The Swiftype Blog / Tag: marketing

Centering Your Website Design Around Site Search


Recently, I took a stroll through The WayBack Machine. Launched in 2001, The WayBack Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web, a veritable treasure trove of Internet information and oddities. Trust me when I say you will find some deliciously horrid early attempts at website design and user experience (UX).

Check out this Amazon screen grab from July, 2000. Yeesh, that’s bad.

Today (thankfully!), Amazon’s website looks like this:

And what do you see immediately upon landing on their site? Search. Big, bold. Upfront and up-top.

Considering a website redesign? You need to follow Amazon’s lead, no matter your industry. Here’s why:

The Evolution of Web Surfing

2017 is predicted to see more website traffic than in all other “internet years” combined! Gone are the days when a consumer would tolerate a website as poorly designed and laid out as the early Amazon one above. Today’s consumers want results, and they want them fast. They don’t want to waste time clicking through menus and drop-downs, which is why rich search capabilities are key.

Users today also expect to find easy-to-navigate search functionality on their mobile devices. Sixty five percent of mobile users say that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for, and expect, the most relevant information to pop up first.

When you mention search today, people immediately think of Google. But the last thing you want is for frustrated searchers to leave your site and head back to Google. If your search capabilities aren’t up to snuff, they will, and they probably won’t be back.

What Makes a Great Search Interface?

A search box is included in almost every web design, but it’s often overlooked or treated as an afterthought. Search makes it easier for users to find the content they’re looking for, as well as the content you want them to see. The search box’s design should support that exchange, be functional, easy to use, and accessible.

Equally as important, the right software powering your website’s search helps you gather information about your users, such as what product information they search for the most, which keywords or queries they are using, and an overall picture of their needs and their pain points.

Here are the top things to consider when designing and optimizing your website search:

Search Box Placement

Do your site visitors have to waste time searching for your search bar? That’s a big no-no. Position it front and center, and include a text bar and an icon (if possible). The ubiquitous “magnifying glass” icon is a great example. Make sure your “submit” button is big and bold, especially on mobile (avoid “fat thumb” syndrome wherever possible!)—and add your search bar to every page. Don’t hide search anywhere “below the fold” or in a navigation menu.

Search Design

Keep. It. Simple. We can’t stress this enough. Design should focus on the box itself and it should be clear how it functions. At its most basic, it should include a full open text field, title, action button and an obvious search trigger. Usability studies show that it is more user-friendly to not have advanced search options/features displayed by default, as they often only serve to confuse and frustrate users.

Search Functionality

An advanced search algorithm and language modeling functionality are the first things to look for. Your system should intuitively know what consumers are searching for using bigram matching, phrase matching, auto complete, and more. Filters on results page add another layer of functionality to your site search, allowing users to easily drill down to find exactly what they’re looking for.

On the backend, an intelligent site search solution should also have user-friendly dashboards that provide detailed analytics, making it easier for your teams to access—and act upon—the search data collected. A smart software will help you see that pattern so you can immediately update search results to keep visitors on your site—and not bouncing back to Google to find a competitor.

Your solution should allow you to:

  • Customize your search results
  • Add results for popular queries
  • Have the option to promote more relevant content, like higher margin products or the latest news stories
  • Control who can view what information and data
  • Integrate easily with your current tools

Your search bar is an essential tool in your digital toolbox and should be showcased both in design and function. If you would like to learn more about how Swiftype can help supercharge your site search capabilities, we would love to chat!

Essential Site Search Terms You Should Know

When evaluating your next Site Search solution, you may come across some terms that you’re not familiar with. We are often asked, What does this mean? From Bigram Matching, to Corpus, to Autocomplete, having a grasp of these common terms will help you better understand and evaluate your next website search engine platform. This post provides you with explanations for the most popular/common site search terms.

Essential Site Search Terms You Should Know

Autocomplete
Autocomplete (also known as typeahead or autosuggest) is a language prediction tool that many search interfaces use to provide suggestions for users as they type in a query.

Bigram matching
Bigram matching is a language analysis tool which advanced search engines use to find results for multiple-word queries that are similar to but not exactly the same as the text in the searchable index. (example: iPhone, i phone, i-phone are all different terms, but the algorithm recognizes them as the same)

Clickthrough behavior
Clickthrough behavior is a type of data that records what results users are clicking on from an SERP.

Constant Crawl
Constant Crawl is a Swiftype feature that allows your search engine index to be updated in real time. This means that any time a page is created or updated, Swiftbot will immediately index the new content and make it available in search results.

