Here is a step-by-step guide to search optimization for your online store. It includes 5 practical tips from Turum Burum's head of the UX/UI department, illustrative case studies, and an example of the increased conversion rate by 74% after search optimization. Learn more on how to design an effective search in your online store, why the search bar on the website is a growth area, and how to increase conversion rates with it in the article.

Why the search bar on the website is a growth area?

Do not underestimate search on the website, because this feature is normally used by the users who have almost made their choice or regular customers. If, on average, only 5-10% of all the visitors of fashion websites use the search bar, for pharmacies, appliance or book stores, this figure can reach up to 50%.

In general, regardless of the business niche, the website visitors who use search convert much more often than others. When search is properly set up, conversion rates increase by 20-100%. Today 30% of all the site searches end in failure, which makes this feature a growth area and should be paid special attention to.

Example of how we optimized search:

While working on the Intertop project, we discovered that almost 3% of the users, which is about 60 000 visitors per month, used search on the website. However, it worked incorrectly, which caused a high bounce rate.

Search in the Intertop online store before redesign

Using the ESR approach, we went through the search algorithm and corrected the errors. As a result of the changes introduced, the rate of transactions from search increased by 74.64%.

Search in the Intertop online store after redesign performed by the Turum-burum team

Steps to optimize search on the website

Below are 5 steps that will help you optimize the website search design and thus increase the effectiveness of your e-commerce website and improve its KPIs.

Step 1. Customize your search algorithm

First you need to understand what parameters are important for users and what your potential customers might look for. To do this, add Google Analytics tracking to your website to analyze the queries that users enter into the search bar and understand what types they are divided into: brand name, product type, item ID, specific model, product parameters, etc.

After compiling the list of queries, you need to segment it. This will make the basis of the proper performance of search in your online store.

Search on the Yoox website

Step 2. Provide your users with an option of product filtering

After entering a query, the user can get a search results list of dozens or even hundreds of items, which is not very convenient to view. That’s why provide your users with an option to filter and sort products by the parameters that are important for them.

Previously, online stores often used advanced or category search. But this approach works better for big retailers like Amazon, with a huge number of goods. Very often people don’t know how to use such search or have difficulty working with it.

If we talk about trends in e-commerce, faceted search is gaining popularity. Its main advantage is that users can narrow down the selection already after they have received search results for their query, and not before — this facilitates the search for the desired product.

Search results page with faceted search results on the Firstcry website

Step 3. Give some thought to the search bar design

The design of the search bar should be chosen depending on the size and focus of your online store:

  • If it’s a big retailer, search is a key navigation feature on the site and should be accentuated. No matter how well your menu is structured and navigation thought out, finding the right product is not always easy. Search solves this problem.
Search bar on the Amazon website contrasts the header, is easily seen and attracts the user’s attention.
  • For smaller stores, you can make the search bar more compact, display it when it’s pressed upon or presents it in a separate pop-up, that is, have it expanded when clicked upon.

Step 4. Use prompts and autocomplete

Give textual prompts and auto-filling. They serve as tips that help users engage on the site, move on to the product list or product card, and may affect the decision to buy.

Autocomplete and high-frequency queries in the Amazon search

There are two ways to influence the user with prompts:

  1. Direct influence. You get the user to move on to the product card (or micro-convert) faster.
  2. Indirect influence. This is promotion of a certain product by displaying it in prompts. This list should be regularly updated to stay as relevant as possible. For example, if the user enters a query for sneakers, offer him/her the top 3 sneaker brands first.
Example of search in the Asos online store

The format of the prompts and auto-fill you use in your online store search is also very important. For fashion websites and online stores with diverse products it makes more sense to display 3-5 matches and not just text, but also a product photo, item ID, full name, full/discount price, etc.

When it comes to spare parts or some tools, where appearance is not that important, it is better to show as many product parameters and characteristics as possible. This will help the user find the right item faster.

Step 5. Add search by item ID

Offer an option to search by item ID. In this case the user knows for sure what he/she is looking for and the purchase probability is very high. Chances for conversion will be even higher if you add product photos and characteristics to search prompts.

Things to remember about search on the website

Here are the main tips to optimize search on the website from Denis Studennikov, Turum-burum UX/UI department head:

  1. Display truly important information and selection parameters, such as product photo, full name, price, category, item ID.
  2. Analyze search queries to suggest appropriate prompts. Keep them up to date in order to anticipate your customers’ queries.
  3. Search is a good tool for promoting products and categories. Make good use of this opportunity to give additional value to both the business and the customers.
  4. Take into account false queries and typing errors. According to statistics, 20% of the queries are entered in a free form, and 40% — in the Latin alphabet and figures. Think through the key errors and process such queries correctly.
  5. Don’t get your users to make an extra click. When the search icon is pressed upon, especially in the mobile version, have the cursor placed in the input field automatically.

Optimization of e-commerce website search design is more essential today than ever before. Users are more and more often looking for a specific product, and if your search works incorrectly, they will simply go to your competitors. If you need assistance in evaluating or optimizing your online store search, our team is always here for you to help.

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