Internal Site Search engine

eCommerce Internal Site Search Engine

This article will help you learn about the importance of an effective eCommerce site search engine and the primary elements for building an effective internal site search mechanism. This article will also cover the differences between an eCommerce internal site search and a regular search engine. Last but not least, you will learn how Named Entity Recognition (NER) makes search results more relevant in an eCommerce website.

Importance of an effective e-commerce site search engine

In today’s world, customer’s expectation is very high while visiting any e-commerce website. They want to find their required product quickly and efficiently to get any details on Google, Bing, or any other typical search engine.

Generally, on average, the following behavior is overserved for customers using site search:

  • 10% — 15% of site customers utilize search on the site
  • 30% — 40% of site transactions and revenue come from these customers
  • The average conversion rate (CVR) of these customers is 3–5 times compared to regular customers
  • The average order value (AOV) of these customers is 25% to 50% higher than regular customers

From the above facts, we can observe that an e-commerce site with an effective site search has the upper hand compared to websites not having one.

Benefits of an effective internal site search for customers

Reduces friction in the search experience

Effective internal search enables a streamlined and more efficient search process for customers to get to the required product(s) quickly by reducing the touchpoints.

Provides better relevance for each query

Most of the times, customers get overwhelmed by an overabundance of vague or off-target search results, too few, or, in some cases, no results at all, an effective site search improves the experience of a customer by providing precise and relevant results.

Improves UX for customers

An effective internal site search enhances the user experience by providing intuitive facets and filters to filter and give them the capability to sort and filter products based on personal preference and requirements.

Benefits of an effective internal site search for companies

Increases customer retention on the site

Generally, the retention rate is 2–3 times higher for an eCommerce site with an effective site search than a website without one.

Uncovering customer intent

One of the main challenges for an eCommerce site with diverse categories is a lack of visibility into or understanding of what customers are looking for; a practical internal site search function can give a company a direct line to this information.

Improves product discoverability

Another primary challenge for an eCommerce site with diverse categories is product discoverability due to huge catalog sizes across varied product categories; a practical internal site search function improves product discoverability by helping customers get their required product(s).

Difference between eCommerce internal site search and standard search engine

Intent

While all search queries entered on regular search engines are intended for a quick and desired response. While on eCommerce, the customer intends to search for products to buy.

Algorithm

The complexity of algorithms that runs behind typical search engines needs to understand human language and respond typically for every query entered. eCommerce search engines work with just one factor in mind “show products with their ability to sell,” better a relevant product is shown, the better is its possibility to sell.

Core ranking factors

A regular search engine ranks and optimizes a website to increase its click-through rate on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). E-commerce sites rank products based on ‘Sales,’ including Conversion Rate, Keyword Relevance, and Customer Satisfaction.

Comparison of search engines

Different elements involved in the backend to show relevant results for both types of search engines.

7 Elements of an effective internal site search mechanism

  1. Prominent placement and functional design of the search bar: ECommerce should put the search bar at central areas on a site, that is, the top right corner or top center of the page, to improves accessibility and usability.

  2. Provide relevant search results with balanced recall for a search query: The most crucial component of having an effective site search is providing relevant products for a search query while maintaining product recall (number of products shown on the Search Result Page (SRP) of a query).

  3. Have an effective ranking system: Effective ranking of search results is essential for showing relevant search results. ~90% of customers don’t go beyond the first page of an SRP, so it is imperative to showcase the top-selling/top-rated products on the top.

  4. Offer autocompletion option in the search bar: Including an auto-complete option in the search bar is another effective way of making the search experience smoother and more accessible for customers and improving UX.

  5. Provide synonym results for search queries: Many of the products/categories on the site can have multiple synonyms, like “sofa” and “couch” have a similar meaning, so providing search results for synonyms helps in improving conversion by providing a more extensive set of results on the SERP.

  6. Provide the “Did you mean” option for typos: Shoppers often get zero search results when they don’t spell the product name correctly, so showing ‘Did you mean’ with alternatives results to the search query will make sure they find products for their intended search query.

  7. Provide alternate results for queries with very low recall, or zero results search queries: Many of the long tail/exact search queries like “Nike Zoom 7000 Running Shoe” may have zero relevant results due to multiple reasons like out of stock or exclusive availability on a site. In such cases, providing alternate results with similar products will help retain customers and improve UX.

Additional elements of an effective internal site search mechanism

  1. Provide effective filtering/sorting option in search results: Another component of an effective site search is to provide the option to filter/sort search results based on price, category, size, color, etc., while maintaining the search relevancy of the query.

     

  2. Provide curate search landing pages: Provide curated landing pages for top queries like “Nike” or “iPhone” on a site not only increases the user experience but also helps in cross-selling and upselling.

     

  3. Provide personalized experience: In today’s competitive eCommerce business showing personalized results had become a key component to improve conversion. Personalization can be done on various factors like region, brand affinity, price range, etc.

     

  4. Provide multi-lingual search: Countries like Canada, India where multiple languages are spoken across the country, providing multi-lingual search support in such countries helps in reaching to broader customer base.

     

  5. Have an effective feedback loop: Providing a better UX on an eCommerce site is vital to have an effective feedback loop to improvise search algorithms and search settings

How Named Entity Recognition (NER) makes search results more relevant in an eCommerce website?

site search and NER

Example of Named Entity Recognition (NER) usage on an e-commerce website:

  • In simple words, NER helps in understanding the intent of a search query as it is very challenging to understand the real customer intent behind a query due to varied products on an e-commerce site.

  • For example, in the above search query “red check casual dress for women,” NER can help us identify that red is a color, check(s) is a pattern, casual is a style, the dress is a product type, and women is gender.

Conclusion

We can conclude here that having an effective internal site search system with algorithms like Named Entity Recognition (NER) and dynamic ranking of products can help an eCommerce company show relevant products for any search query by knowing the true intent behind it. It is very fruitful for any eCommerce company. It helps them improve sales and conversion by showing customers products they want to buy and improving the user experience, thereby retaining more customers.

Originally published on Medium by

Lohit Borah

Graduate Student, Business Analytics at the University of Cincinnati with 5+ years of analytics, consulting, and data science experience.

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