You’ve spent weeks crafting your website, and it looks great.
At a glance, visitors can see exactly what your company sells, and what you stand for. You have a navigation at the top of the page that brings users to your pricing page, an ‘About Us’ page, and a blog. There are even clear CTAs that encourage visitors to get in touch with your sales team. You feel confident that this website is going to bring in a ton of new leads for your company.
But what happens when someone lands on your site with a very specific question about your product or service?
They click a few links in your navigation, but can’t find an answer. Frustrated, they go back to Google, land on your competitor’s site and find exactly what they are looking for.
That’s a big missed opportunity for your sales team to convert a site visitor into a customer. This visitor had a specific question they were looking to answer when they landed on your site, and the navigation you were previously so confident in didn’t get them an answer quickly enough.
That’s where site search comes in. If Google indexes all the content on the internet and makes it quick and easy to find, site search will do the same for your specific website, making it easy for your visitors to find an exact answer to their question. It tailors their experience on your website in a way that isn’t possible through just your navigation.
People using site search have a specific goal in mind. They’ve already gathered all the information they need to make a decision, and they’re simply trying to find a specific product or service on your site.
This is especially true for ecommerce companies. Offering them a simple way to search through your site’s content will go a long way in converting visitors into customers.
Compare this with people who simply click through your navigation. These visitors are simply collecting information, and weighing their options. Maybe they’ll click the link to your blog and peruse a few articles, instead of looking for an exact blog post that answers a specific question.
Search is an integral part of any well-built site, but it has largely flown under the radar for the past couple of years due to Google’s dominance over the space. Google’s own Site Search product made it easy to quickly implement a powerful search engine on your site.
Then in 2017, Google announced that they would be deprecating their Site Search product, and would only offer the free version of the product. Google’s free Site Search offering comes with Google Branding, it takes visitors away from your site, and it's ad-supported -- meaning a competitor’s ad could potentially appear higher than your own organic results. That's obviously not ideal.
For businesses looking to scale, Google’s Free CSE simply won’t cut it. A number of enterprise search solutions, such as Swiftype and Algolia seized the moment and are publishing instructions on how to transition from Google Site Search to their solution. Here at HubSpot, we’ve created our own site search solution that will auto-index all of your content as soon as you press publish.
So why has Google deprecating their site search solution created such a frenzy to find a replacement?
Apart from assisting site visitors that are sales-ready, analyzing site search data can go a long way in improving your overall visitor experience, and also help your service, marketing, and web teams better serve your customers.
Ask anyone who has ever worked in customer support, and they’ll tell you that a large portion of their time is spent simply directing people to already documented solutions in a knowledge article or community forum.
This is not only time consuming for your support reps, but its not a great experience for your customers either. According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers try to find a solution themselves before they reach out to a support line. Implementing site search gives your customers the opportunity to solve for themselves.
This will also free up your support team to focus on more mission critical tasks, and can save your service organization a lot of money over time. Companies like Survey Monkey are seeing great results by implementing site search in their help centers. Out of all the people who visit their help center, 96% are able to solve their problem without having to directly contact support.
Your marketing team can gain a lot of insight on your target audience by analyzing exactly what your customers are searching for on your site. Running a search-log analysis not only gives you insight into what your site visitors are trying to find, but it also lets you know how frequently they are searching for something, and what specific language they use to describe the problem they are having, or product or service they’re looking for.
This could inform your marketing team’s decision to release a series of blog posts to address specific questions your visitors have. Maybe you already have that content created, and you simply need to promote it on social, or create an ad campaign to target specific visitors with that content. Search-logs give your marketing team a unique opportunity to tap into the thought process of your site visitors.
Finally, your web team could use search analytics to inform how they structure the site. Letting people search for those niche questions they have is great, but what if they’re commonly searching for your blog, or your pricing page? If these resources used by most site visitors are frequently showing up as searched for terms, you might want to consider featuring them more prominently on your home page or main navigation.
Do you have site search implemented on your site yet? Give it a try and see how quickly adding search to your main navigation can help your sales, service, marketing, and web teams.
Originally published Jun 1, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated July 12 2019