Most every online store needs a robust site search feature. Potential buyers need to find things quickly and easily. Search result filters are vital to help guide shoppers to exactly what they want. But what happens when their initial search phrase brings up no relevant results?
I’m not referring to oft-misspelled words, but rather terms that are logical, at least to the consumer. These can be simple phrases used when visitors aren’t sure what something is called, as well as related words that may be used less often. Such search terms can sometimes indicate more fully engaged shoppers.
The minimalist lifestyle, for example, is becoming popular. Minimalism and organization many times go hand-in-hand, so it would make sense for a site like The Container Store to harness the power of that. It doesn’t. Four of my searches returned no relevant products, and the word “declutter” returned zero results.
My point is simple. If you’re not using unique, in-the-now trigger words for the products you sell — even if those words are not present in manufacturer descriptions — you’re missing out. Sell sporting goods? You may sell water bottles, but shoppers may search using terms like “hydration” and “H2O.” Or, someone who can’t remember that Skechers makes a walking shoe lined with its trademarked Goga Mat may simply enter “yoga mat sneakers.”
Boosting relevant search results is not just about helping people find products based on misunderstood terminology. It can also return highly relevant products they didn’t know existed.
Identifying Unique and Trendy Keywords
How do you identify the best, often alternative, trigger words to use in product descriptions or in keyword strings? It can take some time. With focus on the more engaged shopper, though, it’s time well spent.
- Review the store’s internal search data. Start by analyzing the site search log, which should tell you the terms used and number of results. Look for logical keywords or phrases that return few-to-no results. Study the actual results to see if relevant ones are being returned.
- Listen to your shoppers. Chat and call logs are chock full of useful information, especially when someone asks for help in locating a particular product. That lady who called looking for a new pair of gym shoes? She’s just looking for a pair of sneakers. And the millennial who called about the new kicks he saw on the home page? He, too, is looking for sneakers.
- Read relevant blogs and websites. If you’re not taking time to read articles and posts that either talk about the types of products you sell or speak to your target audience, you’re ignoring what really matters. Pay attention to the terminology. Many times you’ll run across more modern keywords and phrases to use. This can also help with your quest to speak with the shopper, which definitely helps convert.
- Understand multiple demographic diversity. Many products are recognized by varying terms. Is it a hoagie or a sub? Is it soda or pop? Are they tennis shoes or sneakers? This is where “also known as” strings come in handy for search. Macy’s, for example, understands that its customer base uses diverse terms when it comes to a woman’s purse. Its search returns the same relevant results on the words “pocketbook” and “handbag.”
- Read customer reviews and customer Q&A. This is the place where shoppers speak in their own language.
- Utilize “Did you mean” or “Also search for…” These features can help guide shoppers to the right products quickly. Then, use that data to determine if the initial search term should be recorded as a keyword or phrase.
- Monitor social channels. Listen to what your company’s followers are saying, as well as the accounts of manufacturers, bloggers and competitors. Just be careful about implementing trademarked terms that don’t apply to your products.
- Embrace some of the terms you might not like. I’m talking about legitimate words that others may use to describe your products. You may not like the word “neckerchief,” but if you sell bandanas it makes since to at least use it as an alternate keyword for search.
- Ask others to describe some of your products to you. You’ll likely be surprised at the different ways others would describe what you sell. Take any potential trigger words and run them through a Google search and see what comes up. If there are several results using the keywords in a title, it’s probably worth adding to the keyword database.
In a time when every small business is competing with huge e-tailers, you only get one chance to keep shoppers at your site. If they can find what they’re looking for first time out, that’s one less reason for them to look elsewhere.