Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Vital Importance of eCommerce Site Search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the cute, sexy sibling that gets all the attention. But when it comes right down to it, the success of your eCommerce Website is more likely to be determined by Site Search within the Website than it is by optimizing search engine results.

As the FifthGear blog reminds us, "Successful ecommerce websites offer real-time product updates, advanced search options, and detailed product reviews. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your product selection might be or how flashy your eStore is: if your customer cannot find what they want, or if it takes too much time and effort to find it, s/he simply looks somewhere else" (emphasis added).

There are dozens of specialized site search tools, including SLI Systems and the related SiteChampion, Endeca, SearchSpring, Adobe Search&Promote (formerly from Omniture), BayNote, PicoSearch, Nextopia, Fusionbot, jrank, CyberSiteSearch, atomz, and many many more. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses. The big challenge with Site Search (or any search) is that prospects or customers don't always (or usually) search for things in the way someone would who is intimately familiar with your product line. So not only do you have to accommodate mistyping and misspelling (or is it mis-spelling...and what do you do with mis-sepllling?), but you also have to take into account brand names vs. generic terms, model numbers (which can be different on identical products), and brief vs. full product names ("joy stick" vs."push-button joy stick"). And what about "gearbox" vs. "gear box"? A tool like FindWatt can help set up product information and categories that are search-friendly. Their services include things like:
  • de-abbreviation
  • de-concatenation
  • Basic Faceting
  • Advanced Faceting
  • Standardization
  • Normalization
  • Inference
...and several other items, all par for the course in this painstaking, detail-oriented, but quite creative discipline (and it IS a discipline; not for the faint-of-heart!).

For more information on each application, see my guest blog at Fifthgear.

 Click HERE for a related post on Vivisimo's Velocity Information Optimization platform.

See also Web Admin's Guide to Site Search Tools and Search Tools for Web Sites and Intranets.

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