibility, not to mention potential sales.

Make your search engine compatible with voice-recognition apps

More consumers are using voice-recognition apps on mobile devices when interacting with e-commerce sites, so make sure your search engine is compatible with them. Consumers using these apps tend to use more natural language than when typing search terms, and the search string will often contain filler words, such as for, so and the ubiquitous uh. For example, a desktop search might say “cat bed,” while a voice search might say “bed for my cat.” You need to configure your search engine to search for relevant terms (cat, bed) and ignore the irrelevant ones (my, for) so searchers are not overwhelmed with meaningless results.

Used efficiently, site search engines will increase your sales.

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