The Swiftype Blog

Improve your site search today with these quick tips

On the modern web, search bars are everywhere. Google, the modern address bar doubling as a search bar, and the prevalence of search tools throughout the web have trained users to expect a search option when they have a clear idea of what they are looking for. This clear idea—intent—makes visitors who use search one of the most valuable online audiences.

The power of Google’s web search and of major internet players’ such as Amazon’s site search often lead to an assumption that all search solutions offer the same experience that your visitors expect. However, if you’ve used many search functions, you know this is not true. While a comprehensive, simple solution to robust site search is the best way to ensure your site doesn’t disappoint your visitors, we’ve put together a list of steps that site owners can take to improve their search experience right away.

  1. Use your search analytics. A search bar is an extremely unfiltered form of customer feedback—a free text box that asks the searcher to type in exactly what they want. This unfiltered feedback should be valued for what it is: a goldmine of analytics on your visitors. Be sure to listen to this feedback, checking for popular searches, searches that return no results, autocomplete selections where applicable, and any other information about what your visitors are looking for. You should then pipe these learnings into your marketing and product strategy. For example, an ecommerce company who sells shoes might notice that their visitors are searching for a brand they do not carry, suggesting that they should consider adding the brand.
  2. Ensure your search is ready for mobile. The share of searches of occurring on mobile websites and in mobile apps is steadily increasing. As users begin to expect their experience to be seamless across their devices, a well-designed and powerful mobile search feature is becoming as important as a desktop search solution. Good mobile search generally includes a prominent, easily accessible search bar, as navigational elements such as breadcrumbs are often difficult to display clearly for mobile visitors. Also, be sure to optimize your results page, autocomplete dropdown, and product thumbnails for the smaller screen space available to mobile users.
  3. Feature your search box prominently and intuitively. Visitors who start with search are your most valuable visitors—as much as 70% more likely to convert than those who avoid search. A search indicates a visitor came to the site for a reason, and a strong search experience moves that visitor to their desired destination quickly and painlessly. Featuring search also encourages your visitors to tell you what they are looking for, critical to an effective marketing and product strategy. To encourage searches from your visitors, make sure your search bar is prominent and intuitively located so that your visitors naturally use the feature. For inspiration, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite search-driven site designs.
  4. Offer autocomplete results. For each additional page a visitor sees on a website, there is an associated visitor drop-off. Offering autocomplete results in a dropdown reduces the time a searcher needs to spend waiting for a results page to load. This streamlined experience will delight your visitors and reduce friction in their experience.
  5. Don’t ignore misspellings. We’ve all made typos when searching for something, either inadvertently or because we don’t know how to spell a tough word. The success of companies such as Google and Amazon in typo tolerance leads the average internet user to expect search tools to protect them from their mistakes. However, most do not come nearly close enough to Google or Amazon in typo protection, causing situations like this:
    Misspellings can cause frustrating no result pages.
    As the screenshot shows, a missed space between words—the most common typo—in a query that should have results can return none. As modern searchers expect typo protection, not accounting for misspellings can lead visitors to believe their intended query has no results, driving them away from your site. Be sure to pay attention to the most common misspellings, and take steps to ensure your visitors do not mistakenly see a no results page.

Many of these issues are best addressed by using a third-party tool that has developed easy tools for managing issues like results reordering, spellcheck, synonyms, and autocomplete. However, each of these issues represent common problems with native search tools, and each can be rapidly improved simply by paying attention to them. We’ll be featuring more tips for improving your search in the future, so be sure to check the blog often. Finally, if you are looking for a solution to each of these issues that you can get up and running quickly, sign up for a Swiftype account and create your first engine.

