Why Doesn’t Anyone Use My Search Box?

An example of a really fancy search box at
An example of a really fancy search box at

We don’t want to appear rude, but if this is a question you’ve been asking about your eCommerce site, the chances are it’s because it’s no good. Poor or inconsistent search results are a fact of life for all too many online retailers, with damaging results to conversion, sales and profitability. Here are a few of the prime offenders/key culprits that may be driving your customers away from your search box.

No results. Readers of previous EasyAsk blogs will know that we can’t emphasize enough the importance of returning results to a search query. There’s just no excuse for the “No Results” page. If your eCommerce search can understand both the intent of the search and the content of the product catalog, this problem is eliminated.

Irrelevant results. A close second in the worst search practices is the delivery of multiple pages of irrelevant results.  It’s just as frustrating to the customer as the “No Results” page and just as unproductive for the retailer.

Inconsistent results. Chances are your website search sometime delivers and sometimes falls short. But customers have the expectation that your search should work all the time, every time. And the recollection of a poor experience is likely to make more of an impression of that of a smooth transaction.

If your site search has been guilty of any of these bad behaviors, chances are you have trained your customer to ignore your search box. If the customer is determined enough, and your navigation is good enough, they may still click through multiple steps necessary to find the product they are looking for. Alternatively, they may just go to a better site.

What To Do

Natural language search software eliminates all of these missteps by letting shoppers describe what they are seeking in plain English and get back highly tuned results every time they search.  The semantic processing technology can interpret what the customer is looking for and thus always returns the most relevant results. If there is no exact match, the software intelligently returns the closest thing available. By adopting natural language search, both the customer’s experience and the bottom line are greatly improved.

Making the course correction, adopting natural language search, and delivering accurate, relevant search results will delight new and returning customers who use your search function. But if your search box function has been poor in the past, it’s important to let customers know that things have changed and that they can expect an improved experience.

There are several simple steps you can take to regain user confidence in your search box. One of the easiest is to post a banner on the site that asks the shopper to “Try our new, improved search box!” Changing the look and feel or position and size of the search box also draws attention to the fact that something has changed. Make your search box large enough and prominent enough for visitors to easily see it. The top center of the page is generally the best location for visibility and usage.

Another user-friendly approach is to put a leading phrase into the search box instead of a blank space or “enter keyword.” A phrase like “What are you looking for” encourages the shopper to not only use the box, but we specific about what they are hoping to find.

If customers aren’t using your search box, it’s time to take a hard look at the results it is delivering and make a commitment to make a change.


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