Marketers are obsessed with SEO and improving their ranking on Google, but there is another aspect of search that is equally important: providing effective search on your website.
We asked organizations if they planned any search projects in 2018 and 49% said they were. The types of search solutions varied, as shown below.
Q: What types of search solutions are you considering?
Let's look at each type of search solution a little closer.
Every website should have a search option. It doesn't matter how well organized your site is, you should offer visitors a way to find the information they want quickly. Search enables them to do that. The problem is many websites employ a search solution that doesn't work very well. It doesn't index the content properly, and you can't customize the search to return the best results to the visitor.
If your search is bad, then you probably shouldn't have one. But that's the wrong way to look at it. The right way is to find a search solution that gives you all the functionality you need.
Guided or Faceted Search
One way to improve search is to implement facets or guided search. Facets work with your content taxonomy; grouping search results into collections of similar information. The visitor can then filter down search results quickly to find the information they want.
If you have a customer support portal, search is equally important and harder to do. You want to enable your customers to search across different applications: knowledge base, community forums, help documentation, ticket management. That requires a search solution that can connect to multiple repositories so that when a customer types in a search, all repositories are searched, and a single set of results is returned.
Called federated search, there is a lot that needs to happen for it to work properly. You'll want to ensure that secure content can be included, but only shown to people with the right permissions. You'll also want to exclude elements of the content from your search, so there needs to be a way to indicate what information to include in the search.
Federated search is also sometimes needed for public websites when you incorporate resources from other locations. A good example here is when you store your PDFs in a separate repository from the website but want to include them in searches.
What if you want to provide navigation that is fluid, updating as information changes? Maybe you have a product page that provides a list of additional recommended products based on the product shown? Search-based navigation can be used to create that listing. Each time the page is viewed, the listing is automatically updated according to metadata, content types, keywords or other information taken from the product shown.
According to research from Baymard Insitute "70% of (desktop) e-commerce search implementations are unable to return relevant results for product-type synonyms (requiring users to search using the exact same jargon as the site) and 34% don't return useful results when users search for a model number or misspell a word with just a single character in the product title."
Mobile search is just as bad.
Improving search on ecommerce websites and mobile apps is extremely important. Search results don't just have to list products, but can also show relevant content that helps the searcher make better-informed decisions.
...And That's Not All Search Can Do
We've covered many of the ways search can be improved to provide a better experience for customers and website visitors, but there are others I can think of right way, including geo-location and proximity-based search.
The point is, search can improve the way organizations get the right content to the right person when they need it.