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How to Search for Business Success

March 12, 2018 No Comments

Featured article by Calvin Paige, Independent Technology Author

Behind every good business is a good website. Failing to make your website work as well as it can, is one way to sabotage your business’s success. Google is all about user experience, and for your site to achieve a high-ranking position on the search engine results pages, you need to put your energies into making your site work just as much for the user, as it does for your bottom line.

What does your customer want?

Visitors to your website know what they want, and if they can’t see it straight away, they will more than likely use your search function to help them find it. Your website needs to provide a visually prominent search tool. If it is not immediately apparent where your search bar is, you will be missing out on taking advantage of the interest shown. Also, allow your customer to filter the search results, so that they can further refine their search. When customers use your search function, they have a stronger buying intent, and are more likely to purchase from you than if they had solely used the site’s navigation. So how can you use your search function to drive your business forward? Here are 3 ways that it can be used to:

1. Improve Your Knowledge

Search data is central to increased conversion rates, so you can understand why it is so important to pay attention to your internal search function. Think about the advantages of a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign; you are targeting customers who you know are high-converting shoppers and your site search data can help you direct them to your site. When you identify the search paths that your customers have taken on your own site, you are able to learn which keywords they used to access your products, and how the information satisfied their queries. This is marketing gold: use your data to identify the significant keywords you use within your PPC campaign and landing pages.

2. Identify Problems

You may find that visitors to your site are accessing pages via the initial site search, and yet these visitors are failing to convert to sales. You know that if they are utilizing your internal search function, they know what they want and are more likely to buy from you; however, there may be a barrier that is stopping them from doing so. You need to address any obstacles that you identify; these could be navigation issues to checkout, a lack of product information or a descriptive error, for example. Use your search results to identify errors, and act upon what you find.

3. Identify Opportunities

Your search data can be utilized to extrapolate future business opportunities. You may have products or services that you offer as a standard, but if you regularly examine your search data for the failed site searches, you will see the demand for associated products that you currently don’t provide. You will be able to increase your product portfolio to satisfy this apparent demand.

Of course, you need to have a search function that can cope with the queries that it receives and the vast amount of data that your site holds that is invisible to the consumer. By failing to understand or appreciate the complexity and scope of search issues will lead to a bad user experience and an inability to sell your products or services – it can also waste a lot of your organization’s time trying to solve the challenges that invariably occur.

What do you need?

Speed

The ultimate goal of your search function is to accept queries and return suitably ranked results. You need your search to be able to perform well. You do not want to have a search system that is slow, you need it to be quick – Google’s research has shown that their numbers of searches fall by 0.6% when a decrease of only 300ms is experienced by users: queries need to be returned under 200ms. When you consider how your search infrastructure may need to draw documents of different types from several sources, and merge them together before the list is sorted and ranked, you can see where the complexities lie.

Agility

The number of queries that are possible are huge, and you need to have the capabilities in place that can evolve with your business, and build upon user experience. Your infrastructure needs to support product and development cycles, and provide you with processes and metrics: not just a technological solution. There is no need for you to attempt to develop a system in-house, rather take advantage of existing search options common CMS’s like SiteCore, Drupal, and Adobe Experience Manager. SearchStax Solr for Sitecore and SearchStax Solr for Drupal are two good examples of ways to easily bring the power of Solr to your CMS.They are able to develop an infrastructure that will fit your business requirements, and yet still provide for further customization as your business grows.

Availability

Your internal search function and its system is essential to your business’s success. You also have the added pressure of making sure that how you manage your data currently is optimized to guarantee its success. This also means that as well as being fast and agile to the queries that it processes, it must also be available to be utilized. You will more than likely have experienced periods of downtime for your website, and had to deal with the business challenges that this presents, but the complexity of internal search data and the number of machines that can be involved in servicing the index increases the risk of something awry and the whole system being brought down. You must ensure that your Solr system is upgraded to the latest versions, and that you manage your data to ensure that it is able to cope with increases in traffic to your site, and you have the skills and expertise to patch any issues as they occur across any of the environments in your infrastructure.

The internal search data that you have is a raw product that you can harvest to help your business succeed; however, to harvest it, it is a highly complex and technological process that goes beyond the core business skills that are usually found in businesses. Yet, if you are prepared to seek advice and assistance, you will be able to harness it for your business’s success.

 

DATA and ANALYTICS , SOCIAL BUSINESS

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