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January 30, 2010

The Benefits of Installing Internal Site Search

Today’s websites are more complex than ever before. Many contain a wealth of information visitors can use to answer their questions and learn what they need to know before contacting a company or making a purchase online.

But with all the information and features packed into many of today’s websites, it can also be more difficult for site visitors to first of all determine whether or not a website will contain the information they need and then find it on the website. Installing a site search box can offer several advantages to help your site visitors—and also benefit your marketing function in the process.

Site search satisfies the customer’s “I want it now” attitude

Installing an internal site search box can help visitors find what they need more quickly. With web users still looking to find what they need as fast as possible, confusing navigation and cluttered design are more likely than ever to prompt an “on-to-the-next-site” response.

Internal site search is undoubtedly the quickest way for someone to find what they’re looking for on a large and complex site. An internal site search helps visitors get around navigational structures that may be confusing to them. This is especially important for sites that are constantly adding new content. As the site continues to grow, many users will find the site search function to be a valuable tool in helping them find what they need.

Site search makes a website more customer centric

Installing an internal site search also means you can transform your website from a static “one size fits all” style to a more “customer-centric” approach. More and more, websites need to simultaneously cater to different types of website users – knowledge seekers, prospects, buyers and long-term customers. Internal site search helps you do this, as it helps those seeking knowledge find and assess your resources more easily.

Site search appeals to the “searcher” type of site visitor

Different people prefer different types of navigation tools. For example, if someone uses a search engine like Google to arrive at your website, they are more likely to prefer the same search method for finding information within your website. It’s not uncommon for site visitors to look immediately for the site search box when they arrive at a website.

Site search arms marketers with data

Marketers can benefit tremendously from installing an internal site search function. With the right analytic tool, internal site search can provide a wealth of information about who visits your site and how they navigate around it.

Site search data can provide insight into customer desires, intent, and behavior. While a customer might tell a different story if asked for feedback in a focus group or online survey, for example, site search data can reveal exactly which pages they looked for and found, which searches intrigued them to continue reading as well as those that prompted them to leave the site. This will contribute to the conversation when analyzing conversion rate performance across content and site sections.

Site search provides insight into personas and usability issues

Site search can provide usability data without the expense of setting up testing facilities. When the usage data and click path from real users is saved and available for viewing and analysis anytime, a marketer can see where searchers encountered difficulty. Looking at this data across multiple users can give clues to areas of the site that require updating and expansion, for example.

Adding typical searched on phrases to flesh out descriptions of the various personas using your site can also help enrich the entire web team’s understanding of the types of people using the site. This information will be particularly helpful to any copywriters who are preparing content for selling pages and product descriptions, etc.

Site search brings ideas for new products

Users’ searches can even inspire new product offerings. If you see that many visitors are searching your site for a particular type of product or service that you don’t yet offer, it may be time to consider developing an offering to fit that underserved need. Especially if your site is already bringing traffic for those particular searches, your company may do well to act on this informal market research.

Site search reveals new keywords

You may end up finding new keywords you were never aware of, allowing you the opportunity to tweak your content so more users will find the information they need on your site. Perhaps some of your pages that you feel are relevant to a specific topic are missing a few of the terms people are actually searching on. In that case, you’ll have the opportunity to add them as appropriate and further refine your content, making it even more targeted to your users.

In addition, those keywords can be added to your search marketing campaigns, perhaps offering a chance to reach a wider audience on the Internet than originally anticipated.

In order for your company to remain competitive online, you need to be open to the new ways people are finding and disseminating information. Site search is an exciting utility for websites looking to evolve their websites according to user demands.

Editor’s Note: So, if you want to add search to your website, what
are your options? There are a number of free and commercial solutions
available on the Web but below are several of the former:

Google Custom Search

Perlfect Search – Provides 2 pages of site search solutions.
Resource Index – Numerous Perl and PHP search scripts can be found here for DIY webmasters.

Lisa Banks – SEO Advantage is a search engine optimization company that helps businesses harness the revenue generation potential of their websites. Find us referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR. Visit today for more information.

20 Responses to “The Benefits of Installing Internal Site Search

    avatar KCDoberstein says:

    Great article! I never gave it much thought about using the search terms used for future content keywords.

    avatar Ravi Kant says:

    I just apply this technique on my client’s site and its useful.

    avatar remonatrix says:

    This is such good advice. The analytics of a site is so important in order to make the right decisions about how to get a site up and optimized.

    Adding a search box with data gathering capabilities is really a step up in adding client comprehension to the equasion.

    avatar website copywriter says:

    Wow! Been looking for something like this for ages. Thanks a bunch for some great ideas.


    Sites are there for the visitors, so anything that makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for should always be a consideration. Good advice, Lisa.

    avatar Listninja says:

    I recently added google custom search and have seen the benefits but thanks for pointing out a few more.

    avatar silver jewellery says:

    Great advice, it’s made me look again at the analytics pages that I once thought wasn’t worth looking at. Many many thanks.

    Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

    Great piece – thanks!

    This is a great idea for every website owner. If visitors to a website are not able to quickly find what they need, they will leave and go to the next website, meaning that you lose a potential customer.

    Very helpful info!

    avatar Ronfell says:

    We build the majority of our sites using the WordPress platform and the internal search on our themes has been invaluable. Make sure your search box is easy to see at the top of your home page.

    avatar Lisa Banks says:

    Great point, Ronfell!

    Awesome information, looks great will check back for more. Photo Booth Florida
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    I really enjoyed reading your information. We are always searching for great articles. Thanks so much.

    avatar DJ Orlando FL says:

    Great information, it’s really hard to find reliable sources out there. Thanks for sharing.

    I just wanted to add that I think blogging is such a good way to find information on the internet. People are always looking for info.

    Great information, really appreciate you sharing the info online.

    Thanks so much for sharing all the information on the blog. We really value what we’ve read on here.

    Such a great website and we appreciate all the information.

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