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Beyond the Click: What Shoppers Need Now - SES San Francisco

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We're approaching the end of Day 2 here at SES San Francisco, and it's almost time to don your hat for tonight's Black Hat, White Hat event. But hold your horses -- we've got one more session to go.

Bryan Eisenberg is back to moderate speakers: Nitin Mangtani (Google), Noran El-Shinnawy (Acquisio), Lee Cohen (Become, Inc), and John Federman (Searchandise Commerce).

Let's go.

Noran is up first. She spells in Queen's English (hey, everyone should!) and she loves shoes. Noran has just become my favorite presenter.

Search is made up of three main parts:

- Organic
- Paid
- Internal

We often forget about internal search, but internal site search needs love too. The problem is site search usually sucks -- only 50 percent of onsite search is successful [that's really bad].

So here are five lessons we can learn from search engines:

1. Have No Dead Ends

- Rather provide suggestions to refine search, or provide a phone number to call.

2. Use "What Did You Mean?"

- Refine results using search logs
- Use synonyms and related terms
- Use auto suggestions

3. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

- Avoid Flashterbation (haha!!)
- Make your search box easy to find and put it in a place that's obvious on the page
- Don't have competing search boxes
- Don't tell people about advanced search

4. Show Just Enough

- Make sure you don't cut yourself short in your result choices
- At the same time don't overload with unnecessary the results

5. Keep Up, or Get Out

- There is hope: 57 percent of companies are planning to increase investment on site search
- Use customer satisfaction surveys (like ForeSee) to make sure you are doing a good job

Lee is up next.

In the past, users came in from home pages and navigated easily to where they wanted to go. Now, people come in to different pages within the site and can easily get lost. Lee agrees that onsite search can make it a lot easier for users to convert.

Tips for Onsite Search

- Use above the fold space wisely
- Limit text
- Always show potential products
- Use synonyms and misspellings
- Provide search suggestions
- Provide search/nav options
- Filters should never be in the way of products (only 2 percent of people use them)
- Highlight your hits to make things easier to find

Key Takeaways

- Recognize that users aren't starting on your home page
- Make on-site search a priority
- Constantly look to optimize your onsite search as you do with your search marketing

John steps up to the podium next.

Online research is driving commerce, but it's important to remember that 50 percent of people who research online, still purchase in store.

Information sought is unique, depending on the source:
- Retail websites (often the first step in the research process) = promos, coupons, reviews
- Search engines = comparing products, reviews, expert reviews
- Manufacturers webstore = product specs, guarantees/warranties, customer support
- Physical stores = brands offered, comparing products, promotions

Your position in search engines are really important, even more so with online retail. Seventy percent of shoppers click on products in top positions in the search engines so you need to be placed well whether it's on your site or the search engines. Interestingly, users interact with retail search the same way as search engines, so applying learnings from search engines to onsite search is really important to do.

Last up is Nitin who's going to share some interesting numbers with us.

Important Tips

- The faster the search response time, the better
- 60 percent of people find site search optimization to be the second most effective way to boost sales
- 42 percent of visitors to online retail sites say the first thing they do is type the product name or category into the site search box

Search is an online shopper's best friend, so it's important to get right. Mobile is also emerging as a source of online retail sales: one in five shoppers said they intended to use their cell phones to shop during the holiday season.

Well, that's all from Day 2 folks. Go grab your hats and a beer or two.

This live blog post was written by guest blogger Imelda Khoo. Imelda is the E-Marketing Manager at Tektronix, responsible for global SEO, PPC and social media. Imelda blogs at SEM Booty and is also on Twitter @imeldak


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