More Tips on Improving On-site Search

I’m back for another post on improving the search experience of your web visitors. Previously, I discussed the importance of adding a search box and how it influences positive results for your website.

woman using a magnifying glass

If you haven’t, you can catch up here. Once you’re ready, continue on reading part 2. Below are the additional tips designing and installing your search box:

  • The Search Box Should Aim to Improve Incorrect Keywords
    • Anticipate misspellings of words. Your search box must be adaptable to changes of the terms and possible errors in the spelling.
    • No one is perfect. Sooner or later, someone make a mistake. So, to anticipate future mistakes, the search functionality should be:
      • Flexible: should not be case sensitive
        • Whether one types in in lowercase or uppercase, the results should not differ.
      • Knowledgeable: should consider singular or plural words
        • Whether the words used are wither singular or plural, there should be similar results.
      • Able to distinguish American and British English
        • If one types in British, there should be suggestions using the American spelling, and vice versa.
        • For example, when one types “colour”, there should be a prompt saying: do you mean “color”?
      • Able to ignore STOP WORDS
        • Words such as “a”, “on”, “of”, “the”, “and”, “in” are considered stop words.
        • The search box should ignore these terms. Because if it is included, then, all of your content will show up on the results page.
        • These words are unavoidable so most blog posts, if not all, will contain these stop words. So, the search functionality should be able to detect them to provide better results.
      • Able to detect special characters
        • If any of your content contains characters such as “ñ”, “é”, “ü” and etc, your search box should be accommodating of the common spellings.
        • For example, when one searches for Beyonce instead of Beyoncé, the results should be the same.
        • Words with special characters are common among words of German, Spanish, or French origins.
  • The Search Box Should Support Predictive Search
    • Predictive search shows suggestions basing on what the user typed on the search box. When this is supported, it helps to…
      • Accelerate the search procedure.
      • Enhance the search quality because it avoids the common misspellings and typos
      • Provide any related content to the keyword.
    • When there are keyword suggestions, it will give the user similar pages related to their search.
    • For example, I will type “dress” and then, the predictive search would suggest things like such as “casual dress”, “cocktail dress”, “maxi dress”, “formal dress”, “summer dress”, and so on.
    • It’s very convenient especially if you are shopping and you have no idea what dress to pick.
    • Some websites add a category option beside the search box. Take Amazon for example, and look at the drop-down next to the search box. You can choose a category on where to find “dress”.
    • Perhaps, you are look for a book on the Kindle Store with the word “dress” on the title. You could also be searching for a “dress” movie on the Amazon Prime section.
    • Lastly, users should also have the option to close the predictive search option. By pressing the ESC key, they should be able to close the suggestion list and type for their desired keywords instead.