In the last few weeks, we’ve written about why ecommerce stores can’t afford to ignore site search, as well as why great self-service support centers need great search. Continuing our series, today we’re covering the reasons why online publishers need to invest in search to maximize their potential:
- Search helps visitors find content. This seems obvious, but returning relevant results for anything beyond very basic one-word queries requires a complex search and information retrieval algorithm -something most native search applications can’t provide. One example of this is phrase recognition. For example, if a visitor performs a search for “2016 presidential election,” basic search engines will return results based on how relevant articles are to the term “2016,” “presidential,” and “election” separately, rather than recognizing the three words as a single entity and prioritizing results to rank articles with all three terms higher.
- Strong search will keep visitors on your site. If readers enjoy your content, it is very likely that they will want to explore the archives to find more. If visitor searches yield irrelevant, or worse, no results, the key performance indicators content websites care most about, such as time on site, pages per visit, and exit rate, will suffer. Conversely, if searches yield highly relevant, engaging results, those same KPIs will improve. These improved KPIs will also dramatically increase your value proposition for advertisers.
- Search should allow users to refine their results. After performing an initial search, readers may want to refine their results based on topic, author, or publication date. By giving these readers this option, you empower them to hone in on exactly what they are looking for.
- Search analytics can drive content strategy. Search analytics give site owners a unique opportunity to directly listen to what users want from a website, but this data is often overlooked. By looking at top searches, publishers can get a better sense of what articles are popular and decide what to feature on their homepage. On the other hand, site owners can look at the top queries that returned no results to determine what content needs to be created.
Today, users expect relevant results for a wide range of query types. Powerful search will quickly satisfy visitors and keep them on your site, but weak search results will quickly frustrate users and cause them to look elsewhere for content. By investing in robust, high-quality search, publishers can not only delight their visitors with relevant content, but dramatically increase their site’s value.