Conversions/Conversion rates
In the world of search, conversions occur when users perform a query and click on a result from the SERP.

Corpus
The corpus is the entire body of searchable text in a search index.

Document
The term document refers to a single page or item in a website search index. On a publishing website, for example, a document could be a single article. On an ecommerce website, a document could be a product listing.

Document frequency
Document frequency is the number of times a given term or query appears in a specific document within a larger search index.

Exit rate
Exit rate is a measurement in search analytics that records how often users perform a query then leave the SERP without clicking on a result.

Filtered search
Filtering is a search tool that lets users to restrict their search to a certain section of a website or a specific document type.

Phrase matching
Phrase matching is a language-dependent process which advanced search engines use to identify sets of words that should be treated as a cohesive unit when scanning across a search index for the most relevant documents.

Search query
Queries are the strings of text that users type into a search bar when looking for a specific result or set of results. Queries can be one word or several.

Stemming
Stemming is a language-dependent process of removing suffixes from words so that words with the same root match each other.

Term frequency
Term frequency is the number of times a given term or query apears within a search index.

To see the complete list of keywords, visit our Search Concepts overview page.

3 Tips to Increase Website Conversions with Site Search

As marketers, we’re always looking for ways to tweak our website to improve conversion rates. As a fairly new member of the Swiftype team, I’ve thought a lot about how Swiftype search could have helped me on past projects. I always thought Google was our only option for site search, or that something custom would need to be built. Little did I know there are amazing tools that help marketers focus on marketing without needing extensive IT support. Do you know if visitors are finding the results they expect when they type into the search box on your site? What results are they getting? What if you could control which results they see.

Improve your site conversion rate in three easy steps, just by optimizing one seemingly small, but mighty feature on your site – the search box.

Actually deliver the results your visitors are looking for. How frustrating can it be to find what you’re looking for on certain sites? If your site is returning poor results, you’re leaving your visitors frustrated and unlikely to return. Teams spend a ton of time optimizing site navigation and structure for usability, but your visitors may still be aimlessly clicking through pages looking for what they want. Look for a search solution where you can customize your results or let visitors filter what they’re looking for.  Take control of key information that already exists on your site, and guarantee that your most recent content is included in search results thanks to real-time indexing.

Pin your best performing offers on top. Consider what offers are best at driving meaningful conversions on your site. You can pin these to the top of your search results pages to drive more traffic into that content.  What if your awesome product demos always showed up at the top of search results? Or your best selling products?  Give your customers what they’re looking for, right at their fingertips. You know what converts best on your site, why make it hard for your visitors to find the good stuff.

Create the content of the future. Depending on the solution you’ve used in the past, you may not have been able to track your customer’s search queries, or what results pages they clicked on.  Wonder no more, with a complete dashboard of actionable insights. When you know what your customers are looking for, you can build content or products around the missing pieces.  Your content marketing team will thank you, and your customers will leave your site with the information they need.

As a marketer in charge of driving improvements to our conversion rates, I know I’m always looking for new ways to optimize our site experience for our visitors. Site search is so often overlooked in exchange for testing landing pages or navigation structure, but with the right tools you can make search have a meaningful impact on your conversion rate. Finding a tool that allows you to be flexible and have total control of the results your site displays goes a long way and in the end will help you generate more leads.

11 Ideas to Pin at the Top of Search Results

Result ranking allows you to drag and drop to rearrange results for a specific search term.

One of the coolest features that Swiftype’s site search software offers is the ability to drag and drop to rearrnage results that users see for any search query. Using the Result Ranking tool, the Marketing Team has been having a lot of fun coming up with the different ways to have this feature help us generate more leads and close more business. So, we decided that we would share our top 11 most useful use cases and how they could be useful for our customers.

