I was prompted to write this post when I came across a beautifully designed blog called My Tropical Escape. Their theme is extremely attractive and most of the important functions are there – except search. I wanted to link to one of their posts that I saw mentioned elsewhere, but when I didn’t find it in the first few pages and couldn’t search for it they lost that opportunity (until I created this one instead).
The only factor more important than the ability to easily find and then quickly search any site is making it obvious what the site is offering. Here is why search is critical to EVERY site:
- Ecommerce stores lose sales every day because their products are not showing up on searches that they SHOULD show up on. Most visitors will simply assume you don’t have it and leave.
- Too many search results is just as bad as too few; most Internet users are not going to trudge through page after page of results – especially if too many of them are not relevant.
- Bloggers gain readers through incoming links. Other bloggers will link to you IF they can quickly and easily find a post they’ve read on your site. Some of us search specific blogs as we write. If your blog doesn’t have a search, we won’t be searching it. (Yes, I know there are other options for searching blogs; however, that doesn’t change the fact that having YOUR OWN search is important.)
- Visitors to EVERY site are searching for something. If you don’t have a good search function they won’t find what they’re looking for and you’ve just lost a potential sale, lead, or subscriber – possibly forever.
Many times I see an inquiry on Twitter or FriendFeed or am asked via email and I recall where I read the answer. If I can lay my hands on it fairly quickly, I’ll share your link every time an opportunity presents itself. (If I consider it REALLY important I will search far longer than most would.)
I might notice someone is searching for a gift that I know where to find. Make it easy for me to quickly search your site and I’ll send them directly to what they’re seeking. I do this regularly for Executive Gift Shoppe because their search function is good and I know what they carry.
I also know the owner is honest and provides excellent, personalized service – the kind you can only get from a small business. I know his engraving work is accurate and they’ll put a rush on those last minute orders to ensure you get them in time.
I have an idea for a contest to prove the importance of search and how it affects the effectiveness of word-of-mouth referrals. I’ll post more on it in a new post later today or tomorrow.
Remember this: Many will share what you do IF they can do it quickly and easily.
I am NOT the only person who could be spreading the word about your site or your work. Make it as easy for them as you can. If you aren’t already, take these steps a.s.a.p.:
- Be sure you have search on your site.
- Make it easy to find: best placement is in the top right corner, followed by in your navigation.
- DON’T bury it among a ton of links way down in the left or right column somewhere.
- If you have an online store SERIOUSLY consider upgrading your search function.
- Ensure it is obvious HOW to use your search – don’t use ambiguous wording (refer to the book Don’t Make Me Think for more on this).
As always, YOUR input and links to related articles you find useful are encouraged. Please do leave them in the DoFollow comments. Periodically we move the best links up into reference sections below each post.
RELATED TO THE IMPORTANCE OF SITE SEARCH:
- Forrester Report on Site Search
- According to Forrester Research Companies Need Better Site Search
- The Importance of Site Search in an eCommerce Site
- Frank Thinking on Site Search
Know of a good article on site search? Have you upgraded your site search function and want to recommend the solution you’re using? Please do leave a comment. As important as Site Search is there must be some great articles out there buried amongst the not-so-useful.
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