Google updates its mobile Test My Site tool with more competitive analysis

Google’s site speed tool now compares your site to your competitors’ and tells you how many visitors your site is losing because of your load time.

The post Google updates its mobile Test My Site tool with more competitive analysis appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 2 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Opportunities to improve your ecommerce site search experience

Opportunities to improve your ecommerce site search experience

 

The way we use the internet, including on ecommerce stores, is changing rapidly. More and more of us are choosing to shop online using our tablets and smartphones, rather than desktop computers. This, coupled with a gradual moving away from category-based menu systems, is bringing search into the spotlight, as consumers demand a quick and easy way to find exactly what they are looking for when shopping online. This is even more applicable on mobile devices.

As a result, growing numbers of retailers are starting to realise the potential that a strong, feature-rich search solution has for their business, and are exploring ways in which their own search offering can be overhauled to provide a better customer experience. In this article, we look at some of the ways that ecommerce site search can be improved, in order to bring it up to date with the latest developments in search technology and best practice.

1.   Implement an NLP-based search tool

Natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning are taking the ecommerce world by storm, shaking up various functions of an online store, including search, product recommendations and merchandising. More advanced, enterprise-level search solutions, like Klevu, use NLP to understand more about the query, in order to match results more accurately.

In search, natural language processing is used to understand more about the query, allowing the technology to answer what are essentially more complex asks. An example of a query that NLP would help with could be “salmon coloured backpack with a front pocket” – in this instance, Klevu would extract the data and use NLP to understand the key variables in the query and match to the terms that are used in catalog.

This context-driven, meaning-based approach of NLP means that search results are finally relevant to the customer’s search phrase. Clearly, the more accurate that search results become, the more likely the customer is to find what they want and actually make a purchase. The benefits go way beyond that initial purchase though, as a happy customer quickly becomes a loyal customer, returning again and again to a site that they feel really understands them as an individual.

Promote the use of your search function

From what we’ve seen with our clients, the use of on-site search has risen in recent years (generally around 10% – 25% of all users, depending on the prominence of the search box and the nature of the store), due in part to the growth in mobile internet usage. Despite this and the reports available in web analytics platforms (which generally show an uplift in search-led user journeys), it’s surprising to see that many online retailers are not positioning their search box more prominently – especially given that many of the market-leading merchants position search as a primary navigation option (eBay, AO.com, John Lewis, Amazon).

A prominent, bold search box that is clearly defined and easy to find could make a considerable difference for many retailers, helping users to find their desired product(s) quicker. Using language that encourages users to search, such as “search by product name, code, category or type” rather than a tiny magnifying glass icon, could also make a big impact. This is important on desktop, but far more so on mobile, as finding products via categories can be laboursome and increase the time to purchase considerably.

Include content search in results

When a visitor uses the search function on an ecommerce site, they could be at any stage in their purchasing journey. Some will be ready to commit to a purchase, others will be at the start of their journey, and could be looking for information about the product or about the store they are visiting. Including content pages in site search results can improve the customer experience for these early-stage customers, by giving them the information they are asking for. A search for ‘delivery’ or ‘returns’ should show the store’s delivery and returns pages, rather than some random products that somehow happen to have a keyword match, or no results at all.

Similarly, showing size guides, detailed specifications, product reviews, blog content and even buying guides could really help convert that information-hungry potential customer. Content search is not common on ecommerce stores currently, but it’s something that is gaining traction, as search tools become richer and more customer-focussed.

Use a good auto-suggest / predictive search

When a customer searches on an ecommerce store, they are generally trying to find something quickly. By adding ‘as-you-type’ product and category suggestions into the store’s search function, you are able to speed up that search dramatically. If the search is powered by an NLP-driven solution, product and category suggestions are likely to be accurate and highly relevant and can serve results that aren’t purely based on the keywords being used.

People inevitably make typing mistakes, or are unfamiliar with the spelling of brand names or products. Auto-suggest can kick in to present likely results after just three or four characters are typed into the search box. This reduces the potential for errors and speeds up access to results, with the end result being that the customer moves closer to a successful purchase transaction.

Implement a rich search interface

Using auto-suggest is just one part of a trend towards speeding up the search experience. Introducing a richer ‘quick results’ interface for search is another way that results can be presented more efficiently and faster to the customer. These panels will typically show thumbnails of the first few results, along with a link to view all results.

However, progressive retailers are also including links to relevant categories, content links, and even faceted search options in their dropdowns. This approach in a lot of cases takes the entire search process into the drop-down panel, removing or reducing the need for the traditional search results page. Redsgear.com, an outdoor gear specialist, has a great example of a rich search dropdown that also features infinite scroll to show all results.

Merchandise your results

Assuming an NLP-driven engine has been adopted to power search results for a site, the next step is to merchandise those results, to drive the maximum volume of sales. Search merchandising is made up of a number of component parts, but the key one for the more advanced merchants is around weighting the results.

