Setting Up ShopSite Search Correctly

ShopSite’s ® search feature is quite powerful and provides a high level of customization for online merchants. On-site search is one of the most important functions of any ecommerce site. In fact, a recent Internet Retailer article about site search had this statement from the CTO of a major online retailer:

We get up to 30% of our revenue through site search

That’s quite a lot for a large online store! So getting your website’s search system setup correctly is paramount to the bottom line…

The basics of ShopSite’s search

There are two settings that you have to enable/configure to get started:

1. Page search
Under Pages -> Edit Page Content for each page, there is a checkbox for “Check here to have this page indexed for product search”. This needs to be checked for pages that have products that you want to be indexed by ShopSite.

Also, a commonly missed setting for merchants using their own search code is:
– ShopSite requires that at least one page has the checkbox checked for “Check here to add a product search field to your page”. This setting is what determines if ShopSite will create a search index or not. Make sure at least one page (even if it’s a test page not linked on your actual site) has this checkbox checked.

2. Product search
Under Products -> Edit Product Info is a section for “Search Destination”. Make sure you set this appropriately for each product. One of the options is “None” which means the product will not be included in the search database.

Tip: If you use order anywhere add to cart buttons on non-ShopSite generated pages, you can specify a URL where the search result should link to for each product. This allows the search feature to work with any webpage, even if it’s not created/managed by ShopSite. (We have more details on this in our Search and Order Anywhere Tutorial.)

Search Configuration Settings

Search Settings -> Search Indexing -> “Index numbers”
This setting is often overlooked, which will result in customers not being able to search for numbers (like part numbers, SKUs, etc…). Make sure you enable this setting so numbers get indexed.

Search Settings -> Search Indexing -> “Ignore Subproducts during indexing”
Having this enabled can help clean up your search results, unless sub-products are a major feature of your store.

Search Settings -> Search Indexing -> (Indexable Fields)
This is where you can choose which fields in ShopSite are indexed for search. In addition, you can set the priority of each field. This is important as the fields that contain the phrases and keywords most searched by your users can be given a higher priority for more accurate and relevant results.

Search Settings -> Search Layout -> “Search terms are”

Getting this setting right is important. I would recommend the settings above for these reasons:
– You want whole word searches as this will return the most relevant results. It gives the user products with the exact keywords they typed.
– You want the “auto new search with stems if nothing found” so the system will try to check for plurals, past tense, additional letters at the end if nothing is found.
– You only want the stems on the end of the word. i.e. A search for “book” would also return results for “books, bookend, bookish” if the main keyword was not found.

Logging (and actually using) search queries and results

It’s not enough to just enable search logging. You have to dig through this data at least weekly (if not daily) and use the results to fine-tune your search. We have an in-depth post about Analyzing Your Search Results that explains this further.

Custom Search Templates

ShopSite provides a great deal of customization for the search results page. In fact, you can customize the main search results page, the way page links are displayed, and how products are displayed. This makes the system a bit more complex to fully customize.

A great resource is the ShopSite Template Cookbook on Custom Search Templates

Advanced Tips

Remove page links
If you do not want the page links to be displayed in the search results (i.e. you only want products displayed), here is a simple workaround from the ShopSite Forums.

Index actual page content
ShopSite’s search is designed to index product content. If you want your page content to also be indexed, we put together a tutorial on how to get page content in ShopSite to appear in the search results.

Multi-column search results
If you want your search results to appear in more than one column, the ShopSite template cookbook on Adding Columns to Search Results is a great resource. (For a discussion whether list or column view is better, check out Getelastic’s blog post on Grid vs. List View)

Dynamic pages using ShopSite search
Use ShopSite’s search to have dropdown menus for shop by brand, shop by price, etc… Our tutorial will show you how.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into the ShopSite search. Getting it setup correctly, analyzing how your customers interact with the search, and then adjusting settings and keywords is an ongoing process. It is necessary to be vigilant when it comes to on-site search to maximize your revenue when customers are trying to find products on your site.

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