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Understanding & Optimizing Onsite Search

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March 27, 2018 at the Triangle Marketing Club in Raleigh, I did a presentation to marketing professionals on how to understand the importance, behavior, measurement & application of onsite search data to improve their marketing.

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Understanding & Optimizing Onsite Search

  1. 1. OPTIMIZE YOUR ONSITE SEARCH Help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN JP Sherman Search & Findability Manager at Red Hat Follow me: @jpsherman
  2. 2. EXISTENTIALIST CONSIDERATIONS Who am I? Why am I here? HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN I first got involved in search technology in 1997 for US Army Special Operations PSYOP (Airborne) I studied Biology & Anthropology with a focus in behavioral science. I’ve worked for large agencies & small agencies I’ve worked as an in-house SEO I helped build a startup that was a search engine for video games Now, I run search & findability for Red Hat
  3. 3. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Search is a Journey that Starts Internally When Successful, It Ends With the Searcher Having More Than They Started With
  4. 4. BUT FIRST, A SHOW OF HANDS How many people regularly use search data to make decisions? SEO/ PPC Onsite Search
  5. 5. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN 1: http://bit.ly/1swVhSM Why is Onsite Search So Important? Users who use your site-search are: Already engaged Think you have something they want Demonstrated a basic level of trust Actively Looking Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  6. 6. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN 1: http://bit.ly/1swVhSM Why is Onsite Search So Important? Users who find what they’re looking for: Are more likely to return Are more likely to add to cart Are more likely to consume your content Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  7. 7. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN 1: http://bit.ly/1swVhSM Why is Onsite Search So Important? Users who DON’T find what they’re looking for: Know Google is one click away Remember the “miss” more than the “hit” Less likely to browse your site Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  8. 8. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN 1: http://bit.ly/1swVhSM Statistics on Internal Search Across the industry, 30 % of visitors use internal search ¹ For information & knowledge based sites, that percent can be significantly higher.
  9. 9. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Customers who make an internal search are 5x to 6x more likely to convert When compared to customers who make no search. Statistics on Internal Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  10. 10. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Statistics on Internal Search Only 15% of Companies Have Dedicated Resources to Improve Internal Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  11. 11. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Search Behavior is the Foundation
  12. 12. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Search Behavior Is Always On Active Search Passive Search
  13. 13. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior Search Initiates with Desire Which Expresses Itself as a Query This Creates an Expectation of Value Value is Measured Against Internal Criteria for Acceptance
  14. 14. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior People simultaneously process acceptance and rejection criteria. For every single result on the SERP
  15. 15. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior Each Result is Measured Against These Search Criteria
  16. 16. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior The Searcher Accepts or Rejects Results Based on Internal Criteria, Influenced by Results of that Search
  17. 17. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN KEY TAKEAWAY Improving Internal Search Starts With Creating an Immediate Perception of Value of Your Content Through Titles, Metadata & Microdata Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  18. 18. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Measurement Leads to Understanding Understanding Leads to Control Control Leads to Improvement - H. James Harrington (paraphrased)
  19. 19. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Search behavior serves as context for search as measurable actions
  20. 20. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Measuring Search Behavior Falls Under 3 Categories Query Acceptance Rejection
  21. 21. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior Acceptance Identify the Conditions that Trigger Acceptance
  22. 22. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior Rejection Identify the Conditions that Result in a Failure State.
  23. 23. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Understanding Search Behavior Termination The Searcher Accepts or Rejects the Results. This Behavior is Based on the Internal Criteria, Influenced by the Results of that Search
  24. 24. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Intuition is a fine starting point…. until you get data
  25. 25. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior The measurements are simple to understand, but it’s the nuance that tells the story ● Data is the cast of characters in the story ● What these characters (data) do IS the story.
