If you’re an online store owner, you always have to have your learning cap on: the sheer number of new developments in the ecommerce space means that not knowing how to use the latest tweak, hack or plugin can have a detrimental impact on your business. However, today, we’re going to take a close look at a relatively old but under-implemented feature that you absolutely need to be aware of and probably use: the humble redirect.
As the name suggests, a redirect takes site visitors from one page to another. But there are several different kinds of redirects that are relevant to ecommerce merchants, with somewhat different rationales behind them. Let’s zoom in on them to learn why they can be so useful.
Types of redirects
Most online stores today have a search feature (known as ‘site search’) that allows visitors to quickly find whatever products or information they are looking for. As a result, site search redirects provide store owners with an efficient way to funnel visitors to helpful or relevant pages, depending on what they type into the search bar.
You can accomplish this by instructing your site search engine to redirect visitors to specific pages when they search for specific queries. There are several kinds of redirects that are relevant to online store owners. Let’s talk about a few of them.
1. Brand page redirects
Your store might have a separate page for each brand whose products you stock. If a visitor simply searches for the name of a brand, then instead of displaying search results, you might want to take the visitor to that brand’s page (where you can provide some more brand-related information and photos). This is what a brand page redirect achieves.
2. Collection / category page redirects
Like most online stores, your store probably organizes its products under various categories, such as ‘laptops’, ‘athletic wear’, ‘sofas’, etc. In addition, it might also have special collections of holiday-themed products, say.
It’s a good idea to create dedicated pages for your categories and collections. If a store visitor searches for ‘laptops’, instead of simply showing them a few laptops, you can have them redirected to a special page for all the laptops that your store stocks.
3. Trending / best-selling product redirects
It’s not uncommon for online shoppers to simply type in something like ‘trending’, ‘best selling’ or ‘top selling’ into the search bar. Since the search intent is quite obvious here, you might as well cater to it, which you can do by redirecting such queries to a special page for such products.
4. Support redirects
Store visitors don’t use the site search bar only to look for products: they might use it to look for other kinds of store-related information as well, including queries such as ‘support’, ‘refunds’, ‘shipping’, etc.
When visitors are looking for help and you’d like to give them the best support possible, you can redirect them to a page that tells them how they can get in touch with you (e.g. a phone number, email id, etc.).
5. Campaign-based redirects
Store visitors often type in queries like ‘sale’, ‘discount’, or ‘offer’. It is a good idea to redirect such queries to a special page that lists any campaigns you might currently be running, so that visitors can get an idea of all your offers in one place.
6. Order status redirects
Lastly, customers who have already placed an order on your store might want to check its status, and might simply type in ‘order status’ or something similar in the search bar. In such a situation, provided that the customer is logged in, you can redirect them to an order status page that lets them track their shipment.
The main benefits of using search redirects
Ok, so now we have a handle on what redirects are and which types of redirects may be useful, but how exactly do they benefit online store owners and visitors? Here are two key ways in which they do so:
1. Better customer journeys = more conversions
Search redirects can be used to deliver more relevant content to store visitors. In addition, they can even be used to address discrepancies between search queries and product titles and descriptions. For instance, a visitor might search for ‘pastel blue shirt’, but you might only have products with ‘light blue shirt’ in the title or description. In such a situation, you can set up a redirect from one to the other, thus preventing any inconvenience to visitors.
By improving the customer journey like this, you also increase the chances that they will make a purchase, leading to better business outcomes.
2. Improved SEO metrics
Lastly, by using search redirects to ensure that certain important pages get a lot of traffic, you can improve their behavioral factors, specifically the number of views they get. This can improve their SEO score and help them rank higher in web search engines, eventually leading to more traffic to your site.
The drawbacks of not using search redirects
1. Irrelevant search results
If a visitor searches for ‘trending’ (for instance) on your store and there is no redirection in place, then your site search engine will simply look through your product database for items that match ‘trending’. This is unlikely to return many high-quality results. Thus, not planning for such redirects will hamper your visitors’ experience.
2. Fewer products shown than are available
This can often be a problem when store visitors type in the names of typical categories. For instance, suppose a visitor searches for ‘mobile’. If you don’t have redirection in place for such a category query, then the visitor will see a fair number of mobiles, but also other products like mobile covers and mobile chargers. Thus, overall, the visitor will see fewer mobiles than if they’d been redirected to a dedicated page for mobile phones.
3. Poor filtering and sorting options
Some filters and sorting options only make sense for certain categories. Consider the situation just discussed above: if your search results are a mix of mobile phones, covers and chargers, then having a filter for camera resolution doesn’t make sense. However, the same filter would make sense on a dedicated page for mobile phones. Thus, not having such a dedicated page means that your store visitors can’t use all the filters and sorting options that they could have.
4. Poor conversion rate
This is the ultimate consequence of all the issues discussed above. If your store’s search experience is clunky, unintuitive and unhelpful, then visitors are not going to bother spending too much time on your store; they’ll simply look for what they want elsewhere. Moreover, by not putting the most relevant search results in front of your visitors as quickly and prominently as possible, you will lose out on potential sales.
Keep shopping journeys going with redirects
Redirects have been around since the early days of the Internet, but might often be ignored by online store owners who do not consider themselves to be tech-savvy. However, as you might now have realized, they can be pretty important for bigger stores, and thankfully, they are not very difficult to set up.
If you’d like your store to feature an AI-powered site search engine with powerful search redirection capabilities, consider Zevi. By using Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, Zevi can understand your visitors’ search intent and deliver highly relevant results. Try it out today!