According to new research from Econsultancy, companies worldwide are increasing their investment in site search because they want to improve the experience for website users and increase site usage and sales.
The Site Search Report found that 57 percent of companies are planning to increase their spending on their on-site search technology over the next year. Another 40 percent plan to maintain the same budget.
The research, published by Econsultancy today in association with internet and enterprise search company Funnelback, is based on a survey of more than 500 companies worldwide carried out in April and May 2010.
The most widely perceived advantage of site search is a better user experience, with 83 percent of companies saying this is a "major benefit".
Increased site usage and increased sales are the next biggest benefits. Sixty-five percent of respondents say "more site usage" is a major benefit, and 64 percent say additional sales is a key advantage.
The research also found that many organizations are dissatisfied with the search functionality on their websites, and the extent to which they are harnessing knowledge from their site search tools.
Just 41 percent of responding companies are "satisfied" their site search helps them to deliver against their business objectives. This compares to 31 percent of respondents who are either "quite dissatisfied" (19 percent) or "very dissatisfied" (12 percent). The remaining 27 percent of companies are "neither satisfied nor dissatisfied".
Only 7 percent of companies say they are "efficiently learning from site search and distributing these insights across the business". Forty-six percent are "partially" doing this but 47 percent are not learning from site search at all.
Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, said in a press release, "Most organizations are increasing their investment in site search but too many companies are missing out on some basic site search features which can significantly improve the user experience and help them meet key business objectives such as increased sales."
Stephen Morgan, Managing Director at Funnelback UK, said: "Despite improving technology the results show that, on average, only half of all searches result in website users finding what they are looking for. This underlines the problems many companies have with their site search."
He added, "The need for quality website search is accelerating, as internet users get used to increasingly sophisticated and relevant returns. A great search engine needs to deliver a fast, accurate result set and then expand on this to allow the user to correct, expand or refine what they're looking for, quickly and easily."
Other findings include:
- Twenty-seven percent of companies surveyed use functionality which comes integrated with other software, making this the most commonly used type of technology for site search.
- Twenty-three percent use Google site search, while 15 percent use site search technology developed and deployed in-house. Only 16 percent use a specialist site-search vendor, and 10 percent use open source technology.
- "Higher development priorities" are the biggest obstacle to the implementation of effective site search, according to company respondents. Thirty-five percent say this is the one of the three biggest barriers.
- Forty-five percent of companies have site search in place that supports phrase-match queries (e.g. "hello world"), while 41 percent say their site search supports misspellings, synonyms and acronyms. Only 39 percent have technology in place which enables them to customize rankings, while 33 percent offer contextual navigation.
- Only 10 percent of companies have an individual or team dedicated to site search. Forty-two percent of companies either have an individual or team looking after site search as part of wider responsibilities, and another 42 percent say that no-one is responsible for this. The remaining 5 percent use an agency or consultant to manage this.
- Thirty-seven percent of companies use site search technology which is free, and this number increases to 56 percent for companies with "a turnover of less than £10 million," or $15.6 million. Thirty-three percent of companies say the cost of site search is included within other software fees.
The research costs $249 and can be found at Site Search Report.