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Using Search to win customers

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Author: Adriana Iordan -

Site search - a powerful sales tool

When users search for a product or other item on your website, they want quick and relevant results and need instant gratification in order to return. So try to improve your search usability feature by using a consumer-oriented strategy.

Improve the quality of your website.

Find out as much as possible about your targeted clients and learn to recognize their needs and simplify the way in which they can achieve their goals.

Keep in mind that simple is better.

The best position to place the search box is on the top right of the page. Avoid inserting other text input boxes for other functions in nearby areas. On home pages, search should be a type-in field and not a link, and should be wide enough to contain the typical inquiry.

Label the button "Search".

Label the button "Search" since users are accustomed to this term, and usually won't spend time in reading other instructions or awkward labels. Make sure the "Enter" key is working as well. For complex websites you could also place a text link for advanced search, but preferably not from the home page.

Place the search button on the first page.

It is mandatory to place the search button on the first page, but keep in mind that customers might wander a little on your site and might need that option later. So keep your search button available on every single page. It is better to search the whole site by default. Make the search forms and results pages fit into the overall design of the web site: they should use the same colors, fonts, etc.

Site search usability

To improve the search usability on your website, pay attention to the following attributes:

Accuracy and relevance.

Always show the most relevant results at the top of the search list. Place results that match all keywords before results that match single keywords. If results are from different categories found on your website, offer product links and product images. Provide a sufficiently descriptive title. The customer needs appropriate written and visual information to decide if he wants to buy a product.

Synonyms and related terms.

If no matches were found for the original query, show results for identical or related terms, whenever possible. Most users aren't willing or able to refine their query.

Misspelled search items.

This is one of the main reasons why the search feature returns no results. Provide useful matches and show the misspelled search term alongside the correct spelling. Allow plurals, common abbreviations and hyphenations.

Sort and filter results based on mixed specifications.

Clients want to find specific products on your website. They are interested in price, brand, color, size, etc. Offer them the possibility to sort the list based on one or more attributes.

About the author: Adriana Iordan is a Web Marketing Specialist at Avangate B.V. She has in depth knowledge of internet marketing services and website analysis applied to the software industry and e-commerce development.

Copyright © 2006, all rights reserved. Read more software marketing articles and learn how to sell more software online.

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