Site search is the new site navigation.
No one is going to take the time to figure out your site’s navigation and page structure. If someone gets to your site through a web search and they don’t land on the content they are looking for, do you think they are going to spend the time combing through your site to find it? Frankly, even if someone types in your site directly, they still aren’t going to take the time to click around to find what they want. They will hit the back button or start a new web search.
So it only makes sense site search has become more important than ever if you have a site with any amount of depth and breadth. Search is the navigation of the web, including your site.
A search result is really a personalized landing page.
Powerful site search not only helps people to navigate your site and your content more easily, the search result page is really a personalized landing page. Think about it. Just as a web search result page is personalized launch pad to help someone find what they are interested in, the same is true when someone searches your site and gets a results page to review and select from.
A search result page is especially important if your site has a lot of pages, content, or product/technical information. If users can’t find what they are looking for quickly and easily, they will just stop trying and leave.
Robust site search adds to the value you provide.
Your ability to make the use and consumption of your site as easy as possible is really the first step in your collaboration and interaction with the user.
Suggestive and related topics in site search are also very helpful to someone visiting and searching your site. Maybe someone has the search close to what they are looking for, but they are off slightly on spelling or the verbiage around the topic being searched. Suggestive and related topics search can be your initial value and insight to someone using your site. In the moment of someone searching your site you are saving them time and making them smarter.
Effective site search will help reduce bounces and increase engagement.
We’ve all seen the studies. If users don’t find what they are looking for quickly and easily they will just leave your site. Effective site search helps users find what they want easily and simply so they stay and dig in.
The depth of a user’s digging in becomes the next critical factor and site search can help with it too. Users will engage longer and further with your site and content if you make it easy for them to find it. One tip around this is to retain search results for a user until they do a new search. This way when they click on one result and then want to go back to the results page to click on another one, they don’t have to do another search.
Site search isn’t new, but its importance is increasing.
Sites have had internal search for a long time. Frankly, most of the time it is done poorly and it becomes a big hurdle to a user engaging with you to the depth you both want. Google has trained us to not have to know where anything is on the web. Users are bringing this perspective to your site. You have to be prepared to meet users expectation of easily navigating and filtering your site with robust site search.