Site Search — More Than Just a Box

by Nicolas Wu

posted on 05-25-2017

Your site search could be a rock star for your business. It’s the one digital marketing capability for your website or mobile site that explicitly tells you what your customers want. It’s a customer-intent agent with the power to give your customers a “Wow!” experience by putting the right product or content in front of them. Yet most brands still view it as basic utility — a site requirement that’s been met when you have a search box on your website. If you fall into this group, or you’ve been using the soon-to-be-retired Google Search Appliance (GSA) or Google Site Search (GSS), consider this your chance to re-evaluate the role that search plays on your site.

Get Results Like Intel Did
In a recent webinar, Intel’s search guru, Shawn Basalyga, shared the company’s experiences after they switched their search to Adobe Search&Promote. With it, they could leverage profiles, behavioral data, and visitor search terms to dial in and deliver more accurate search results.

After fine-tuning search results in February, click through rates rose 8.5 percent compared to the out-of-the box search results they’d experienced in January. Searchers found what they were looking for more easily, too — the average search-results position that the visitor clicked on bumped up from 2.9 to 2.7. Even when searches on seasonally dropped by 180,000 in March, clicks still climbed by 10,000.

To get results like Intel does, look for the following four characteristics in your search solution:

1. The Ability to Own Your Data.
In the past, a search engine periodically indexed website content and looked at the index to deliver results that most closely matched a search term. Today, search engines have much more data at their disposal to determine what results to display — visitor location, device type, browsing history, profile data, behavioral data, and more. If you’re using an Internet search engine, you’re giving away that data. Yes, these engines are powerful, but, because you don’t own your customer data, you never learn what drives visitors to your site. As a result, upsell and cross-sell opportunities become a guess. You need to own that data.

2. The Ability to Scale, With no Sweat Equity Required.
If you work for a large enterprise, you may have sites with thousands to millions of pages or products, and high-traffic volumes searching those sites. The last thing you need is a system that hiccups when pushed to its limits. If you’re like most, you don’t have time to keep backend-technology updated. You’d like to just slip behind the wheel, turn the key, and start driving. Look for a SaaS solution that handles the technology side for you.

3. The Ability to Retain Extreme Control Over the Search Algorithm and Display Results.
Rather than managing software updates, you need a solution that lets you focus on optimizing search results and delivering great visitor experiences — like Intel did. You need to be able to choose what data to index, and even how to weight your index in the results. Site search solutions like Adobe Search&Promote ensure your site search shows visitors highly relevant results with the content you want to promote.

However, you shouldn’t just cross your fingers and hope that you’ve zeroed in on the right index and weighting. A good search solution should let you easily A/B test and validate your choices.

By the way, with Internet search engines, you can’t control the algorithm to influence results. This means you can’t promote content for best results. For example, you can’t push the latest content to the top, promote a new product, or surface the most popular customer-support articles. You also can’t control how often the engine re-indexes your site, so new content will take a while to appear in search results. And, frequently, you can’t customize how results display, which can cause a jarring user experience when search results don’t feel like they’re part of your brand. Solutions like Adobe Search&Promote let you set up business rules that determine what to display and when based on specific keyword-search triggers.

4. The Ability to Easily Set it Up and Assure Quality Results.
Ironically, some search tools make you search high and low for the functionality you need to set it up and assess the quality of your results. Look for a solution that lets you work in a consistent, marketer-friendly user interface, and that easily works hand-in-hand with other digital marketing solutions for digital analytics, A/B testing, recommendations, targeting, and audience management. Make sure you can easily assure quality results before you push your site search live, so you are confident in the relevancy of those results and how they display.

Carpe Searchem — Seize the Site Search Opportunity.
Not to hammer on this point, but site search has come a long way. It’s ready and waiting to help you deliver those “Wow!” experiences that pay off for your customers and your business. If you’re ready to get the most from your site search, explore Adobe Search&Promote. It ticks all the boxes. And if you’re already using solutions in Adobe Experience Cloud (Adobe Target, Adobe Experience Manager, and Adobe Analytics), your customers will experience even more accurately personalized results, so your business will reap even bigger rewards.


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