  1. White paper – If you’re a publisher who offers guarantees for lead gen packages or a demand generation team at a corporation, consider pinning your white papers and ebooks at the top of relevant search queries.
  2. Webinar – Making sure that upcoming and on-demand webinars are at the top of key search results will significantly increase the chances of increasing registrants and upping the percentage that attend.
  3. Video – searches with thumbnails get strong engagement from users. Pinning video testimonials or demos can help your prospect move down the marketing funnel at a much faster velocity.
  4. Unused inventory (so that you can get rid of it) – E-commerce companies always struggle to find ways to get rid of last years collection. Need a new idea? Just pin those SKUs to the top of some converting search queries and watch your inventory fly off the shelves.
  5. Top selling product(s) – Already have a product that’s selling like hot cakes? Then leverage your site search analytics to find other opportunities to sell that product.
  6. Viral article – Similar approach to top selling products. If you know that an article is going viral, then increase the number of search queries that that article should be at the very top of to generate even more engagement.
  7. The day’s top story – For publishers, the day’s top story can sometimes be buried in search results. Make sure that your top search queries show the newest and most relevant top stories.
  8. FAQ/Support pages – If you are seeing that a piece of support or knowledge base content is helping lower call volumes, then find other queries that this content can help support.
  9. Highest priority job posting – Recruiters should take advantage of site search analytics to see what kinds of jobs prospective candidates are looking for. These insights will help you pin your highest priority jobs to appropriate searches to help you generate more applications to that job.
  10. Most recent op-ed – Have an editorial that delivers your company’s new fresh message, make sure to pin it to the top of relevant search queries for highest visibility.
  11. Sponsored content – If you are a publisher who offers your advertisers sponsored content, you can work with your advertiser to make sure that their content is pinned to the top of the search results that they’re trying to target. This is a great money making opportunity and easy way to build deeper trust with your advertisers.

Have any pinning use cases that we haven’t already mentioned? Send them our way at [email protected]—we’d love to hear how you’re using Result Ranking to improve your on site search experience.

Promoting Content Marketing with Custom Result Ranking

For any business pushing a content marketing strategy, every white paper download, webinar registration, and video view is critical to generating quality leads and achieving a positive ROI. While SEO, email marketing, and paid acquisition are all useful strategies to drive users to this content, at Swiftype we also use our own tool to promote content based on user search activity. Here’s how.

Swiftype offers site owners a unique tool to promote content for visitors who use site search: Custom Result Ranking. This tool lets site owners customize the order of search results for a specific query, dragging and dropping existing results to a new order, adding new results that don’t appear by default, or eliminating results they don’t want displayed.

Improve content marketing efforts by pinning gated content at the top of site search results.

With this tool, site owners can “pin” specific pieces of content at the top position for related searches to drive users to these high value landing pages. For example, we have pinned our white paper Understanding Ecommerce Site Search Analytics, as the top result when people search “ecommerce.” With this new result order, we see a significantly higher number of white paper downloads each week that result from site search.

Adding marketing automation landing pages
However, in many cases (including our own) these landing pages are hosted on a different domain than your main website, generated by the specific marketing automation platform your team uses (such as info.website.com, go.website.com, or many others). Because these pages exist on a separate domain, Swiftbot will not automatically discover and index these pages on the initial crawl of your website—meaning they will not initially be discoverable through search. To add these external landing pages to their search engine, Swiftype users can use the Domains tab in their Swiftype Dashboard. Let’s take a look at this process in action.

To access the Domains tab, simply click on the icon from your Dashboard home page or navigation bar. Here you can manage the domains that comprise your search engine index. For example, we combine our main site (https://swiftype.com) and our blog (http://blog.swiftype.com) in one search engine to let users search across both properties at the same time.

Add new domains to your search engine directly from the Swiftype Dashboard.

To add your landing pages, you simply have to add your landing page URL as a new domain. To do so, paste the complete URL of any landing page in the new domain box, then click verify to have Swiftbot index the page and add it to your search engine. Note that because these landing pages often don’t contain links to other pages of the same domain (which Swiftbot uses to create an index from a single url) you may see an alert warning you that Swiftbot will not be able to index additional pages beyond this one landing page. However, this will not cause any problems, and you can simply click Add Domain to proceed.

adding-url-zoom

From here, you can add additional landing pages by managing your domain rules, accessible by clicking “Manage Rules” next to the domain you just added. To add another landing page, simply click “Add URL” in the top right corner and then paste the unique URL of each landing page you’d like to add. Once these pages become part of your search engine, you can add them as a top result (or any other result) to any query you would like from the Rankings tab.

As your users interact with your on site search engine, you’ll be able to see the number of clicks these pinned results receive for specific queries in the Rankings tab, as well as the top referring queries and autocomplete prefixes that lead users to this page by looking at the Details section of each page in the Content tab.

With this tool, Swiftype allows site owners to personally curate search results, giving marketers and site owners yet another way to promote content and ultimately drive their lead generation efforts. For help with this process, or to get in touch with a member of the Swiftype team, email [email protected].

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