Enhancing E-commerce Search Relevance for Increased Online Sales

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Time to read
4 min to read
Jan 24 2023
By Roman
Have you ever looked for something on a website and been dissatisfied with the precision of the results? This is poor search relevancy – something many people encounter regularly.

For example, if you're looking for socks in an online store, but the search engine only brings up women's socks – that's terrible search relevance. Chances are you will leave the site and never come back.

That's why search relevance is so important: if customers can't find what they're looking for, they're more likely to go elsewhere where the search will satisfy their needs. Search relevance will affect your customers' behavior and sales performance and hinder your business in the long run.

What is This Elusive Search Relevance?

Intuitively, we all know what it means. If we get down to brass tacks, search relevance is the correlation between a query and provided results: how closely the latter match the former.

Search relevance is made up of 2 elements: search recall and search precision. It's easier to explain those terms using an example:

Imagine a customer typing "plush toy cat" into a search box on an eCom website selling toys and pressing the "Enter" key. The search returns ten results: 6 are for plush toy cats, two are for plastic toy cats, and two are for other plush animals. The search's precision is 60%: 6 out of 10 results matter to the visitor.

Now picture the owner typing the same query. He'll get ten results for plush toy cats (only 6 of which are actually relevant), but he knows the store sells 20 different plush toy cats. That means his search engine's recall is a mere 50%, as it only showed half the stock!

Why is Search Relevance Essential for E-commerce Business Owners?

Customers generally have a low level of tolerance. According to an SLI survey, 3 in 4 visitors will leave in 120 seconds or less if they can't find what they want. That's the most apparent reason why store owners should invest in their internal search engine. There are a couple of other reasons, though:

It helps convert customers

43% of consumers go directly to the search box on an e-commerce website. These are the most valuable visitors: they already know what they need, meaning they are close to making a purchase. They only need to see that a store has the product in stock and for a reasonable price. If users are greeted with fast and relevant search results, they'll quickly become customers.

    It is tied to excellent user experience

    Potential shoppers come for the product, but they stay for the experience: PWC tells us 7 out of 10 consider it pivotal when making a purchasing decision. If visitors' journey through the site was pleasant, i.e., they found what they needed and checked out successfully, casual browsers will turn into clients and return for more of the same.

    It adds to the brand image

    A company's website is inextricably linked to how its brand is perceived. And one of the cornerstone qualities that define a website is navigation: 94% of consumers think of it as the single most crucial feature. And, of course, the search box plays a considerable role in navigation, especially on sites with massive catalogs and layered menus.

    So, how to Improve Search Relevance at Your Store Significantly?

    You can bump up your store's search relevance in many ways without hiring a software developer and getting into the nitty-gritty of boosting and stemming. Our smart no-code search app comes pre-equipped with all of them.

    1. Personalize your customers' experience

    That's a key aspect in shaping your marketing strategy. Shoppers have all the products and services they can possibly think of at the press of a button: what they crave is an offer tailored specifically for them. According to the same PWC study mentioned above, buyers are willing to pay a premium for a personalized experience – and even give up their personal data in exchange for an individual approach.

    Searchanise will help you delight your customers by personalizing the search results they receive. This will improve user experience and drive sales for your business!

    2. Configure weighted search fields

    The term sounds scary, but the concept is pretty straightforward. Search weights are used to improve relevance in search results based on keyword matches across all product fields: title, description, and any additional fields. This means that when visitors do a query such as "red shoes," only relevant products with matching keywords used will appear first.

    Searchanise, however, allows users to control the order in which search results appear by prioritizing certain fields.

    3. Rely on relevant filters

    Filters are a great way to extract relevant search results: they help narrow down search results once buyers enter a search query. Many websites disregard those: only 1 in 3 can boast they provide shoppers with a good experience.

    With Searchanise, you'll get a selection of default filters right from the off (facets like price, vendor, and color), and you'll be able to configure as many custom ones as you'd like to suit your unique catalog.

    4. Use search analytics to study your audience

    Understanding the needs and pains of your customers is the essential step in stocking up on products they'll sweep off the digital shelves. Don't spread yourself too thin by aiming to please everyone. Instead, focus your efforts on your target audience, be it teens trying to show off before friends or corporate clients buying office equipment in bulk.

