What is Internal Site Search?
Internal site search happens when a visitor uses the search box within your website to look for information.
Typically, a visitor reaches a website by performing external searches on search engines, social networking sites, or any other relevant platform. Most websites today, have a lot of information and visitors landing on a site may get lost or confused, unless they are provided a way of getting the information they are seeking at the fastest possible time. Therefore, it is not a surprise that among various other options, the internal site search feature, is being adopted by several sites, especially the shopping sites.
Why should websites have site search?
Before going into the SEO part of internal site search, I wish to touch upon why it is essential that all websites have this feature.
Websites are becoming larger and complex with a ton of information. The average visitor however has less time today to sieve through all the information provided in the website. They want to get to the information that they are seeking in the fastest possible time.
Let us not undermine a fact that a visitor arrived at your site after conducting a search on a search engine, social networking site, or any other platform, and thanks to your Internet marketing efforts, they chose to arrive at your site and not at your competitor’s.
Would you want to lose such a visitor?
If your website is complex with a lot of information and navigation, then providing visitors what they are seeking for in the fastest possible time should be your main objective. One of the ways of doing this is by providing a site search option so that visitors can type in what they are looking for and get to to that information immediately. In the absence of a site search, you are forcing your visitors to sieve through tons of information; today no one has the time to go through so much information, they will get frustrated and exit your site.
Here is an example of the optimized usage of internal site search.
For shopping sites it is essential that they have the internal site search box as the most prominent feature because almost all the searches on their sites are from the internal search box. Overtime, the internal site search has got even more sophisticated, once you start typing in, they provide options so that one can select automatically, just like what we find when we search on search engines. The shopping sites have realized the immense benefits of having the the internal site search feature.
An example of the usage of internal site search from a well-known shopping site. Notice how prominent the search box is!
How is internal site search relevant for SEO?
Many websites have the site search option, but the search box is more ornamental than useful. The search results that show up do not match with what a visitor is looking for, and sometimes nothing happens! You type in a search term and click on search and nothing happens… to the utter frustration of the visitor.
And this is because the site search function is not functioning, let alone provide any results! I wanted to mention this specifically because I have seen this in big branded sites that spend a lot on advertisements, but are apparently unaware of the benefits of having an optimized and functional site search.
This is where SEO and on-page optimization comes into the picture.
Most websites have access to some analytics software. Search Analytics provide some very-very useful information pertaining to internal search. The ones that we must focus on are searches for which there are no results, and searches that provided irrelevant results.
The results from the analysis will help you in coming up with pages that are broken in terms of optimization. One of the applications of the analysis results can be, including the key search terms that a searcher provided, along with similar search terms, long tail search terms, in the relevant pages, and optimizing the pages using SEO best practices. By using long tail keywords and on-page optimization, you will see an increase in the conversion rates overtime.
There is a huge Conversion opportunity in using internal site search
Most visitors come to your website after typing in a broader search term, and when they land up in your site they type in exactly what they are looking for. This is a huge conversion opportunity. If you are able to provide what the visitors are looking for instantly, the chances of the visitor converting becomes much higher.
Conversions can be different types, depending upon the goals of your website,
1. Buying your products and services
2. Subscribing to your newsletter, and even an action such as
3. Bookmarking your page can be a step towards conversion because they found your website useful enough to bookmark it!
If you are not making use of this simple yet effective feature, you may be losing out on the conversion opportunities that the site search feature provides.
What are your thoughts on site search? I would love to get your feedback on this topic.