Know Your Search Results

Most online stores such as ShopSite incorporate a search feature for customers to find the products they want.  Although this is a critical feature to have for any ecommerce website, you’re missing out on a ton of valuable information if you are not logging every search that is performed.

Luckily, with ShopSite, it’s easy to turn on search logging (Preferences -> Search Settings -> Search Logging).  Once enabled, the software will record every search, and more importantly, how many results were returned and the number of times each search phrase is used:


Looking at the above search results, we can see the most popular search is for “widget“.  We’ll talk more about popular results a litter further down the page. What’s more interesting are the searches that have *zero* results. We’ll break these down into two important categories:

  • Typos and common misspellings

    From the example above, a number of people searched for “wiget” and did not find anything.  These not found results / failed searches are critical to improving your online store. In this case, it would make sense to include this common misspelling in the search keywords for this product. All it takes is a quick summary of failed searches each day to help enhance your search results and help people find the product when they don’t always type it correctly.

  • Products that you do not carry

    A search for “air pump” resulted in zero results.  Based on this, the merchant may want to consider adding some air pumps to their inventory to compliment their bike offerings.  Or look at developing a new product line based on interest.  Or allow an ad on the search results page as an affiliate for an air pump specialty store.  These types of failed searches can offer valuable insight into new product lines that you can add, or new opportunities for cross-sell / upsell.

“Being popular is cool!”

Your most popular search results obviously tell you what most people are looking for, and hopefully finding on your site.  But this statistic alone is relatively meaningless in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).  Maybe people are searching and getting results, but are they clicking on to the more information page, adding items to the cart, and ultimately buying these products?

If you do not have the answers to these questions, then it’s tough to gauge whether your search feature is adding to the bottom line.  Fortunately, there are lots of tools to help analyze this data.  Google Analytics can provide details on e-commerce purchases, and you can set goals and funnels to determine when buyers go from search to the cart to checkout.  Urchin is another software program that can provide similar details and can integrate seamlessly with ShopSite.

One last thing you can look at in the search results is to randomly sample a few individual searches that track one user’s search keywords that are entered.  This can be benficial to see if people are constantly trying to fine tune their searches because they are seeing too many results, or trying more generic terms as the results are too specific.  It can often be an eye opening experience to see how the “real world” is using the search feature on your site.

Although having a search on your site is better than no search at all, if you’re not analyzing these results on a regular basis, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful tools to help improve your store: Instant feedback from your potential customers on what they want and what they can’t find in your store.

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  1. Brent says:

    Glad to see the new blog. I am sure it will be filled with valuable information. As for search logging it is pretty basic, but still a must for anyone using search in ShopSite. I think by default it is turned off, so don’t forget to enable this feature.

  2. Gary says:

    Do you know if it works with an add on, like Nextopia’s search?

Leave a Reply to Gary