Site Search for Ecommerce Checklist

Are you wondering how good your site search is? Or where it stands in comparison to the top tier online retailers? 

We've compiled a checklist based on industry's best practices and our experience. 

Basics

  • Exact search queries Does your search display proper results if a user types a product name or a part number? 
  • Misspelled queries What happens if somebody mistypes a brand name or doesn't put spaces correctly? Customers may type a product name as it sounds or as they remember it. They should see expected results.
    However, part numbers, SKUs and other codes usually should not be corrected automatically. Otherwise a customer might not notice the difference and order a wrong product. 
  • Searching by product attributes Can customers search by a color variation or composition or product category? What if a customer types 32" led tv? Can your site search detect that 32" is a screen size, and led tv is a category name? Does it display products that match both criteria only? If you have a dedicated screen size filter, will it select the 32" option automatically? 
  • Customer language Can your search handle jargon and synonyms? Example: "camshaft kit" instead of "camshaft set". What about subjective qualifiers like "best", "cheap", "cozy"? 

User Interface

  • Autocomplete Does your search have autocomplete functionality? Does it suggest any irrelevant or dead-end queries? Does it suggest products, categories, pages in addition to popular queries? Can customer use keyboard arrows to navigate through suggestions and enter to start the search? 
  • Mobile experience Is your search interface optimized for smaller screens? Usually, the filter panel, autocomplete, sorting, and paging work differently on mobile devices. 
  • Category pages Do you have filters on category pages as well? Can you configure certain filters to be visible or hidden on a category page? 

Behavior

  • Minimizing "No results" Will your search try to fix a search query and return as good results as possible if original query didn't yield any products? It should. Sometimes customers will copy & paste a product name and just removing one or two terms fixes an issue. 
  • Non-product searches Does your search index other site content like pages, blog posts, and FAQ entries? How about PDF and Word files?  
  • Keeping the query The search box should keep the customer's query. That helps customers refine their search easily. 

Ranking

  • Relevancy Does your search display most relevant products first? It should. Are there any unwanted results returned? Are there any products missing? Can you tell why certain products appear before or after others in search results? Can customer easily tell why specific product is returned?
  • Search merchandising Can products be promoted or demoted according to a sale, ongoing or ad-hoc promotion, specific customer group, or keyword? 
  • Incorporating other signals Can you promote best sellers, popular or most-ranked products in search results? Can most-profitable items or categories be boosted? Does your search display out-of stock items or items without images last?

Reporting

  • Popular queries Do you know what your customers are searching for most? This report gives valuable insights for SEO purposes and for marketing team in general.
  • Search importance Do your customers use search actively? What percentage use filters? How many type something into the search box?
  • Bad queries Do you have a report showing which queries didn't return meaningful results? Which search sessions ended up with customers leaving the website? 

What do you think about this list? Are there any items we've missed? 

 

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