Swiftype for Desk.com

desk_logo
Swiftype search is an invaluable tool for self-service support centers. That’s why we’re excited today to announce our integration with Desk.com, making it easy for support centers built on Desk.com to bring powerful search to their users. With Swiftype powering your Desk.com support center search engine, site owners get

  • Detailed analytics. See what users are searching for most to identify common user issues, and see what queries are returning no results to identify gaps in your knowledge base. From there, site owners can create content to address these questions, or use Swiftype’s custom result ranking tool to add in search results for any query they want.
  • Custom result ranking. Drag and drop to rearrange search results for individual queries through Swiftype’s user friendly dashboard, add in results that don’t appear by default, or eliminate individual results entirely. With this power, site owners can tightly customize search results for high volume queries, quickly guiding users to the right support content.
  • Complete front end customization. Once Swiftype is installed, site owners can customize the look and feel of their search bar, autocomplete menu, and search results page to match the aesthetic of their help centers. For even more control, it’s possible to work with Swiftype meta tags to specify exactly what information our web crawler indexes as well as add custom fields and data.

And much more. For more information about Swiftype for Desk.com, check out our listing on the Desk.com app hub, or, for more information about Swiftype for self-service support centers and knowledge bases, check out our case studies.

The importance of robust Shopify site search

Swiftype for Shopify

When a shopper visits your store, many have a clear idea of what they want to purchase. Because of their extensive experience with websites like Google and Amazon, these shoppers are naturally drawn to the search bar when they have a specific product in mind. Data bears this out – visitors who begin their visit with search are 70% more likely to convert than those who do not, making them some of the most high value visitors on your site. A strong search engine for your store is key to ensuring that your most valuable customers have a clear and simple path from search to checkout.

Problems

Shopify, along with most other ecommerce platforms, comes up short in providing the type of search experience your customers expect. The reason behind this shortcoming lies in the fact that implementing a powerful ecommerce search engine is a very technically complex problem. While Shopify ensures that you have a search option on all their stores, they have (correctly) allocated their engineering resources towards building a reliable, fast, and user-friendly ecommerce hosting product. This challenge is complex enough without adding the complexity of robust ecommerce search with the features users expect, such as autocomplete, spellcheck, typo protection, and an advanced algorithm that handles phrases and single word searches seamlessly, not to mention optimizing them for each and every one of their users.

The Risks of Weak Shopify Search

Shopify stores with underwhelming search engines miss out on numerous valuable opportunities, not only in maximizing their conversion and customer value, but in customer intelligence. There’s a reason Amazon features search so prominently in its user experience, beyond the conversion benefits: the invaluable user data they collect about their customers’ purchasing habits and click-through rates. Search queries are a direct signal of user intent – a free text box asking simply “What are you looking for?” Store owners should be paying extremely close attention to visitor trends such as their top searches, the most popular products in search results, and the searches that most commonly yield no results, and incorporating this data into both their product offerings and marketing strategy.

Fix it Yourself or Hire a Professional?

If you employ a large development team and have the resources and capabilities to build, maintain, and scale a robust ecommerce search engine, building your own search solution might be the right approach (after all, Amazon does this). However, if you are like the vast majority of Shopify store owners, you chose Shopify as a way to keep your development costs down and aren’t interested in hiring a team of developers who only work on maintaining an excellent search experience. In this case, using a third party provider is likely your best solution, as you’ll have a team of search professionals working full time to ensure you have the best search available. At Swiftype, search is the core of our business, and we have developed a Shopify search product that provides a beautiful and intuitive search experience, a powerful search algorithm addressing the problems of out-of-the-box search, and a user-friendly dashboard that allows non-technical stakeholders nearly infinite customization and control over their store’s search experience (and we’re releasing more dashboard features regularly). We even power search for Shopify. For more information on Swiftype for ecommerce stores, visit our solutions page today, or to install search immediately, follow the link below.

Browsing vs. buying: UX design considerations for mobile shoppers

In 2015, it is not surprising to online retailers that mobile users comprise a major portion of online shopping. Phones are becoming bigger, faster, and more user friendly; kids who have grown up using smartphones and tablets are entering the consumer market in a major way; and ecommerce websites are quickly adapting by building responsive, mobile optimized websites and apps. All of this has contributed to the significant rise in mobile traffic and sales over the past several years, with nearly half of all online traffic and almost a quarter of sales in the 2014 holiday season taking place on smartphones or tablets, according to a recent study by IBM. The takeaway is clear: today’s consumers expect seamless mobile shopping experiences, and online retailers need to adapt quickly to keep pace with industry leaders.

Mobile traffic is growing, but desktop still dominates in sales.

