When I study Google Analytics data I often find that shoppers who use Site Search convert at a higher rate and generate better Average Order Values. If this is true for your site too consider doing what basspro.com does. When you land on their homepage the cursor starts blinking on Site Search box. This is subtle effect but it makes all the difference. Check it out @ basspro.com.
Google Analytics has a report that shows conversion rate of people who use your site search box, and the percentage of site visitors that use it. If you notice that the conversion rate is really high (relative to site average) and utilization is really low then you could do what thefresh20.com does. They have a search graphic element anchored to the right hand side of browser …
… that scrolls with you as you scroll the page (looks like its floating). On click a search box springs open—
Nice design implementation that minimizes screen real-estate usage while making it super easy for shoppers to run a search query.
Allrecipes.com knows site visitors use Site Search extensively to hunt for recipes. But allrecipes.com needs to use screen real-estate judiciously, thus search box can’t be too big. How does one satisfy these two opposing realities?
Allrecipes has found a solution. When a visitor clicks Site Search box they dynamically make it bigger—
Will this idea work on your site? A/B test it.
You may think your return policy page link is super visible. But Google Analytics data will reveal a very small % of site visitors see your return policy content. If this is true for your site I have a suggestion– edit Site Search settings (from admin) so that when shoppers enter variations of the phrase “return policy” they are taken to your return policy page. On Zappos.com searching for the term “return policy” …
… takes visitors to the correct page– http://www.zappos.com/general-questions#return
Does your site do this?
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Vistaprint.com sells 1000s of business cards (among other things).
I saw this ad …
… so I clicked it. That took me to this page– http://www.vistaprint.com/gallery/IAEAAAABAAAAAAA=/premium-business-cards.aspx
What I love about this landing page is that it was designed for someone arriving from the ad. Vistaprint.com realizes when shoppers are presented with 168 X 24 = 4,032 card designs (too many options) they use the search interface. But instead of trying to make the search bar more visible through subtle tweaks vistaprint.com shows it as a popup, thus making it impossible to miss. They realize faster visitors get to their desired design higher the likelihood they’ll convert.
Another nifty feature: Since I entered via ‘business cards’ ad vistprint.com knows that’s what I’m interested it. Now when I type vistprint.com on my browser I’m redirected to their “business cards” section. I can return to homepage by clicking Vistaprint logo on top left corner.
Most sites show small product images in site search to maximize how much they can fit on screen. This makes logical sense. Some examples–
Example 1: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/CAMOmnifindQueryCmd?storeId=226&catalogId=40000000226&langId=-1&searchCategory=&ip_state=&ip_constrain=&ip_navtype=search&pageSize=24¤tPage=&ip_sortBy=&searchKeywords=camping+tent
Example 2: http://www.rei.com/search?query=camping+tent
4 column display is an industry standard. If everyone is following this convention it must be the best, right?
Backcountry.com has taken a different approach, sacrificing efficiency for user experience …
… and I think they’ve nailed it. What’s really clever is that backcountry.com gives visitors the choice to switch to the traditional compact view, thus allowing backcountry.com to study user preference.
With on-site search etailers can measure result page effectiveness by observing Search Exits and Search Refinements. However, the big limitation with analytics is that it only answers the “what is happening?” question. To get to “why is this happening?” we need to make a small code tweak and display this below result page (borrowed from Amazon.com)-
NewEgg.com does this too…