    To know what they need, analyze what they search for, click on, and purchase – and what they can't find, all using the Searchanise analytics dashboard. Use the data to shape your strategy accordingly.
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    5. Boost your products – or entire collections of goods

    It's a well-known fact that digital natives are a lazy bunch: 95% don't go beyond the first Google results page. But you can do your customers a favor: show your products and entire collections/categories in-search and on the first page of results.

    You can use Searchanise to bring products to the top of the list, get them noticed, and promote the ones you think are most worthy of it to shorten customers' path to checkout.

    6. Ensure your search can handle synonyms

    Synonyms are more challenging to use than literal equivalents, but they can still be effective in helping people find what they're looking for. Different types of people use different words to describe the same thing, and there's no way around that. The best you can do is make sure their alternate terms don't hide your search results from them.

    Using Searchanise, you can create a list of synonyms in seconds so that customers will easily find the items they are looking for. That way, people looking for kicks still find your Air Jordans.
    This is the part of behavioral marketing. We have broken down its benefits and described how to implement it right here.

    7. Have a suggestion dictionary ready

    This is the "Did you mean?" feature. Potential customers don't want to spell out their queries in full because they are on the move and browsing from mobile devices.

    So, suggestions based on what your shopper started typing in the search box's drop-down is a neat idea – and it gives you another way to promote your products right inside the search bar by manually adding your own apt product suggestions in Searchanise.

    8. Use stop words

    These are junk words or special symbols that your customers may use in the search box. Articles and prepositions, for example, will be ignored by default if they appear in a sentence.

    The Searchanise stop word feature allows you to exclude certain words from your search. When this option is enabled, the search engine will ignore words from the stop word list and will not affect the results. So if your visitors are looking for a stainless steel knife and you don't want other knives to show up in the results, you can make "knife" a stop word, thus excluding it.

    9. Offer products on "no results" pages

    According to Baymard, 31% of queries end in "no results,'' and when users get no answers from search engines, there's a high risk they will give up on the site. But by paying attention to design details, you can transform what would otherwise be a disaster into an opportunity for content discovery.

    You can offer recommended products that closely match the search query. Or else break down which queries end in no results using our Searchanise Analytics – and stock up on those goods.
    We've named a few ways to combat a "no results page". There's much more you can glean from our in-depth piece right here.

    Wrapping up

    • Search relevance defines how closely search results match shoppers' intent. Bad search relevance may negatively impact conversion rates and overall sales.

    • One way you can improve your search relevance is by personalizing the search results your customers receive.

    • Another way is to customize the order of search results by prioritizing search fields and setting up filters.

    • Also, you can study the target audience's behavior to ensure the search engine can offer suggestions.

    • Besides, draw attention to products or collections, making them easier for customers to find to shorten your customers' journey to checkout.

    • On top of that, get your suggestion dictionary and stop word list ready to improve search relevance in your store.

    • And don't forget to offer items on the "no results" page, so your customers won't leave your website. Good luck!

    Install Searchanise and solve your store's search relevance issues once and for all!

    “Rock solid performance! I wish we knew about this app a year ago! The intuitive nature of the searches and speed of information make this a perfect app for our web store."
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    "Works great for our needs!
    The Searchanise plugin/service excels where other leading (and much more expensive) search providers have fallen short on our site. We have over 17,000 products and this plugin indexes them flawlessly and creates a top-notch search experience for our customers. Really pleased that we found this one."
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    My last hope was to try Searchanise. I was, and I am still amazed! The search results are PERFECT! The sync speed is AMAZING without bags or delays. And I have never seen such great support. The Searchanise App is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and I really hope someday to find again such a nice team and support."
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    "Searching for a Search app? Try Searchanise. We are totally impressed, works great, it's faster than the default BC search and looks gorgeous in our shop - it's form and function! Supported by wonderful people. Many thanks to Alexey and the team! Excellent app and awesome team"
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    "The results are fantastic.
    We use it on many customers and they are all satisfied. It greatly enhances Magento's search."
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    "I could say a lot of great things about this add-on, but I think this one line suffices; adding the Searchanise feature to your store is one of the most important and rewarding decisions you will make for your business and customers. Not to mention, the team is an absolute delight to work with, namely Angelina Morozova!"
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    Senior Content Marketing Manager at Searchanise

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