About 10% of all searches on your site have no results. The “No results” page is an important part of your site and you can benefit from giving it some attention. Your site search logs should show you what search terms visitors use on your site, and what terms generate no (or poor) results. If you already know the answer to this question but you haven’t yet addressed No Results pages, here are some simple ways you can deal with them and give your customers a better site experience:
- Use the Language of Your Customers. Often No Results pages are caused by your visitors using different language than you use on your site. A simple remedy is to incorporate those terms on your site or add synonyms via your site search.
- Expand your Product Lines. Sometimes No Results pages come up simply because you don’t carry the item(s) your visitors seek. So you can use this data to help determine what products to add to your offerings, which can only help you increase sales. Ian MacDonald from SLI customer Century Novelty talks about doing this in this EcommercePodcast interview.
- Incorporate an Auto Complete Feature. Similar to Google’s Auto Suggest, which helps people formulate their query as they type, an Auto Complete feature on your site search will make searching your site easier. And the suggested phrases should always have results – so this helps improve your customers’ experience.
- Show Results with Some of the Words. As explained in his recent blog post “Winning Strategies for No Search Results Pages,” Greg Nedelman suggests that rather than state that no results contain all of the words in the user’s query, show results that contain some of the words. In this example from Smith & Hawken’s site, you can see how we handle this for a search on “sofa bed” (which would normally produce no results).
- Show Spelling Suggestions. Using the Did you mean? To offer spelling corrections for unknown phrases. Spelling suggestions should be drawn from the words on your site so that corrections can be made to site specific search terms including brand names.
- Show Popular Searches. I’m a fan of this because it can help your customers search by knowing what others are searching for when they get no results.
- Show Popular Products. Doing this may cause some confusion, as visitors may not read the message that you have no results for their search term and assume that the popular products are the search results. But, if presented well it can be better than showing no products for the query.
- Show Keyword-specific Banners. If there’s a search term for a product that you no longer stock then a banner may be a good way of saying “we no longer carry this product range – here are some alternatives.”
Do you have other suggestions for handling No Results pages? Or, do you have an anecdote to share about how addressing No Results pages helped you business? If so, we’d love to hear about them.