  26. 26. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Questions to Avoid Data Overload Let’s Start Where We Always Start Keywords But don’t think of them as just words - they’re vehicles through which intent is expressed Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug
  27. 27. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Questions to Avoid Data Overload Which keywords and content drive the most engagement? Priorities: Define engagement to support key objectives
  28. 28. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior What are your top converting keywords and content? Priorities: Use this set as your control group for experimentation
  29. 29. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Fun Things to do with Onsite Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug For users who have made a conversion where onsite search was a part of the pathway… Follow up with them with an email about related items. (maybe add a discount code?)
  30. 30. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Keywords High Freq/ Low Intent Low Freq/ High Intent Long Tail Unicorns Popular but vague keywords Rare but specific keywords Specific terms > 3 or 4 words Queries that happen once in a given time- frame
  31. 31. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Keywords High Frequency/ Low Intent Low Frequency/ High Intent Long Tail Unicorns Clicks Conversions No Clicks Position CTR Conversion Rate Consumption Rate Keyword Types Metrics Calculated Metrics Negative CTR
  32. 32. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Keywords High Freq/ Low Intent Example Queries: ● Bikes ● Software ● Smart phones ● College ● Finland ● Books ● Laptops ● Elections This is the top of the funnel search behavior. User Intent Isn’t Specific ● Information ● Ideas ● Knowledge ● Type Selection ● Familiarity ● Definitions ● Topic Review
  33. 33. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Keywords Low Freq/ High Intent Example Queries: ● Download latest iTunes ● Stream The Clash ● Pictures of cats in baskets ● Vietnamese food near me ● Spicy vegan taco recipes ● Supernatural monsters that drink human blood ● Latin name for ring-tailed lemur ● What does coulrophobia mean? There is no ambiguity in the searchers’ intent. User Intent Is Specific ● Take an action ● View specific thing ● Learn specific thing ● List based content ● Answers to a specific question
  34. 34. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Keywords Unicorns Unicorns are keywords that appear once in a given time- frame. ● On average, 50% to 60% of queries are unicorns ● Unicorn queries are useful to gain quick wins. For queries that make sense, the identification of a unicorn can lead to content that will immediately fulfill that search. ● One caveat, unicorn terms can frequently be typos, nonsense words or long copied/ pasted text
  35. 35. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Metrics CTR CTR in on-site search measures clicks from SERP ● CTR’s are a great way to measure the overall success of your on-site search ● Sometimes, you might see a CTR on a keyword greater than 100% ● This means that the user has opened up links in new tabs.
  36. 36. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Fun Things to do with Onsite Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug For users who have made an onsite search… Cookie them as a distinct re-marketing campaign
  37. 37. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN WHAT’S A GOOD CTR FOR ONSITE SEARCH? Users have very high expectations… (thanks Google) CTR < 85% CTR > 85%
  38. 38. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Behavior Metrics Conversion Rate Consumption Ratevs Conversions A quantifiable action taken. Conversions can be purchases, sign- ups, downloads or something else. Always binary. Consumptions A qualitative measurement of content. It’s is a spectrum that measures how much of the content has been consumed.
  39. 39. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN When Measured, Search Failure is Awesome
  40. 40. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Measuring Search Failure There are 9 Other Results There are 9 Other Results Other than the One Clicked
  41. 41. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN WHEN SERPS FAIL Searches will fail, your customers will look for strange things - help them out a bit. Users will experience a search failure. Giving users a way to refine, tips to search again, a place for feedback will improve the search experience. Users w/out assistance re-searched 33% Users w/ assistance re-searched 59%
  42. 42. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN WHEN SERPS FAIL Searches will fail, your customers will look for strange things - help them out a bit. Metrics No Clicks Failure means you can ask for more information !
