As 2014 rolled into the new year, I was developing a web site for a client in Scotland. After the initial design and layout process, we were discussing many elements of the site over Skype, when the client requested that I remove the site search function. I was left a bit puzzled.
The client’s reasoning for the request was simple: he personally doesn’t use site search. Ever. When I asked him why, he explained that he’d rather click through page after page of a web site until he finds what he’s looking for, or eventually give up and go elsewhere. The customer is always right, except when they’re wrong.
A website with site search installed helps visitors stay longer on the site, find what they were looking for, make purchases, contact you and potentially come back again. We have all been disgruntled when searching for something through organic results and arriving on a site that doesn’t answer our question. Without site search, more often than not people will leave the site and go elsewhere. Many consumers today will go straight to the site search before navigating for an answer, particularly when using a mobile device.
Site search is beneficial because it satisfies the “I want it now” problem for today’s searchers. In fact, the majority of users expect site search on today’s websites—without it, they are often rendered helpless. Today’s consumer is in a hurry, and the Internet provides them a speedy way to research and discover what they’re looking for. If you don’t offer them a site search feature, you are doing them a dis-service.
If your website does not have a site search function, check out these free options and help your site visitors discover what they’re arriving to find:
Google Site Search: https://www.google.com/work/search/products/gss.html
—Kelly “Rags” Ragland, Rags to Stitches Productions