A key requirement, especially for merchants with larger product catalogs, is the ability to weight key products, attributes and categories to ensure that the best products for the user and the business are being served. An example of this could be a fashion retailer weighting their top-selling products and also boosting a ‘summer’ attribute when they’re going into the new season, meaning their summer products will be promoted for their chosen queries.
One of the key features of Klevu is its self-learning technology, which adds a layer of boosting based on how users interact with results. As an example, if lots of users are clicking through and purchasing a specific product, this will be displayed higher for the relevant queries. The key drivers for this are purchases, ‘add to carts’ and clicks, which can make a big difference to the relevance and quality of results, particularly for longer-tail queries.

Improve zero results page

For stores using traditional keyword-driven search tools, the zero results page is an all-too-familiar occurrence and, be it far less, it still exists when using the most advanced technologies. Rather than simply stating ‘No results found’ or even suggesting that the customer has somehow made a mistake, a better approach is to try to salvage something from the situation and encourage the user to continue their journey.

We generally recommend that merchants display links to the most popular results and even a product recommendations block.

Analyse search data to improve product listings

We’ve focused so far on design and functional changes that can improve the search experience for online shoppers. One other key opportunity is in the area of search reporting and analytics. By examining site search statistics on a regular basis, it should be possible to make significant, material improvements to a store’s product catalog.

Identifying repeat searches that have a low conversion rate, despite there being an obvious set of products that should be converting for those phrases, could allow retailers to address issues in the product listings for those items. Products may have weak listings that could be improved, links to size guides might be added, or the product in question may have inventory errors that need to be corrected, which are preventing customers from buying those items. Analysing the poor performers in this way should provide trading opportunities for the store, and should also improve the customer experience over the long term, as they find it easier to locate the items they are looking for.
We’ll be doing a follow-up post around understanding the value of search in the coming months.

For ecommerce stores, it can be hard to reach decisions on how and where to invest in third party systems, for maximum ROI. Looking at on-site search, however, could actually prove to be one of the most beneficial strategic decisions that a retailer could make, and could potentially generate substantial long-term improvements, by way of increased conversion rates, order values and repeat transactions, as well as optimised user journeys.

The post was written by Paul Rogers, who works for Klevu. Klevu is a leading eCommerce search solution, which offers a wide range of advanced features for mid-level and enterprise-level online retailers, including natural language processing, self-learning capabilities, advanced merchandising & boosting rules and in-depth reporting. Klevu can be used alongside any eCommerce platform and they have direct, plug-and-play solutions for Magento 1, Magento 2 and Shopify.

The post Opportunities to improve your ecommerce site search experience appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Top 10 site search best practices for the Holidays

This winter, ensure that every aspect of your business is prepared for shoppers so you can have a high impact and low-stress holiday season by following these simple site search best practices.

1. Include autocomplete
Autocomplete is a great addition to an ecommerce site as it works by completing a word in the search box while the customer types and provides intuitive, relevant, and error-tolerant search suggestions. Autocomplete can also help detect and correct spelling mistakes, as well as guide consumers to the right product regardless if a mistake was made. Retailers can also use autocomplete to promote certain products of higher margin or products they’d like to sell quickly throughout the holiday season by pushing them to the top of their autocompletion suggestion box as recommendations to shoppers.

 

 

2. Improve site search with synonyms
By properly configuring synonyms into your site search, you’ll not only be able to quickly drive revenue to your online store but you’ll also be able to ensure that your customers can always find exactly what they’re searching for regardless of what they search. Being aware of synonyms isimportant to your on-site search so that you can always provide your customers with accurate results regardless of the language customers use in their searches.

Through Nextopia’s advanced search tools, you have the ability to set up “synonym redirects” which will automatically direct a customer to products they were searching for regardless of the product name. For example, if you run a shoe store and none of your products have the keyword “sneakers” in them, you can manually set up a redirect so every search for “sneaker” goes to the results page for “running shoe”.

By configuring synonyms, you’ll can reduce how much your customers visit the dreaded “no results found page” directing your customers to the products you offer, reducing customer frustration and thereby creating an exceptional user experience.

3. Easy-to-locate search bar
The search box is an often overlooked feature of an ecommerce store, despite how powerful it is. A retailer’s site search box is the pathway to improved sales, better user experience, and most importantly, higher average order value and conversions. Ensure your search bar is easy to locate by keeping it front and center and on every page of your site.

4. Have a mobile-optimized site

 

In 2015, 36.16% of online sales were generated via mobile devices and this figure is only expected to grow over time.  Consumers are now turning to their smartphones to research deals, products and reviews, and for the sheer convenience. Make sure your product pages are optimized for smaller screens, your search box is easy to locate and use, and that site text and product images display correctly on mobile devices.

5. Use product images effectively
To further enhance the online shopping experience, it’s important to include images of your products in your search results so your site visitors can see your products without having to search through your product pages. Make sure that your product photos are clear in thumbnail form, and are flattering to your product. The chances of a customer buying increases when images are displayed along with a product description. Showing product images along with suggested search terms in your autocomplete can help further turn browsers into buyers.

