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How to Measure eCommerce Site Search Effectiveness

eCommerce Best Practices
UX and Digital Marketing
Sarah HillelSarah Hillel | August 17, 2020

One of the most well-known sayings in the business world is “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” It may feel like a worn cliché, but there will always be some truth to it. And in retail, it applies to everything from the effectiveness of your eCommerce site search solution to your overall customer experience.

Delivering exceptional shopping experiences online relies on understanding and providing what your customers are looking for. How do you do that? By analyzing your site search engine performance and knowing how your shoppers interact with the results. Are they finding what they’re searching for—and buying it? Or, are they completely abandoning your website the moment they see the search results?

woman shopping online, holding credit card, eCommerce Site Search Effectiveness

Measuring the performance of your eCommerce site search enables you to improve it. Once you made changes that optimize on-site search, you’ll be a step closer to creating seamless customer experiences that generate sales and loyalty.

There are many eCommerce site search solutions on the market, each with its own set of reporting and analytics capabilities. But to know how to measure the effectiveness of the search feature of an eCommerce website, there are three key steps to consider.

1. Identify the Relevant Metrics

Many factors affect eCommerce site search effectiveness. As your customers look for products on your website, analytics can help uncover and understand what’s working and what’s not. Here are some metrics to check.  

  • Percentage of site visitors using search: When shoppers arrive on your website, do they automatically use the search bar? Or, do they browse first, then only use site search when they can’t find what they’re looking for?
  • Percentage of transactions/revenue coming from those site visitors: Find out if your eCommerce site search works by looking at the sales it generates. Most search users have high purchase intent because they already know what products they want to buy. Effective eCommerce site search solutions should seamlessly connect shoppers to items that they have in mind.
  • Searches per search visit: How many searches do your customers have to make before they complete an order? The ideal is one. Meaning, on the first try, your on-site search identifies the intent, translates it, and surfaces the most relevant products. The more searches your shoppers have to perform using similar but different keywords, the more friction they encounter, the more you need to rething your eCommerce site search solution.
  • Average conversion rate of the site versus those that use site search: Do more customers end up buying when they use search? Looking into conversion rates not only uncovers the effectiveness of the site search feature, but also reveals the shopping habits of your site visitors.
  • Average order value of visitors using search versus those who don’t: Are customers buying more when they use site search than those who prefer to browse categories? The best shopping journeys are frictionless. When customers instantly find what they’re looking for, that activates a positive experience that can encourage spontaneous purchases with the right eCommerce site search solutions.
  • Search exit rate: The moment shoppers hit enter and see the results, do they continue exploring or leave? High search exit rates are symptoms of poor relevance and accuracy. It means your customers are not getting the results they expect from the input they used to make a search.
  • Percentage of searches with “next page” clicks: Some shoppers are patient and keen to find what they’re looking for on your site. So, what they do is check the next page of search results and do a little more digging—and probably see the products they want to buy. But not all customers are like this. Most are going to bounce on the first page of results.
  • Percentage of searches with zero results: The worst of the bunch is presenting your customers with a blank product results page. This not only means that the eCommerce site search effectiveness is nonexistent but also not robust enough to reverse the dead-end shopping experience. Determine what your customers are looking for, as well as their next steps when they don’t get the results they expect.
  • Top 10 searches: What exactly are your shoppers searching for? Transforming your eCommerce site search into a revenue-generating channel needs a deeper understanding of your customers. Besides knowing why your shoppers go to your site, looking at their search queries can help you find out the language they use, their preferences, common spelling mistakes or slang, the demand for certain products, and more.
eCommerce Site Search Effectiveness

2. Define and Set Up On-Site Search Goals

Tweaking your eCommerce site search results to detect and match the behavior and context your customers are coming from can increase the chances of conversion. Once you have the metrics, the next step to knowing how to measure the effectiveness of the search feature of an eCommerce website is setting goals.

It starts with addressing strategic issues to establish a clear understanding of what sort of results are needed. Simpy improving the performance of site search is too broad. Here are examples of more specific search experience goals to explore.

  • Decreasing (or completely eliminating) no results pages.
  • Improving the quality of search results to lessen search exit rates.
  • Boosting revenue from search visits.

3. Monitor, Evaluate, and Improve Performance & eCommerce Site Search Effectiveness

After setting your goals, it’s time to choose only the essential metrics, so you can focus and create a roadmap for gathering, processing, and leveraging search data and analytics. Having an end-to-end plan enables you to not only measure eCommerce site search effectiveness but also discover areas for improvement.

It’s also crucial to involve stakeholders within the organization playing key roles in enhancing the overall search experience.

Measuring the effectiveness of the search feature of an eCommerce website can uncover a deeper understanding of shoppers’ intent and expectations. It also empowers you to decide if it’s time to upgrade or replace your site search solution.

In any case, with a more customer-centric approach to gauging and boosting the success of eCommerce site search, not only are you able to increase conversion and loyalty, but also, and more importantly, provide shopping experiences that are worth coming back for.


Sarah Hillel

Sarah Hillel

Sarah is the Global Events and Marketing Manager at Syte. From conception to evaluation, Sarah is passionate about delivering impactful events that enhance the organization's image and brand to client experience.

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