However, a closer look at this data suggests that the division between mobile and desktop shopping is not so black and white. After splitting mobile traffic and sales data between tablets and smartphones, it seems clear that many users have different preferences for what device they browse with vs. what device they actually complete a purchase on. For instance, IBM’s data reveals that although smartphone traffic more than doubled that of tablets, sales on tablets were over four percent higher. This contrast, coupled with the relative swell in desktop sales vs. desktop traffic, suggests that smartphones are primarily used for research and browsing, while tablets and desktops are favored for completing transactions.

What can site owners learn from this behavioral trend, and how can they optimize their mobile shopping experience(s) to satisfy these browsers? The answer to this question revolves around two main topics of discussion:

  1. What elements of the user experience are most important for researching and browsing?
  2. Should site owners focus on building apps or creating mobile optimized web browsing experiences?

Let’s explore these two questions independently before returning to a discussion of where mobile shopping UX design might go in the future.

User Experience: how to build for browsers

Compared to desktops, mobile phones do not offer nearly as much space on the page to place navigational elements, such as product categories. These elements could be placed in a dropdown menu activated by a single “menu” link, but these can be difficult to design and clunky for smartphone users. A better alternative is to feature a prominent search bar that persists across all subdomains, allowing shoppers to search, browse, and re-search without having to go back at any point in the process. Amazon is a leader in this respect, with a large search bar that provides autocomplete suggestions for users as they type. Statistics clearly demonstrate the importance of search for mobile browsers. A recent survey by Harris and IAB of over 2,000 smartphone users revealed that search is the primary portal through which users find new content on their mobile devices.

Furthermore, product thumbnails should be enlarged to compensate for the reduced screen size—basic responsive design is not enough if your search results are still displayed in a 4×4 product grid on a small phone screen. Additionally, users should be able to zoom in on high resolution product images so that they can look closely before adding them to their cart. These UX changes are relatively simple but important principles that should inform both mobile optimized and application UX design.

Prioritization: creating apps or optimizing for smartphones

In an ideal world, site owners would not need to make a decision on this issue, instead allocating engineering resources to simultaneously build an app and mobile optimized browsing experience independently. However, most websites lack the resources to move so quickly on this front, and are forced to adopt a strategy for developing one before the other. Internet Retailer’s 2015 Mobile 500 report presents a key statistic in this debate, revealing that 80% of online shopping takes place within an app, and that users within an app are 30% more likely to convert. This means that more traffic and sales flow through apps, making a seemingly clear case for focusing on app development.

Still, mobile browsing experiences should not be overlooked. As we touched upon earlier, many online shoppers begin by browsing on their phone even though they often won’t ultimately complete a purchase through this channel, making this mobile browsing experience a critical first impression. Furthermore, Internet Retailer admits that the 80% of traffic in apps statistic is, “surely skewed by large numbers of loyal users of apps from big players such as Amazon.com and eBay.” Taking these caveats into consideration, mobile browsing remains an important UX priority.

Looking forward

Though desktop remains the dominant platform for shopping research and sales, its share of online sales and traffic has been on a steady decline for years. Today, a failure to address mobile design translates to lost opportunities, especially when mobile browsing is considered as the “first impression” that modern shoppers have of an online retailer. For details on how Swiftype helps websites deliver superior mobile browsing and in-app search experiences, check out our mobile solutions page today.

Laser Focused: B2B ecommerce white paper

Today we are excited to announce our first white paper: “Laser Focused: Why B2B Buyers Demand Powerful Search”. This report synthesizes a number of ecommerce and B2B reports from 2014, but places a special focus on buyer behavior and the importance of site search for the B2B consumer.

Download Laser Focused: Why B2B Ecommerce Buyers Demand Powerful Site Search.

Internet Retailer’s industry-wide October survey of B2B professionals revealed that site search is the most important feature that buyers look for on a supplier website, making it clear that powerful site search is a clear competitive advantage in the quickly changing space of B2B ecommerce.Laser Focused discusses the underlying reasons behind this trend, and provides concrete recommendations about what site owners can do to improve search on their store in 2015. Along with this discussion, the white paper addresses questions such as:

  • How has the growth of online shopping transformed the traditional model of B2B commerce, and how have consumer expectations shifted over time?

