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How To Optimise Your Website: On-Site Search

As an eCommerce agency, we are constantly trying to find and promote ways our customers can optimise their website design with the aim of encouraging highly engaged site sessions, increasing website sales and improving conversion rates.

From our experience, the first and best way to optimise your website is by analysing its existing data. For this we recommend using Google’s web analysis platform, Google Analytics, as unlike lots of backend provider analytics tools, Google Analytics offers a widespread account of highly accurate data.

If you’ve not already set up and linked a Google Analytics account to your website, Google’s very easy guide talks you through each step on how to do so here.

Why Data?

Analysing website data, particularly the behavioural data in Google Analytics, allows you to build up a knowledge base of how the typical customer shops on the site. This includes factors such as understanding how they tend to filter products on the site, what device they favour to access the site, as well as which pages are most popular and which are least popular. Thus, any design changes are centred around your existing customers and cold, hard facts.

Analysing website data, particularly the behavioural data in Google Analytics, allows you to build up a knowledge base of how the typical customer shops on the site. This includes factors such as understanding how they tend to filter products on the site

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While we could go on for hours about why we believe analysing data is so important, we’d rather not bore you to death. Instead, we are going to take the next two minutes to draw your attention to one lovely piece of data that we see so commonly overlooked in Google Analytics: On-Site Search Usage.

Firstly, before we go over exactly how you can use on-site search data, you need to know how to find it! Simply log in to your Google Analytics account and follow the steps below:

Reporting > Behaviour > Site Search > Usage

Additionally, if you haven’t set up your on-site search in Google Analytics and you are unsure of exactly how to do this, again, you can use Google’s very easy directions to do so here.  Although, you will need to wait a couple of days before really looking into the data. This is because it can take up to 24 hours for data to show up in Google Analytics reports.

Now let’s get back to how on-site search data could be the key to optimising your site…

An on-site search is a powerful tool. It is not the last resort of a failed structure but rather quick, powerful tool customers can use to find exactly what they’re looking for. By knowing what your customers are searching for on your site, you can help to identify:

  • Missing or obscured content on the site
  • Optimise navigation and site layout working to improve the user experience
  • Improve search results
  • Generate new keywords or marketing campaigns

Yet, more importantly, customers who use on-site search often convert at a much higher rate than those who do not. The below case study is a prime example of a company who used search data to optimise their search bar and improve the site-wide conversion rate by 30% across a four-month comparison period.

Meet JollyBrolly

JollyBrolly is an eCommerce company that sell umbrellas. The company was created by the co-owner here at Media Lounge, Adam King, and has been running for the past 10 years, and after a long period of eCommerce success, it was time to look into other ways to optimise the website.

Beth, the Managing Director at JollyBrolly, takes it upon herself to look at the Google Analytics account on a daily basis. In doing so, she began to notice visits to the website that included an on-site search were far more engaged and far more likely to convert than visits which did not include an on-site search. Here are the comparative statistics between visits which included a site search and visits which did not for the start of 2017:

With enough data to conclude that visits with on-site search perform better, the next step was to encourage more visitors to use the on-site search feature.

The Solution

JollyBrolly set about designing a new search bar that was larger and bolder in colour, making it more prominent on the website (see designs below).

The old search bar design:

The new search bar design:

The Outcome

The newly designed search bar was introduced on 22nd May 2017 and has since seen some fantastic results, as detailed in the graph below:

As the graph clearly shows, the percentage of sessions with a site search has increased and stayed consistently high since the new search bar optimisation in May. While the site search revenue percentage is less consistent, the lowest site search revenue percentage recorded post the search bar optimisation was 11% in September. This was higher than all months previous to the optimisation apart from the freak spike in January where sessions with a site search accounted for 15.8% of the total site revenue and November 2016 which accounted for 11.6%.

Taking May as an anomaly as this marked the introduction of the new search bar, we can see that the search bar has improved sessions with a site search by 79% and accounted for 39% more of the total site revenue:

Here’s what Beth, the MD of JollyBrolly had to say about the success:

“The search bar optimisation was a fairly simple change yet it had a significant impact on our site’s performance – an easy win in our book! Off the back of this success, we are now trialling different search providers in the search for the quickest and most intelligent one to further optimise the tool. Overall, I would strongly recommend that other eCommerce businesses keep a close eye on their site search as they too could see fantastic results!”

So that’s it! Proof in black and white that keeping an eye on on-site search data can help you optimise your eCommerce website and improve results in a matter of months!

You’ll thank us later!

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