Site Search
April 22, 2024

6 Best practices for Site Search Suggestions with Autocomplete

Author imaage
Tamilselvi Ramasamy
Associate Growth Manager
Site Search Suggestion, Search Suggestion

Imagine you're browsing a travel website, looking for the perfect getaway. You start typing "best places to..." but instead of helpful destinations, quirky autocomplete suggestions pop up like "best places to hide from your boss" or "best places to nap on a long flight."

While funny, these unexpected results highlight the importance of well-structured search suggestions. In today's digital age, most websites offer search functions, from e-commerce stores to universities. But how do these suggestions work, and can they be improved? The answer is yes! By using some better practices for optimizing your site search, you can ensure users find whatever they're looking for quickly and easily, boosting their overall search experience and potentially increasing conversion rate for the business.

This blog post will tell you about some best practices one can follow to improve search engine suggestions, so that search results can be made better and quick to reach.

Site Search Suggestion

Autocomplete or Autosuggest? What's the difference?

Before moving ahead to explain the best practices, let's understand the fact that there is a slight difference between the terms "Autocomplete" and "Autosuggest".

Let's understand them using an example.

When we try to search something in the search box, search engines start suggesting some words or phrases to choose from. Most of the time it is from our search history. This is what we call autosuggest, or search suggestions or predictive search.

On the other hand, autocomplete goes one step ahead and start completing your search in the search bar itself. It can save your time and effort, especially when you are search for something with a long keyword.

Best practices for search engine suggestions

Below are the 6 best practices to ensure your search engine is delivering best experience for your users by giving useful search suggestions.

1. Recognize Typos

Ever searched for a specific product online, only to be met with a frustrating "No Results Found" message? Typos and alternative phrasings can lead to missed sales opportunities. Here's why a basic search engine might struggle, and how advanced search suggestions can save the day.

Imagine you're looking for a comfy pair of "athletic shoes" for your upcoming gym session. A basic search engine might not recognize synonyms, leaving you empty-handed. But a smarter search engine understands that "running shoes" or "sneakers" might match your intent, displaying relevant options. Zevi's Neural Search is an NLP based search with takes care of all these factors.

Similarly, a simple typo like searching for "womans dress" instead of "women's dress" could lead to a dead end. Advanced search, however, can often account for these minor spelling errors, ensuring you still see a variety of dresses to browse. In essence, a smarter search engine acts like a helpful assistant, understanding what you mean even if you don't quite get the wording perfect. This not only improves your online experience but also helps businesses avoid losing potential customers due to simple misunderstandings.

2. Ranking for User Success

Determining the order in which the autocomplete suggestions are displayed keeping in mind many factors like search relevance is what er call ranking system.

Below are 3 important things to keep in mind before setting up ranking system.

Popularity Power: Popular items deserve top billing! If users frequently search for "red backpacks," prioritize that suggestion over less popular items.

Specificity Matters: The more specific the search, the more specific the suggestions should be. Someone typing "women's leather jackets, size medium" deserves suggestions that match that detail, not just "jackets."

User Behavior Insights: Keep an eye on what works! Analyze which searches lead to successful purchases and which don't. Use this data to constantly refine your suggestions, ensuring they align perfectly with user needs. By focusing on these key factors, you can transform your search suggestions from a guessing game into a user-centric superpower.

3. Keep it Simple

When people visit your website, they usually have a clear goal to find and buy what they need. To make this process smoother and better, it's crucial to keep things simple, especially when it comes to the autocomplete search feature.

Simplicity can mean different things in autocomplete search. For instance, you might decide to show only a few suggestions to users, focusing on the most relevant ones based on their search.

By doing this, you avoid overwhelming your customers and help them quickly locate what they're looking for without sorting through a lengthy list of options.

Another way to keep it simple is to use straightforward language in the autocomplete suggestions. Do not use Technical Jargon that might confuse your customers. Instead, opt for simple language that accurately describes the products or categories they're interested in. It will also increase conversion rate because people can feel connected when they see the results according to what they perceived.

4. Group Suggestions by Type

By organizing our autocomplete search suggestions into neat categories, it would be easy for potential customers to find what they are looking for. It is very useful when you are searching for something, but you are not quite sure what it's called. With category-specific suggestions, you can quickly get what you're looking for in your suggestions and then it will click in your mind that yes!! you were looking for this.

For this, the trick is to divide the products into clear categories, like fashion, tech, home essentials, and sports gear. So, when you start typing your search, the suggestions should be tailored to the category you're interested in. For example, if you're browsing "kitchenware," you might see suggestions like "cookware sets," "storage containers," "small appliances," or "bakeware."

This will help your potential customer to navigate directly to the category he/she wants, without overwhelming with unrelated choices.

And when the customer finds what he is looking for faster and easier, he is more likely to purchase which will ultimately increase your conversion rate.

5. Quick Loading Time

Imagine you’re on a fashion eCommerce site and you type “sty…” in the search bar. The autocomplete feature should instantly suggest options like “stylish dresses,” “stylish tops,” “stylish shoes,” and so on.

As you continue typing, the suggestions should adapt and become more specific, like “stylish floral maxi dress” or “stylish leather handbag.” This quick and accurate autocomplete feature saves you time and frustration by anticipating your search intent and providing relevant suggestions before you even finish typing.

But if the autocomplete feature is slow or inaccurate, it can lead to a frustrating user experience and potentially cause you to abandon the website in search of a more user-friendly option.

6. Leverage the power of AI with Autocomplete suggestions

Did you know that some of the most advanced search tools today are driven by artificial intelligence? It is not just a buzzword anymore! What AI does is pretty fascinating. It actually studies your search history to understand your preferences and behavior. Not only that, but it also looks at what other users are doing to provide you with the most relevant results.

For example, let's imagine you're running a bookstore, and a customer has been searching for mystery novels and thriller books. Now, when they type "detective" into the search bar, an AI-powered searches won't just suggest any old books – it'll prioritize detective novels based on their previous searches.

But here's where it gets really interesting. These AI-powered searches don't just focus on one user – they look at the collective behavior of all users.

For instance, if a bunch of customers have been clicking on classic novels after searching for "literature," the search engine will take note and feature classic novels prominently in its autocomplete suggestions.

Wrapping Up: Enhancing Your Search Experience

In today's digital world, improving your site's search suggestions with autocomplete is crucial for a seamless user experience. By recognizing typos, organizing suggestions by category, and leveraging AI, you can guide users to their desired results quickly. Remember to prioritize simplicity and quick loading times for optimal user satisfaction. Whether users are searching for smart TVs, browsing their home screen, or seeking more info on Google via iPhone or android, implementing these strategies will enhance their search journey and boost conversions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can autocomplete suggestions be customized for different user preferences?

Yes, autocomplete suggestions can be tailored based on various factors, including user search history, popular queries, and category-specific preferences. Websites can analyze user behavior to personalize suggestions and improve user engagement. For instance, a fashion retailer might prioritize suggestions for trendy clothing items based on a user's past browsing history, enhancing their shopping experience without requiring them to open a new tab.

2. How does AI-powered autocomplete differ from traditional suggestions?

AI-powered autocomplete harnesses advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to analyze user behavior and deliver highly relevant search suggestions. Unlike traditional suggestions based solely on search history, AI considers aggregate user data to offer more accurate and personalized recommendations.

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