Archive for September, 2007

Improving the visibility of site search

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I saw this blog post about a Web Analytics day in Brussels last week. It was interesting to see their take aways about site search, specifically:

  • Visitors using site search are better customers.

  • Analysts recommend improving the visibility of site search.
  • One experiment found that by improving site search visibility 2% more visitors used site search and this resulted in a 1% increase in total revenue over a year.

Our customers also see this. For example, In the last 24 hours I have heard of a customer of ours who found that a large portion of their revenue was from customers who used their site search and so they’ve redesigned their site to make the site search more visible and are tracking the results.

The site search box on your site should be clear, large and above the fold so your visitors can find and use it easily. My preference is to not have any text in the box. See an earlier post: Which box is the search?.

Shop.org 2007

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This week we’re exhibiting at the Shop.org Annual Summit in Las Vegas, booth #417. Please come and see us if you’re at the show – we’d love to see you.

I also recommend stopping by the Exact Target Booth (612). They will be presenting a case study detailing the integration of their service with both Omniture and our Learning Search technology, to produce personalized email marketing for Ulta Cosmetics.

Shop.org 2007 Las Vegas

Marketing Sherpa Search Marketing Report

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Marketing Sherpa released a Search Marketing report today. It contains some interesting information about search marketing but – also, a lot of information about internal search (aka site search).

Some points worth noting:

  • Analyzing internal site search terms was one of the most popular keyword research techniques identified for search marketing.

  • One survey greatly emphasised the importance of site search – over 50% of people who have decided what they are going to do when they visit a retailer site have decided to use the site search. We’ve seen this data before – about 50% of people are search focused – but it’s great to have it reinforced. This is why over 95% of retail sites now have search boxes.
  • Even though it is universally recognized that site search is extremely important and that people who use site search are more likely to buy, over half the retailers rated their site search as being poor! What’s more retailers rated their site search higher than non-retailers – so the non retail sites have even worse site search.

This highlights the opportunity that site search vendors like SLI have – to help these sites improve their search.

The section on site search finishes with a summary of a case study and quotes our customer Shirely Tan, from American Bridal.

I recommend reading the report.

Site Search on the U.S. Census Bureau

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Jakob Nielsen posted an interesting article today about the U.S. Census Bureau’s website. The article was primarily about how fancy formatting doesn’t necessarily help attract users eyes but it also contained some interesting information about site search.

The users were classified into 4 groups based on how their eyes scanned the page. The largest group (57%) was search dominant. This is yet more evidence highlighting the importance of site search.
Search Dominant User

Further down the article Jakob criticized the site search quoting one user saying “I know where I can probably find it faster: Google”. I took a quick look at their site search – here are a couple of comments:

  1. The default search only searches their FAQs. This is powered by RightNow, which is a good CRM tool but it doesn’t have a very good search. More importantly a good best practice in site search is to make the default search across all of your content. (See Qantas as an example where we search all of their content including the FAQs hosted by RightNow.)

  2. The RightNow search does have a link to their full site search which ironically enough is powered by Google. It doesn’t have the features you’d expect in a site search such as facets, related searches, ordering options and it looks like a web search – complete with URLs being displayed with each search result, which in a site search is next to useless.

New customers and another birthday

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

In the last couple of weeks we have announced a couple of new customers and SLI’s sixth birthday. The two new customers are the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and A&S BMW Motorcycles.

The NEJM is unusual for us because most of our customers are retailers. Although they had some slightly different requirements – I think our experience at building search for retailers has helped build a significantly better search for the NEJM subscribers, some of whom are extremely particular about the way the search should work. I love it when we find people like this that really care about site search and we can rise to meet the challenge.

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A&S BMW Motorcycles sell new and used BMW bikes and parts. They are the largest etail store of BMW accessories and parts online. Whether you’re looking for handlebar risers or BMW boots you should be able to find them easier now.
bmw.jpg

And we announced our sixth birthday. It’s amazing how quickly those six years have gone by. The company has been profitable for the last 4 years, we continue to grow at a very good rate and the future looks extremely bright.