Site optimization is the only way you can improve your results on your site. You probably spend a lot of time testing and modifying the user experience on your ecommerce website. However, there is one area that needs much more help than many ecommerce business owners give it: site optimization, especially when the search fails. This is inevitable; in some cases, customers will be searching for something that your ecommerce website does not offer, while in others the search term might be misspelled or mangled.
How often this happens or why is not very important. What is important is that your ecommerce website deal with it in the most effective way possible. Here is a short guide to doing just that.
- Focus on solutions. Your first job is not to figure out why this happens or to assign blame; you need first to get customers back into the shopping flow. Every single part of your no search engine results page should be dedicated to this cause. Encourage customers to get back in the flow as quickly as possible
- Accept the blame. We have seen so many ecommerce websites that respond to search engine errors with blaming language: You did not type in the correct search term, and so on. This makes customers either mad or flustered and does nothing to help the situation. You can be a more customer-friendly ecommerce business by accepting the blame, using “I” language such as “I did not understand the search term.”
- Remove unnecessary information. Allowing customers to narrow or refine their nonexistent results is useless and frustrating. Customize your no search engine results pages so that unwanted and unnecessary options are not offered.
- Never show up empty handed. Be sure that your internal search allows partial matching. Most customers will search for too many terms or too specific terms; in fact, this is the most common site search error. Be sure that your website offers a way around this. You can even offer non-product information in your search; sometimes this is what the customers are looking for anyway. Google is the master of this principle. No matter what you type in, you get a result. Amazon has a similar search function.
- Take control. When a customer comes to a no search results page on your website, they are immediately frustrated and consider leaving, or closing their browser. This is a time when you need to take control of the situation. Consider using autocorrect options to give a result, or autosuggestion tools that ask the customer exactly what they wanted in the first place. You can also match purely based on categories, or based on some but not all of the search terms given. The important thing is that you take control of the situation and reduce the chances that the customer will bounce.
- Take notes. You should have a way of tracking who is having no search engine results and why. Maybe there is a new product that you need to offer, or simply a new tag for an existing product. Watch your no search engine results, because they often yield more information than any other part of your website.