Why internal search?
Is full-text searching on your own website useless, or an obligation or is it just a helping hand for your visitors? Or is it a goldmine of opportunity with grains of precious information about your visitors and even the website itself?
On each page we should provide a search box within the site. Internal search is being used by approx. 4% of visitors, on corporate and specialized sites it’s used by an average of 3-7%, news portals use within 2%*. At first glance it may seem insignificant, but when each 15th-50th visitor shows us what he wanted, we get a pretty decent representative sample. By helping so many people finding what they need, it’s certainly worth it.
Three reasons for implementing internal search:
The notorious searcher
Some visitors commonly go through websites by searching necessary words. To put it simply – they decided that studying the site map structure and how the information is laid out is just a waste of time. They immediately avoid it by directly searching for the piece of information they’re looking for. These people can get disappointed by not allowing them to search and therefore they just might leave the site straight away.
The desperate seeker
The site’s structure is usually very clear to its creator, but rarely for the visitor. Therefore, while visitors click through the page and if they don’t find what they need (in time, afterwards they lose their patience), they use the internal search. For some it may be the last desperate attempt for getting the piece of information for which they visited the site in the first place. For the owner of the website, this is still better than losing the visitor completely.
The goldmine of data
The third reason being the unique opportunity of confessing the visitors. If we observe what and where are people searching on the site, we have a perfect survey, then and there and for free, too! After all, they tell us in their own words what they want, what they can’t find and their needs and expectations as well. Thus, these golden grains you found can be exchanged by precious data, although of course you have to be willing to work further with them. If so, stay tuned - we’ll be talking about “smelting” data in our next article The internal search goldmine.
* The percentage values were obtained and averaged from a sample of larger-scale websites and portals which have a number of monthly searches over 500.