  • What are the key differences between B2B and B2C buyers? What are their similarities?

  • Why is a basic search algorithm insufficient for B2B buyer behavior? What advantages do more robust, complex algorithms provide?

  • What does a powerful search experience look like? What are the options for implementing powerful search on ecommerce websites?

To download Laser Focused, click on the link below. To get in touch with a team member today to talk about your search, contact [email protected].

Year in review: our favorite implementations from 2014

To kick off 2015, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite 2014 Swiftype implementations across a range of different websites to demonstrate the results that some of our users have been able to achieve. In all, Swiftype started powering search on thousands of websites this year, and served billions of queries. Nearly three years after launching, we are excited that so many people have found Swiftype to be such an integral part of their website, and we want to share these stories to inspire users in the future.

Qualcomm

Qualcomm is a global semiconductor company that designs and markets wireless telecommunications products and services, serving millions of customers worldwide, with more than 25,000 employees across 150 offices. When Qualcomm approached a leading web development agency to help them rehaul their existing website, search was a top priority. Because Qualcomm offers such a wide variety of products and services, they wanted to create an easy browsing experience to let customers hone in on exactly what they are looking for quickly.

Qualcomm made search a central pillar of their website user experience.
Qualcomm’s search implementation is great for several key reasons. To begin with, their search tool is prominently displayed on the left side of the page and remains visible on every page of the website. This makes it easy for users to search, browse, and re-search without needing to scroll to the top of the page. Another aspect we like is their autocomplete and faceted search options. The combination of these two features cuts down the time users need to spend searching by directing them straight to content they are looking for and letting them refine their results without moving to a separate results page. Lastly, we are happy to see the great results that this web development agency produced with Swiftype—providing their clients with a powerful search engine without the need for back end development work.

HubSpot

HubSpot is a major inbound marketing and sales platform that came to Swiftype for help powering their knowledge base search engine. While HubSpot’s support team had spent countless hours developing helpful content to answer user questions, their previous search solution did not allow enough control over their search experience. By switching to Swiftype, HubSpot was able to completely customize their search engine and create the user experience they hoped for.

Hubspot is a great example of powerful search over a large knowledge base.

HubSpot’s search is simple yet effective. For starters, we appreciate how they prominently displayed the search bar on their support page—a clear prompt for users to begin their support questions with a search. Furthermore, the placeholder text in the search bar clearly tells users how to interact with the search box, reassuring them that they should feel free to “type your question here.” From there, the fast autocomplete drop-down is color coded to differentiate between “quick answers” and “user guides,” letting users choose results based on the article type. Similar refinement options are available on their results page, where users can select the types of articles they’d like to see displayed.

Qualified Hardware

Qualified Hardware is a B2B retailer that sells high quality door and lock hardware. Before switching to Swiftype, Qualified Hardware was using a home-grown search solution that was costly to maintain and often failed to return relevant results for the highly specific queries that their customers were performing (such as item or part number searches). Swiftype’s powerful search algorithm helped return better results immediately, and to bring their search to the next level, Qualified Hardware took advantage of Swiftype’s custom meta tags to create a highly refined relevance model, as we’ll discuss below.

A quick search will immediately reveal the great work that their team put into styling their autocomplete with suggested brands, categories, and specific products. The results page also offers the option to display products in a grid or list format. These elements give users a great front end experience, but what makes this implementation truly outstanding is the skill with which Qualified Hardware leveraged Swiftype meta tags to deliver highly relevant results based on a wide range of product attributes.

Qualifed Hardware distinguished itself by creating a highly refined relevance model optimized to drive conversions.

Swiftype meta tags are a unique tool that any site owner can leverage to pass specific information to our web crawler as it indexes your site’s content. This allows site owners to fine-tune their relevance algorithm and deliver highly relevant results (for specific details about using Swiftype meta tags, see our tutorial). Qualified Hardware used this tool to its fullest extent, listing detailed information for each product such as popularity, whether or not the item is in stock or needs to be special ordered, the product SKU, and more. A quick peek at their source code on a product page will demonstrate just how extensively they used this tool. Once this information was indexed, Qualified Hardware was able to tweak their search algorithm to feature popular products, move special order products to a lower position for general queries, and overall optimize their results for conversions.

