Tim and Shaun discuss various ways to improve your site conversion rates.
Tim and Shaun discuss various ways to improve your site conversion rates.
At SLI we help visitors to an ecommerce site find the products they want, but how can you, as an ecommerce manager, find the best solutions for your eCommerce business? What strategies work in your vertical? What new features are going to add to your bottom line vs. just adding to your expenses? Who has the solutions that are the right fit for your business? Traditionally you had to do your own research into the solutions available that fit your needs, but now there is a new way – FitBase from FitForCommerce.
Our friends at FitForCommerce, the eCommerce consultancy, saw a need in the industry for a comprehensive, well-organized, knowledge base. A place where you could find 1000s of features, best practices, pitfalls, expert opinions, whitepapers – in short, everything you need to educate yourself, find the right resources, make the best-fit decisions.They put together a team of experts, did a tremendous amount of research and launched FitBase.
For the second year FitForCommerce have been asked by Internet Retailer to run the Navigation Desk at the Internet Retailer Conference. Seek them out and they will help you find what you’re looking for.
ABCNews recently announced they had improved their design, navigation and search. I took a look at it and had a few comments.
It’s nice to see images in the search results – although I think they could be a little larger. It’s also good to have refinements and sort options.
I noticed that they seem to do an OR search by default. That is they show you results that contain any of the terms in your search query. For example when I clicked on one of their Hot Topics shown above the search box – Susan Boyle. I was surprised to see that there were recipe results for the amateur Scottish signing sensation. On closer inspection they appeared to be showing because there are recipe results that contain the word “Susan”. Doing an OR search like this does mean there will be more results – so you are less likely to show no results. But it also means there can be a lot of irrelevant results. I recommend showing AND results by default – that is results that contain all the words in the query. If there are no results you can fail over to show results that contain some of the words. (A previous blog post discusses more strategies for the no results page)
Showing facets with no results
I also noticed that they show facets even when there are no results. For example a search for proposition 8 tells you that there are 0 recipes for that term. This is not that useful and they would be better off not showing that refinement option – this is standard practice for faceted search.
Not indexing all content
I tried searching for advertising or contact information (they have links for these in the footer of their pages) – but nothing relevant was returned. I suspect their site search isn’t indexing that content. I think it’s a good idea to index all the content on your site.
It’s nice to see ABC improving their site search for their news site and their stated commitment to improve it further. In my experience there is always room for improvement and because so many people elect to use the search – even small improvements in usability can have a significant impact.
Last week it was announced that Google’s search suggestion feature is being updated. The major changes are:
I haven’t seen the new features live yet – but I wonder what impact this will have on the referrals you see in your web logs. If someone searches from Google’s homepage – and clicks on a result from the Google suggest list – then the referrer will presumably be google.com. This will mean that the referral URL won’t contain the search term. I recently saw google.com in our own web logs but didn’t think anything of it at the time. I wonder if was a referral from Google Suggest?
If someone searches from an existing search page then the referrer will be that page and won’t contain search term they were actually using. That means the referral URL will contain a different keyword – possibly completely irrelevant. For example if I search for Microsoft then type in Apple and choose the Apple.com homepage from Google Suggest then the referral URL in Apple’s web logs would be something like: http://www.google.com/search?q=microsoft and analytics software may mistakenly assume that they were ranking for the term microsoft.
There may be similar problems with the reporting for paid search. Presumably the folks at Google have thought of this and have some sort of solution.
Has anyone seen evidence of this happening? Is there anything Google could do to help us accurately see the search term that was actually used (for example sending people through a redirect that contained the keyword in the URL)?
This week we posted an interview with Tammie McKenzie from Cruiser Customizing. This was a very interesting interview. Cruiser Customizing started as community for for those who are passionate about cruiser riders. The members of the community were able to review and discuss the various accessories that are available. The ecommerce part of the business was added at a later stage – after the community was formed.
This is a contrast to a lot of ecommerce businesses that are primarily retailers who then try to create a community around their store – they add reviews, forums, blogs etc but they do all of that after they’ve created the store. At Cruiser Customizing they did it the other way round and it means they have a genuine, engaged community.
Cruiser Customizer operates a number of different sites to cater for different types of bikers who would normally not want to be associated with each other. There’s Realhog for the Harley Davidson parts and accessories, Goldwing Country for Honda Goldwing accessories, RideGear for Sport-bike accessories and Dollar Rider for discount accessories.
SLI has done quite a bit of customizing of our services for the Cruiser Customizing sites. While we run their site search like we do for most customers, for logged in users we preselect their make and model so someone who owns a Honda won’t see Harley specific products but we’ll still show products that are not make and model specific like clothing. We also have built a tire finder and a gift finder and are continuing to work on a number of other initiatives.
This year we’ve been exhibiting at some excellent conferences around the world. At many conferences we have telescope drawings to win a Stanley London 30-inch brass telescope. We’d like to take a moment to recognize a couple of our winners this year. From the Internet Retailer Web Design conference in January our winner was Carl Winter, and from the Shop.org Strategy and Innovation conference in February our winner was Andy Carpenter from Vera Bradley. On behalf of the SLI team, we congratulate you and hope you are enjoying the telescopes! Keep an eye on our events page to see where we will be exhibiting next and make sure you stop by our booth and have a chat with our team.
I was on the Marketing Sherpa site today, reviewing the article that published last week about our customer Jelly Belly and I noticed that their site search could do with some improvement. The search is powered by our competitor Omniture/Atomz – hopefully this will help them do a better job :-).
First the index is out of date. A search for Jelly Belly returned no results – even though the article is linked to from their homepage and was published a week ago.
The no results page could be a lot better. They could show some popular searches. At the very least they should tell you that there were no results. The links at the top didn’t do anything. And it seems strange to have the option to sort a list of 0 results by relevance or by date.
I tried searching from the SherpaStore and got a 409 page. The Login link takes you to an Atomz page. I suspect Marketing Sherpa need to change the form code on the SherpaStore page – to point to their regular search.
When you do manage to get search results they are categorized. There may be some situations where this makes sense but I think they are few and far between and I don’t think this is one of them. Categorizing the search results can push the most relevant results way down. For example if you search for summit you have to go through case studies, research, how to, interviews and articles before you get to the events (where I think you would find the most relevant results). They do have a sort option that promises to bring the most relevant results to the top. They also have a sort by date option – but I think it would be good if the dates were shown with the results when this option was selected.
Some other nice to have features that are missing include facets, related searches and auto complete.