6. Site navigation
Site navigation allows customers to refine their search results without having to use the search bar again. You can refine and sort your products by any attribute you’d like, such as by price, color, size, gender, brand, or any otherrefinements that best describe your product offerings. Enhancing your navigation will help bring your customers to their desired items much more efficiently, which results in higher conversions, happier customers, and more revenue.

7. Ask for customer feedback
Taking the time to ask your loyal customers for feedback will provide you with valuable insight into your website’s performance. You can get this information simply by asking “Did you find this search useful?” with a link to a survey somewhere on your results page, or by adding “How’s our navigation?” below your dynamic filters.
By listening to your customers, you’re ensuring that your site is catering to exactly the right group — the people who are actually using it.

8. Improve ‘no results found’ page
If you don’t sell an item your customer is searching for or perhaps it’s currently out of stock, rather than sending them to the ‘no results found’ page improve the experience by providing them with other calls of action. Provide them with product recommendations that they might find interesting and relevant or links back to the homepage, category pages, or the contact us page. This will help eliminate your site visitors leaving to go search on a competitor’s site.

9. Include category pages
For the holiday season, take the time to create some category pages that cater to your holiday shoppers. For example, highlight the deals and promotions on your site by creating a festive clearance page. This will drive your low-cost items to one page and help your customers access these products more efficiently.

10. Customer ratings and reviews
Seeking out online reviews and ratings has become a standard part of the buying process for consumers, which is why retailers need to include them. A positive customer review can become the powerful social proof that shoppers are looking for when making an online purchase, and considering 63% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews this needs to be a feature that’s added to all ecommerce sites.

These next few weeks are going to be crucial for retailers. Ensure your ecommerce site is ready for the influx of traffic and by following the best practices listed in this post. With only a few shopping weeks left, there’s no better time to improve your site search and in turn increase your sales and conversions this holiday season.

The post Top 10 site search best practices for the Holidays appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Google updates local reviews schema guidelines

Now only reviews “directly produced by your site” can have local reviews markup, according to Google.

The post Google updates local reviews schema guidelines appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

The Magento Xcelerate program: A positive sum game

As an open source ecommerce platform, Magento is flexible and accessible for developers to work with and as a result, an active community of developers emerged on online forums and at offline meetups all over the world. Many of these were happily plugging away independently of Magento until the split from eBay in early 2015.

Free from the reins of eBay, Magento has decisively been reaching out to, promoting and rewarding the individuals, agencies and technology providers that make up its ecosystem. Last February they announced the Magento Masters Program, empowering the top platform advocates, frequent forum contributors and the innovative solution implementers. Then at April‘s Magento Imagine conference (the largest yet) the theme emerged as ‘We are Magento”, in celebration of the community.

The new Xcelerate Technology Partner Program focuses not on individuals but on business partnerships formed with the technology companies that offer tools for Magento merchants to implement.

 Sharing ideas, opportunities and successes:

This is the Xcelerate Program tagline, which acts as a sort of mission statement to get the technology partners involved moving with regards to continuously considering Magento in their own technology roadmap and jointly communicating successes and learnings from working on implementations with merchants.

“In turn, the program offers members the tools to get moving, through events, resources and contacts. Our goal is to enable you to be an integral part of the Magento ecosystem” Jon Carmody, Head of Technology Partners

The program in practice:

The new program is accompanied by the new Marketplace from which the extensions can be purchased and downloaded. The program splits the extensions into 3 partnership levels:

Registered Partners – these are technology extensions that the new Magento Marketplace team test for code quality. Extensions must now pass this initial level to be eligible for the Marketplace. With each merchant having on average 15 extensions for their site, this is a win for merchants when it comes to extension trustworthiness.

Select Partners – extensions can enter this second tier if the technology falls into one of the strategic categories identified by Magento and if they pass an in-depth technical review. These will be marked as being ‘Select’ in the Marketplace.

Premier Partners – this level is by invitation only, chosen as providing crucial technology to Magento merchants (such as payments, marketing, tax software). The Magento team’s Extension Quality Program looks at coding structure, performance, scalability, security and compatibility but influence in the Community is also a consideration. dotmailer is proud to be the first Premier Technology Partner in the marketing space for Magento.

All in all, the latest move from Magento in illuminating its ecosystem should be positive for all; the merchants who can now choose from a vetted list of extensions and know when to expect tight integration, the technology partners building extensions now with clearer merchant needs/extension gaps in mind and guidance from Magento, and of course the solution implementers recommending the best extension for the merchant now knowing it will be maintained.

Reblogged 3 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Angie’s List is now free: What this change means for your business

Now that Angie’s List has removed their paywall, business owners may need to incorporate this site into their local SEO strategy. Columnist Brian Patterson explains why.

The post Angie’s List is now free: What this change means for your business appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com