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Is Bad Search Hurting Your Business?

Our experts can help you find the answers

When we talk to customers, a recurring complaint is that 'search stinks'.   And we can empathize.

How many times have you tried to purchase items from your favorite store or publisher, but can’t find it because it doesn’t show up in the search results? Why does a search, for an item that you know is stocked, not return any results?  It’s only after typing several variations, for example, “monitor” instead of “display” and …. voila! Now you have this huge list of results and they don't make very much sense.  Hopefully you have the right ‘facets’ to filter or drill down by color, size, reviews, and eventually find what you want.  But sometimes, these tools don’t work right either... very frustrating!

Why does search stink?

We find that there are a wide variety of content, retrieval, relevance and user experience problems, and our processes can improve all of these. Sometimes the underlying back end search engine might need refinement – but often it is disconnect between the vocabulary of the content creator and the customer.

This is precisely the situation that a leading consumer electronics manufacturer faced. They knew that their search experience left much to be desired but were unsure how to diagnose and fix the problem. They implemented a leading e-commerce search platform for their online store – integrated it with their custom production system – but there was no clear methodology for analyzing and improving the search results.  That’s because understanding how search works requires more than an understanding of the technology.  It also requires an understanding of user intent.

To address the problem, the company engaged one of our leading search analysts, Avi Rappoport. She methodically analyzed the most frequent search results and was able to suggest improvements very quickly. According to Avi, “We had some immediate wins by adding synonyms, re-directing out-of-scope queries, and improving the auto-suggest menu.”  

We are seeing more online retailers and publishers ask for help to improve the user experience or monetize their site by optimizing search. Given the demand, we are introducing a new service – Search Quality Analysis

What exactly is Search Quality Analysis?

  • Work with the existing search team members to learn what the current system can and can't do
  • Synthesizing that data and search logs to identify problems
  • Identifying specific goals to measure success, including recall, precision, and user interface improvements

Compared to other e-commerce functions, search usually gets passed over as one of those things you’ll improve “soon.” It’s not a high priority until your customers start complaining, or just leave the site. So if you think bad search is hurting your company’s bottom line, maybe Search Quality Analysis is just what you need.