Let's be honest, people aren't in awe of the web anymore. When most people visit your site, they are there for a purpose or to complete a task. And either you are with ‘em or against ‘em.

Are you going to help them find what they are looking for quickly and easily, or not? Most marketers and content managers don't know if their web site search is frustrating their users or helping them find what they are seeking.

No one comes to your site just to test the search. Someone using your search function is looking to do something, or get information that they think exists on your site, but they cannot intuitively find in your navigation. According to a Jupiter Research Report:

  • 33% of customers look first to site search instead of navigation, and
  • 50% will turn to site search if the navigation and qualification schemes do not help them find what they are looking for.

Bottom line: Having a site search that works well is important in helping up to 50% of your users complete their online task(s).

Below, there are 3 steps that will help you:

  1. Retrieve the keywords users enter on your site
  2. Determine your current site search effectiveness
  3. Fix your site search if the results that come up aren't what you expected

Step 1: Identify Users' Search Terms

What keywords are users typing in on your site to complete their task?

It is quite insightful to see what your web site users are searching for on your site. While you may assume certain areas of your site are "no-brainers" and easily located, many of your web site visitors may not share in your sentiment.

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Wil Reynolds is the founder and head marketing strategist of SEER Interactive (www.thinkseer.com), a search optimization and Web marketing firm located in Philadelphia.