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Improve Your Onsite Search CR!

Your website’s conversion rate depends on various factors. Improving this crucial metric depends on your ability to optimize the different micro-conversion metrics impacting your website. This blog post will discuss onsite search optimization, a very important topic, often neglected. I believe that you can achieve quick wins by focusing on onsite search:

  • The users using the search bar are people who tend to know what they want and who seek to quickly access the searched item. By optimizing the relevancy of the search results, you will manage to improve your onsite search conversion rate and, hence, your website conversion rate. As an indicator, onsite search conversion rate is usually higher than double your website conversion rate.

  • By analyzing the search terms, you will gain a strong understanding of what your customers are looking for. Thus, in the case of an ecommerce company, the onsite team would report this analysis to the buying team, which will then plan its budget accordingly.

How to optimize the onsite search?

As mentioned, there are various quick wins that you can achieve as soon as you start your optimization efforts. Amongst many, here are some tips:

  • Optimize the location and size of the search bar on the page:

Since the onsite search CR is much higher than the overall website CR, you need to increase the percentage of visitors using the search bar. Indeed, it should be apparent and user friendly. I recommend you to A/B test different placements and sizes of the search bar and take actions based on the test’s results. Hereafter are some examples of websites that rely heavily on improving their onsite search:

Amazon and Ebay have a very large portfolio of products; hence, it can be daunting for a user to access what he wants via the category tree. Thus, each website made the search bar well visible, giving it most of the header’s space:

 Onsite Search_16022014

Fig.1: header; clearly displaying the search bar


Fig.2: header; clearly displaying both the search bar and the search button

  • Optimize the landing page of your top searches and top search results:

Start by generating a report of your top search terms and 0 results search terms. Next to each term, add the metrics discussed in the following point. Deep dive into your top search terms and check the search results pages. Make sure that each of these pages is relevant to the search term. Track the onsite metrics of each of these pages and implement synonyms and redirects in order to improve these metrics. For example, regarding synonyms, define that terms such as “iphone” and “i-phone” should lead to the same page. Regarding redirects, you could decide to send a user, searching for “Nike”, to the Nike brand page and not the “Nike” search results page.

0 search results are hidden opportunities that each one of you should seize. For instance, these search terms will allow you to understand the products, which you do not have, your visitors are searching. The 0 search results page should not be empty, but should be an opportunity for you to suggest alternatives to the user. For instance, before getting Toms, Namshi sent all the people, searching for that term, to a page consisting of products equivalent to Toms. The image below shows how Zappos takes advantage of its 0 results page, by explaining what might have gone wrong and by offering the user alternative products based on his navigation history.


Fig. 3: 0 search results page

  • Know the onsite search metrics and KPIs:

    • Search visits: the number of visits that used the onsite search bar

    • % search visits: search visits/ total visits. Constantly try to drive this metric upwards

    • % search exits: search exits/ search visits. A high % search exits shows that your search results pages are not relevant, leading the user to exit the website from that page

    • Time after search: the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website after using the onsite search. This metric is especially relevant to content websites

    • Conversion rate: although the conversion rate is linked to a landing page, it would still be interesting for you to understand to what extent your onsite optimization is affecting that metric

The topic of onsite search optimization is a very broad and interesting one. The few points mentioned above will allow you to kick-start your strategy and, hence, increase your website’s conversion rate.

Image source:

Paul Debahy

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