  43. 43. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN AUTOSUGGEST CAN HELP FILTER INTENT The SERP & the Snippet Can be Magnetic to Clicks When Showing Value Starting with the Search Experience
  44. 44. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN EVEN WHEN THE USER DOESN’T KNOW “CORRECT” PHRASE The SERP & the Snippet Can be Magnetic to Clicks When Showing Value Auto-Suggest Customer Focused Immediately gives the user options helping fix any “wonky” searches Business Focused You can add keymatches or suggestions based off of the query entered
  45. 45. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN AUTOSUGGEST CAN HELP FILTER INTENT The SERP & the Snippet Can be Magnetic to Clicks When Showing Value Searches w/out autosuggest Having autosuggest can increase CTR & Conversion CTR: 42% CR: 3.9%
  46. 46. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN AUTOSUGGEST CAN HELP FILTER INTENT The SERP & the Snippet Can be Magnetic to Clicks When Showing Value Searches w/ autosuggest Having autosuggest can increase CTR & Conversion CTR: 57% CR: 5.1%
  47. 47. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Fun Things to do with Onsite Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug For queries that have either zero or anemic results... Send that information to your content team to develop new content ideas.
  48. 48. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN CONTEXTUALIZE INFORMATION IN THE UI If the search results aren’t perfect, adding contextual information in the UI can help the user
  49. 49. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN KNOWLEDGE GRAPHS CAN CONTEXTUALIZE The SERP & the Snippet Can be Magnetic to Clicks When Showing Value Knowledge Graphs High Volume/ Low Intent Allows the user to immediately focus on what their intent is when it’s not clear in the query.
  50. 50. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN TEN BLUE LINKS MAY NOT EVEN WORK Some products lend themselves to be more visual, or more comparative.
  51. 51. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN BLENDED SEARCH RESULTS Just display all the things
  52. 52. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN OF COURSE, I’M GOING TO TELL YOU TO TEST IT Naturally… but what do I look at to see if it’s a good test? CTR Conversion Rate Accessed Content Watch These Metrics Refinements Does the experimental group have a higher CTR? Implying Value Are there more purchases or other conversion events? Does more content get viewed after a search is performed? Do people perform less searches after an initial search? Mobile Is there a significant difference in these metrics from mobile devices?
  53. 53. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN KEY TAKEAWAYS TO IMPROVE ONSITE SEARCH Make a plan, make a change every month, measure it & repeat. It’s not that hard Change the Snippet Change the SERP design Add Contextual Information Measure, Measure, Measure Don’t forget, mobile is unique
  54. 54. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Fun Things to do with Onsite Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug For queries that consistently get no clicks... Send that information to your SEO team to make sure they find you when they ditch you & go to Google.
  55. 55. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Improving Search Improving Resolution & Detail
  56. 56. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Making Search Better Master the Basics of Measuring Search 1. Practical Exercises ○ Use Popular Search Terms for Featuring ○ Hyper Localize Your Internal Search ○ Discover Content Gaps from Failed Search Improving Resolution: 8 Bit
  57. 57. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Making Search Better Intermediate Mastery - Measure the Time from Query to Conversion - Create Conversion Events for Content - Test UI Changes in SERP (pictures, schema, fonts, colors) Improving Resolution: 32 Bit
  58. 58. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Making Search Better Mastery as Integration - Create Search-Oriented Microdata into Content - Use Personalization and Other Data to Bias Results - Integrate Search Data in CMS Improving Resolution: 128 Bit
  59. 59. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Fun Things to do with Onsite Search Shameless “Twitter Moment” Plug Are there geographical patterns to your customers’ behavior? Boost relevant content via IP location
  60. 60. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN The Barriers to Entry Are Minimal Using Data to Improve Internal Search Starts With Data You’re Most Likely Collecting. Visualizing Iterations as Resolution Helps - Start With the Data You Already Collect - Refine That Data With Greater Accuracy - Turn Data Into Intelligence That Can Be Connected, Integrated & Shared
  61. 61. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SEARCH DEV TEAM? Onsite Search is proving its value over & over - there are options
  62. 62. HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM INTERNAL SEARCH FOLLOW ME @JPSHERMAN Thank You Questions? Comments? Reach out to me on Twitter, I’d be thrilled to chat more @jpsherman

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