Modern Healthcare

Modern Healthcare is a leading source of healthcare business news, research, and data, with thousands of articles and publications. Before Swiftype, Modern Healthcare used their CMS’s default search function, which was slow, produced poor results, and was difficult to customize. Swiftype gave them improved speed and relevancy, with the ability for non-technical team members to customize search results.

Modern Healthcare's search bar is easy to find across their whole website.

Like Qualcomm, Modern Healthcare made their search bar easy to find by floating it in a static header element that follows users as they scroll down the page. This makes it easy for users to always have access to search and begin a new browsing process from any page on the site. Once users begin searching, the autocomplete quickly suggests articles, while displaying thumbnails of images associated with each article. Finally, on the results page, users have the option to refine results by publication date— ensuring that results are from the specific timeframe they have in mind.

These implementations demonstrate some of the incredible results our customers have been able to achieve with Swiftype. If you’re thinking about taking your search experience to the next level, we’re here to help make it happen. To see how Swiftype can work for you, contact [email protected] to request a demo.

How Swiftype Improved Relevance for Instructables.com

 

Search is one thing, but powerful search is something different altogether. Instructables.com, an online community for people to find and share do-it-yourself projects, realized this after struggling with Solr for years.

Instructables employees were frustrated by a search engine that returned very basic results for broad searches and failed to return results for misspelled or overly specific queries. Moreover, the Instructables staff had spent countless hours tracking and quantifying the quality of their user-generated content by popularity, tags, and other metadata, but their search remained a “black box” that only returned very simple text based results. Because search is the core navigational tool on the site, they needed a solution that would deliver “good” results that drew upon the rich metadata associated with each project.

To fix this problem and deliver better search results to their visitors, Instructables came to Swiftype. For the past three years, we have finely tuned our search algorithm to deliver outstanding search results out-of-the-box.

After implementing Swiftype and fine-tuning their relevance model to draw upon this metadata, Instructables saw a dramatic improvement in their search results for a wide range of queries. Now, users were seeing more popular and overall better projects. Let’s explore these improvements by looking at a number of query types and comparing their results from before and after implementing Swiftype.

  1. Overly generic searches. Swiftype improved results for broad searches by digging deeper into the metadata, weighting results based on a combination of project popularity, project title, individual step titles within the project description, and more. This combination surfaced results that the instructables staff knew were better projects, with more detailed instructions and higher user ratings, instead of simply populating a list of projects with the same title as the query.
  2. Overly specific searches. Before Swiftype, users who searched for specific projects, such as a “diy stethoscope,” would only see a handful of results for very exact matches. Now, users see a wider range of results and have more options to choose from.
    Swiftype helped Instructables surface more relevant content for queries that previously returned few or no results.
  3. Misspellings. Instead of only showing results for projects that include the same misspellings as the query, Swiftype’s algorithm automatically corrects these spellings by noticing if a similar query has significantly more results. Additionally, Swiftype’s search algorithm learns from the corpus of searchable text in Instructables’ index, making the spelling tolerance model specifically tailored for the query patterns of Instructables’ user base. This is particularly notable for an obscure query such as “Arduino,” which is not an English word but is nevertheless important and popular on Instructables.com.

These several examples only scratch the surface of the many algorithmic improvements that Swiftype brings to site owners. On the modern web, users expect powerful search engines that draw deeply from website databases to deliver relevant results. To hear more about what Swiftype can do for you website, check out our solutions pages or contact our sales team today.

Blind Spots: How to Learn from “No Results” Pages

For site owners thinking about their internal search engines, the prospect of users seeing a “no results” page is a major fear. No results pages frustrate users and make them leave your site—if a site-wide search doesn’t populate results for their query, who can blame these users for assuming that this website doesn’t offer the content they are looking for?

From the perspective of the site owner, a “no results” page means one of two things: (i) either the website search engine is not powerful enough to find relevant content, or (ii) the website simply doesn’t have content for that query. In both cases, these no result queries reveal key blind spots that site owners need to look closely at to improve their user experience. Let’s look at these two possibilities in detail, suggesting what site owners can do to address these problems.

