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Put Your Site Search to Work, Part 2: Add Rich Content to the Search Experience

by Shaun Ryan  |  
July 21, 2009

In Part 1, we discussed leveraging site-search data about the terms your customers use on your site and the items they click on most in your search engine optimization (SEO) and paid-search efforts, email marketing, and other promotional campaigns.

In Part 2, we'll talk about how to put your site search to work in even more ways to improve the return on your site-search investment and create a richer search experience for your customers. Thanks to Web 2.0 technologies and social media, it's easy to add content that showcases your products and helps build your brand.

Something as simple as adding color refinements to your search results can help you to better market your products. We all know that product images in search help site visitors find what they need. Likewise, showing a palette of the available colors for those products—and allowing shoppers to filter by those colors—can be another way to encourage people to buy, particularly for shoppers who think visually.

Most shoppers like to see the various colors available, if that's relevant to the products they are searching for. When you highlight the various colors within the site search, shoppers have even more options to choose from.

Candy retailer Jelly Belly ( uses that feature. When online shoppers search for a specific jellybean flavor, they can elect to filter results by color. That option is helpful for people who may be looking for a certain color to match a theme for a wedding or baby shower, for example.

Naturally, search results with color options can get cluttered if your products offer many color choices. You often don't need to have separate photos of a product in each color. It's easier, and just as useful, if you include one image of the product, along with swatches of all the color choices.

Dover Saddlery (, an online retailer of equestrian-supplies, takes that approach, displaying available colors for each item below each site-search result.

Another type of engaging content to add to your search results is your blog. If you're taking the time to blog about your company and its products and services, you'll get more mileage out of your hard work if you make that content available in your site search.

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Shaun Ryan is CEO of SLI Systems, a provider of hosted search solutions. He can be reached via

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  • by you could, but you can't... Tue Jul 21, 2009 via web

    You wrote:
    "Moreover, you can make it easier for shoppers to generate relevant search results by letting them search by "social tags." For instance, you can allow shoppers to tag your products based on categories such as suitability for different age groups or appropriateness for various events, like weddings."

    The problem is, I only know of one shopping cart that has this feature available..."tagging" is ultimately a BLOG tool, it hasn't quite reached the eCommerce market yet (except for high-end custom team-built websites like

    While you're idea is great, it's practically unreachable for 99% of your readership.

    Or maybe I'm YOU know where to find a "product tagging" plugin/widget that can be used on a regular website? (ie. NOT a particular blog/cms)

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