how to optimize your internal search engine?

Your internal search engine is not performing? Do you have a large number of searches that lead to 0 results? Your users are not helped to type the right search terms? If the answers are yes then you potentially lose customers. Why ? This article proposes an inventory of fixtures and how to adapt when the technique and the development can be a brake …

What is an internal search engine, why the word searchandising?

The user, used to using the Google search engine and receiving relevant answers expects the same thing on the different sites he visits. The internal search engine must provide a quick and relevant response to the user looking for a product or information on your site. The internal engine becomes indispensable as soon as your site contains many pages.

Training & Co'm

What means searchandising ? According to the Mercator "Contraction of Search and Merchandising. Method to direct the course of the user in a merchant site while leaving his hand. So we will focus on optimizing access to information as easily and quickly as possible for the user to be satisfied and converted!

To illustrate this, we can compare the engine to the referral of the seller in a big shop:

  • Customer in a sports shop: "I'm looking for women's shorts. " (already the information short and woman, if the request is unknown of the salesman one will teach him = addition of synonyms via rules in the engine).
  • The seller will ask " for what need, which sport? " (will match a category filter).
  • The client will then answer: " to run. "

The seller can then direct him to the right radius and if he wants to help the client a bit more, he will eventually complete by asking him his level of practice / the price range, the brand that he wants to take and then him offer adapted shorts. Or, if the customer does not know, offer him relevant short corresponding to the interests of the company (margin, stock …) (= boost rules with the engine)

Some figures on internal search engines

We can see with his own statistics and barometers that on average:

  • 20 to 60% of the visitors use an internal engine on a site according to the notoriety and the scale of the catalog.
  • According to the FEVAD (Federation of e-commerce and distance selling), nearly 30% of online shoppers use this search form to start their browsing.
  • About 20 to 30% do a new search if the result is not relevant.
  • About 30% leave the site if they do not have relevant results.
  • A 50% rate of 0 can be reduced to less than 20% within a few weeks, helping to increase the overall conversion rate of the site by at least 5% (Benchmark Scinetik).

Amazon is an example of a site where users use almost nothing but search (including me ^^) because it is relevant and allows you to find your way around a huge catalog. Also, even typing anything we have a result!

The current features of a powerful engine

At the level of the search bar:

  • Autocomplete.
  • Complete thesaurus with possibility to add synonyms …
  • Instantaneous results propositions in auto-completion with products, categories (see filters).
  • Motor merchandising: basic automatic boost (ex: products in stock, with promo …) + boost customization with rules, or case by case and if possible with the history of the user on the site.
  • Ability to directly match a keyword or a reference with a product, ditto for the category.
  • Integration of images, prices and promos in the proposals.
  • Search not price or references that gives suggestions.
  • Search CMS pages (content, example purchase guides).

At the level of the results:

  • Ranking also according to the boost.
  • Classification according to the history of the user, so make up the relevant products in relation to its navigation on the site.
  • Otherwise usual rankings (popularity, sales …).
  • Proposals of products if 0 result.
  • Do you mean? if the word is not recognized during the search.
  • Usual filters on the side.
  • Redirections directly to specific pages via back office matching (product, categories or cms).

What solutions on the market? How to choose ?

It is necessary to distinguish the solutions developed internally and the modules that are installed on most open source solutions (Prestashop …).

You will find a complete analysis of the main existing solutions on the Smile agency's white paper (rather complete and well written). Prefer modules or solutions in SaaS to avoid any upgrade problems.

If as for Casal Running (one of the sites I work on) you have technical brakes and you can not or do not want to install complete and complicated solutions to implement, there are simple and fast solutions. For example we use for this doofinder site that allows with a catalog flow plus a copy-and-paste script to set up a nice and relevant engine. However we only act on the search bar part but it is better than nothing!

Source Image: Shutterstock.