What are users searching for but not finding on your website?

Possibility #1. Your search engine can’t find relevant content. Modern web browsers are accustomed to powerful search on websites such as Google and Amazon, and they expect the same search experience across the web. However, most websites have weak search engines that are ill-prepared to handle anything beyond very basic, one-word query types. A high number of “no results” pages indicates that your site search engine is built on a relatively simple search algorithm, and it is worth questioning whether an improved site search solution would address this issue. Is your site search algorithm prepared to handle the following query variations?

    • basic misspellings
    • pluralization
    • prefic/suffix additions
    • missed spaces or punctuation
    • mutiple word phrases
    • synonyms

Possibility #2. Your website doesn’t have content for a particular query. An obvious reason that users might see a no results page would be that your website simply doesn’t have content to meet this users’ needs. You may be aware that users are hitting a no results page for a certain percentage of searches performed on your website, but have you spent the time honing in on exactly what these dead-end searches are? Analyzing user search behavior offers site owners unparalleled insight about user intent—by listening to exactly what users are searching for, you can iteratively improve your website to meet your audience’s needs.

An obvious response to a no results query is to create content to cover these blind spots, but this is only possible if your search system provides you with this information. When thinking about how to optimize your site search experience, be sure to think about harvesting the vast amounts of data that a site search bar produces. Consider the following examples of ways that a range of websites might leverage information on their no result queries to drive content development:

  • An ecommerce site realizes that users are searching for a particular product that is not currently offered. In response, site owners order a major shipment of this product and capitalize on demonstrated user interest.

  • A customer support team notices that users are searching for “change payment information” but seeing no results, forcing these users to write in time-consuming support tickets. To reduce these inbound tickets, a support team member writes a comprehensive article on payment information to satisfy user searches.

  • A news website launches with a focus on American political issues, but users are also searching for content on foreign affairs and finding no results.  To maintain site traffic, the company hires a foreign affairs writer to supply fresh content.

Aside from creating content to fill these blind spots, site owners should make targeted adjustments to search results for individual queries by adding in results that they think would be particularly helpful, or deleting results that might be irrelevant.

Because search is a such a natural entry point to a website’s content, it is essential that site owners take strategic steps to minimize “no results” pages and keep users on their sites. For specific information on how Swiftype can improve search on your website, visit our solutions page today.

Why Online Publishers Need Better Search

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
    Powerful search allows users to drill down and find the content they are looking for.
  4. 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.

For a detailed look at how publishers can benefit from great internal search, see how Dramafever saw a direct return on their investment in search.

The Online Shopping Migration: Thanksgiving Weekend Review

The continued rise in online shopping has had a tremendous impact on the traditional holiday shopping cycle. As the National Retail Federation reported Sunday afternoon, overall sales and shopping traffic from Thanksgiving weekend noticeably decreased from 2013, a trend that NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay attributes to “a strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online.” The statistics clearly illustrate this consumer migration to online vs. in-store shopping, with online sales increasing by 32% on Thanksgiving day and 26% on Black Friday. Cyber Monday, famous primarily for online shopping, has also seen an 8.1% increase in online sales over 2013 as well.

Perhaps more interestingly, this shift to online shopping has fundamentally disrupted the cycle of Thanksgiving weekend shopping. As Business Insider explains, Black Friday first came into being because so many Americans were able to shop on their vacation day after Thanksgiving. Now, with the advent of online shopping, designating this Friday as the national holiday for shopping has become “pretty arbitrary.” Because online shopping sales on Black Friday are growing at a faster rate than Cyber Monday, Adobe Systems forecasts that next year Black Friday will surpass Cyber Monday as the top grossing day for online retail sales in the US (see graph below).

The growing importance of Black Friday for online retail sales.

Because shopping is shifting so heavily to online, and online shoppers are not bound by time or space, online retailers should expect a steady trickle of sales throughout the rest of the holiday season. This makes it all the more important for site owners to look closely at their data from the past weekend and optimize their website for conversions in the coming month. Among the data available, site owners should pay special attention to what users searched for on their site, especially those queries that returned no results. From there, the results for these dead end queries should be customized so users always find the products they are looking for.

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