Whether you’re designing a hotel search or store locator page, the location search conversion rate matters. That’s why you need to design, test and monitor site search pages with the end user in mind. How can you ensure your site’s search engine delivers every time? It’s time for site search optimisation. 


    Select the best site search fields

    There’s a delicate balance between providing too many or too few fields for your search. To optimise site search conversion rates, it's wise not to bombard users with all possible decisions up front, as this will cause them to exit the site. That’s why the search page is so critical. To get users to click to the next stage you’ll need a well designed first page. This requires research into which fields are essential and discovering which fields are just ‘nice to have’. There’s no easy cheat for the perfect amount of fields, so it’s all about testing.

    How to optimise:

    • Experiment by A/B testing which search fields lead to a greater search volume
    • Discover which filters drive users furthest down the funnel. Some fields may to a higher volume of conversions initially, but the drop off rate is higher further down the line. Take a look at how leaders create filters
    • Experiment with different field formats including drop downs menus, text fields and tick boxes and monitor which work best.
    • Monitor the most popular internal search keywords to make smart suggestions on the search page
    • Use autocomplete, but with a short manageable list of suggestions
    • Check out general ways to improve page conversions

    Deliver relevant results

    Delivering relevant results needs great design, UX and UI effort. Location search conversions rely upon sites being able to deliver what the user is looking for. Results pages also need to make it easy for the user to go back and change their minds after seeing results.

    How to optimise:

    • Create a search relevancy algorithm that ensures the most relevant results are shown first to the customer – see how Elastic do it here
    • Experiment with the format for listing the results – does the conversion rate increase when displaying results in a list, gallery or map format?
    • List locations by travel time rather than straight line distances to eliminate geographically irrelevant results – try it here
    • Monitor search result page bounce rates to understand how many visitors perceive the results listed to be relevant
    • Use heat mapping to monitor scroll rates and understand user behaviour on the results page
    • Use customer reviews and social proof on the results page - learn more

    Provide effective routing

    Location-based decision making is easy when users know how easily they can get there. At this stage of the user journey, visitors often use a third party routing app or site. When 3rd party routing is used, you’re missing an opportunity to guide the visitor through the decision-making process. Once they’re off your site, you can no longer provide incentives for converting. It also opens them up to offerings from competitors.How to optimise:

    • Try out using an eye-catching directions button alongside search results
    • Make routing as simple as possible by auto-filling the address of the selected result in one of the fields
    • Use a geolocation API that can autocomplete the user’s start destination
    • Use third party points of interest data (Factual or Foursquare) to suggest popular locations that the user can route to
    • Offer personalised routing by offering different routes based on transport modes or times to travel


    Learn more

    Take a look at our industry spotlights for site search:


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