7 Best Practices for Better On-site Search Capability
Reliable on-site search functionality is critical to on-page search engine optimization (SEO). An on-site search capability can improve user experience and engagement, resulting in better SEO. To enjoy the benefits of on-site search capability, follow the same best practices that an SEO agency does.
This article will discuss the following:
- Search tool features
- Search bar prominence
- Unified index
- On-site search data
- Search result templates
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Synonyms and related terms
The topics we will cover should teach you how to deploy excellent on-site search functionality. Are you ready to improve your on-page SEO?
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1. Provide Robust Search Tool Features
Companies have two options when seeking to deploy on-site search capability. They can either develop an in-house solution or reach out to a vendor. Regardless of the path your business takes, you must ensure the solution you settle on has a robust feature set.
At minimum, every on-site search functionality should have basic features such as keyword search, phrase search, auto-suggest, and filters. However, consider the features below if you want your website to stand out.
- Ultra-fast load speeds: Search speed is arguably the most critical feature for any search tool. The faster your search tool can provide results, the better. A fraction of a second makes all the difference between converting a user or having them navigate away from your site.
- Voice-activated search: You can improve your website’s digital accessibility with voice-activated search. Primarily, this caters to the needs of people with disabilities, but it is also a serviceable feature for general users. Mobile users, in particular, prefer voice search over typing in their queries.
- Mobile-optimized search: Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing to keep up with the growing number of searches made through mobile devices. This means websites with a mobile-optimized search tool are favored in SERP rankings, giving them an edge over the competition.
- Smarter search: Features like semantic search and synonym and hypernym recognition are must-haves for smarter on-site search. They give users results beyond just what they typed, helping them find what they really want.
2. Make the Search Bar Prominent
Investing plenty of resources in deploying an on-site search tool with a robust feature set is wasted if users cannot find the search bar. If you want website visitors to appreciate your powerful search functionality, make your site easy to find. Design your web pages in a way that gives the search bar prominence.
Placement is a critical aspect of search bar prominence. The best practice is to put it in the header or sidebar, which is easily visible and accessible to users. The smart use of colors may also make the search bar stand out.
3. Create a Unified Index
Providing your website with a unified index enhances the capabilities of its on-site search. Unlike federated search, it is significantly faster and provides more relevant results. This is because a unified index provides a single point of access to all relevant information, regardless of location or format.
Using federated search has advantages, such as access to a wider range of sources. However, the speed offered by a unified index makes more sense for optimizing a website for better SERP ranking.
4. Analyze On-Site Search Data
As visitors use your on-site search functionality, you gather more valuable data about them. It is best practice to put this data to good use. Analyzing on-search data can yield information you can use to improve your on-site search tool. When analyzed, the data can help identify search patterns, popular queries, search terms that lead to zero-results pages, and more.
5. Produce Rich Search Results
Making searching quick and easy is just the first half of providing excellent on-site search capability. The second half is the presentation. To create an enriched search results template, you must make it comprehensive and user-friendly. A robust search result template should have the following:
- Relevant information
- Rich snippets
- Customization options
- Mobile-friendly design
- Clear and concise layout
Subsequently, you should avoid presenting a “no results page” as much as possible. After all, the opposite of rich is nothing. Implementing features like autocomplete and fuzzy search can help you provide users with rich results more consistently. You can also display related content for queries that do not return any results.
6. Use AI to Enhance Search Relevance
With Microsoft’s announcement of a ChatGPT-powered Bing, the demand for artificial intelligence (AI) in on-site search tools has grown. Websites with AI-powered on-site search will have a definitive advantage over their competition. The primary reason for this is the enhanced search relevance of these sites.
Through natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, AI can enhance search relevance to a degree previously deemed impossible. The former improves the analysis of user queries and the identification of language patterns. The latter allows search results to improve continuously over time.
Additionally, AI enhances other search tool features. For instance, NLP is responsible for making voice-activated searches much more reliable. AI is also the reason smart search exists. They can analyze semantics in the blink of an eye, identifying synonyms, related concepts, and other information almost instantaneously.
As AI further develops, it will play a larger role in search functionality on all platforms. AI will likely become the be-all and end-all of on-site search optimizations to increase conversions.
7. Monitor and Improve
Just like in any aspect of SEO, consistent monitoring and continuous improvement are key components of creating a better on-site search capability. Regularly testing the search function allows you to detect technical issues and resolve them promptly. It can also reveal gaps in performance, helping you craft tailored solutions and apply them to enhance the user experience.
On the surface, improving on-site search capability seems like a component of technical SEO. However, it belongs to on-page SEO because it is only concerned with the content that you post. Technical SEO and on-page SEO are fundamentally different, but they are both critical to the success of your SEO strategy.
If you need expert help with your SEO campaign, contact Digital Authority Partners.
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