When you're running an online store, how easily your customers can find products on your website is crucial to conversion and sales. What you need is a powerful site search engine (i.e. a search engine that finds products only on your website) to enable shoppers to get to their desired products as quickly as possible. This is especially true when you're going neck-to-neck against marketplaces such as Amazon.
It is important to set up and configure your store and site search engine in such a way that when a visitor searches for something, the products displayed appear in an optimal order. Such an optimal ‘product ranking’ aims to ensure that visitors can find highly relevant search results as high up as possible, and don’t have to keep scrolling to find what they want.
Online stores that provide a smooth and relevant search experience typically see better sales and more repeat customers. Hence, knowing how to optimize product rankings using your site search engine is something all online store owners should be familiar with.
How store owners can optimize product rankings with a site search engine
1. Make titles, descriptions, and tags more detailed
The more context a search engine has about a product, the better it can “decide” how relevant it is with respect to a given search query. The most common way that store owners can provide additional information about products is through detailed or specific titles, descriptions and tags (which are collectively part of what is called ‘metadata’).
Older, keyword-based search engines depend mainly on ‘string matching’ to compare the words in a query with the words in product metadata. More modern, AI-based search engines can figure out the “search intent” behind queries; however even if they “know” the search intent behind a particular query, they still need rich information about the products a store has in order to match them up in a relevant manner.
You can use search analytics to learn what your customers are searching for, and where applicable, add those keywords in your product metadata. In addition, tags are a good place to add synonyms. The more detailed your metadata, the better product rankings you can expect.
2. Use shuffling based on various criteria
‘Shuffling’ refers to automatic ranking based on user-defined criteria, such as revenue generated, user ratings, click-through rates, etc. Ecommerce merchants can configure the criteria to be used on a dashboard, and the site search engine automatically takes them into consideration during every search, providing a dynamic experience.
In other words, if the top-rated products change between two searches, and the rating is the main criterion to be followed, then the search results will be different for both searches, even for the same customer. This allows for a more personalized and relevant search experience, which in turn can increase customer satisfaction and conversions.
3. Use pins
Pinning is a way to “artificially” raise a product’s ranking. Pinning allows merchants to manually “pin” certain products at the top of search results, regardless of their actual ranking in accordance with other criteria.
However, it is important to use pins sparingly and strategically. These are useful tools for promoting seasonal products, deals and clearance items. It’s important to not overuse pins, as this can negatively affect the overall search experience for customers if they consistently see the same products at the top.
4. Show personalized rankings
By using user signals to determine rankings, you can ensure (to some extent) that products don’t “stagnate” by never appearing high up in the search results. Consider utilizing past user behavior and preferences, location, and purchase history to tailor search results for each individual customer. This can increase the likelihood of conversions, as well as providing a better overall search experience for customers.
User signals include location, age, gender, past purchases and clicks, etc. This allows for a more personalized search experience, and can potentially lead to increased conversions.
5. Use A/B testing
It’s important to regularly test and analyze the effectiveness of changes made to optimize product rankings. Use A/B testing, where two versions (A and B) of a change are implemented and their results compared, to determine what works best for your store.
For example, if you want to increase click-through rates for a certain category of products, try shuffling based on click-through rates as the main criterion in version A, and customer ratings as the main criterion in version B. Compare the results – which had a higher click-through rate overall? Which led to more conversions? This helps ecommerce merchants determine what tactics work best.
6. Utilize advanced search features
Advanced search features allow customers to further narrow down their searches. This includes options such as price range filters, color or size filters, or even filtering by category or brand. This can increase the likelihood of customers finding exactly what they’re looking for, leading to higher satisfaction and conversions.
Moreover, furnishing relevant search results is instrumental in reducing the users' cognitive load. Additionally, think about the language used in the search options – use terms and phrases that customers are likely to use when searching for a product.
Boost your revenue with optimal product rankings
Thus, there are several techniques that online store owners can use to optimize their product rankings and maximize sales. With netizens becoming more and more demanding, catering to their need for relevance is of prime importance for ecommerce merchants.
For this reason, investing in a site search engine with “smart”, AI-based product ranking can be a great idea for many online store owners. Such an engine can greatly reduce the need for manual metadata creation, and can also keep improving itself through machine learning (ML). A great option for such a site search engine is Zevi, which also provides several more key features such as vernacular and mixed-language support, detailed analytics and a customizable UI. Try it for free today!