When it comes to growing your business and improving customer retention, one of the biggest things to consider is search. If you’re not making sure that your organization can be found, and specifically the information that people want can be found, then you’re setting yourself up for trouble.
Why Search Matters
Did you know that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine? That’s a huge share of your user base that are finding you directly through Google, Bing or any other search engine. And if you aren’t optimizing your content to make sure that they can find you, it means you’re missing out in a big way.
But you need to focus on more than just Google.
Sure, Google is one of the biggest search engines out there and it’s where most people are going to go when it comes to looking for information. But once they get from Google to your website you need to make sure they stay there. And that means making sure they can find what they need.
Once someone arrives on your site you need to make sure that you also have a search box that will get them from whatever page they land on to the pages that they really want. If you do, they’re more likely to stick around. If you don’t, they’re likely to bounce right back out and look for someone else.
In fact, research shows that half (or more) of all visitors will look for a search box on your website first thing. And since members are proven to value immediacy and relevancy over authority and credibility, if they can’t find that search box and immediately get directed to what they want, you could lose out.
All of this is why it’s crucial for you to bridge the gap between what people can find and what they want. It means providing an online community that inspires knowledge sharing, building trust and credibility, addressing usability challenges, and making the entire experience as seamless as possible.
The Five Pillars of Successful Search
When it comes to succeeding in getting visitors to your site and staying on your site there are five important pillars to look at. These are:
- Content strategy & search
- Offsite search
- Onsite search
- Reputation management
- Paid search
We’re going to take a little closer look at each of these different aspects in-depth, so you can understand how they work for your organization.
Content Strategy & Search
The first thing you need to know is how your current content is performing and unfortunately, most organizations find that they are underperforming. You may have amazing quality content, but if it’s not properly curated and planned out with a proper strategy it’s just not going to work.
Your strategy needs to be targeted so that it’s purposeful, meets the needs of your audience and focuses on specific audience members. You need to focus on the specific people that you’re writing to rather than just trying to be everything to everyone, which only winds up with your organization completely lost and disappointing everyone.
You can’t just dump content into the website and expect it to succeed. You have to make a plan. Check out our guide on how to get started with content strategy.
This is the traditional search engine aspect that you probably think of when you’re working on creating content. You think of people showing up from search engines and that’s extremely important because 51% of website traffic comes from organic search. That makes it 5-6x more successful than paid ads (which we’ll get to in a minute).
All of this means that you absolutely need to optimize your content for SEO purposes, to make sure that people can find it from a search engine. But you do that primarily by creating high quality, credible content, focusing on filling your audience’s needs, and using all of your channels to help.
Video especially is a great way to go and will help you attract even more potential visitors to your website. But you can’t just put video content on your website and expect it to work. You should be using it on your social media channels as well.
When someone shows up on your website you want to make sure that they stay there. That means making it as easy as possible for them to find what they’re looking for. After all, approximately 53% of users will immediately go to the search box on your website.
Once they find that search box they’re looking for it to act just like any search engine they’ve ever used. The more you optimize your search features the happier your users are going to be and the more likely that they will find what they’re looking for (which means they continue on your page).
This process means making sure that you have, at a minimum:
- Sort capabilities
If you’re really looking to impress potential users you’ll also want features like:
- Boolean search
- Sort and filter (by date and relevance)
- Context solutions
- Keyword highlighting
- Boost for best results match
- Clear search box option
- Back to top
- Loading notification
- Error notification
When you pay attention to each of these things and make sure that your search functions onsite are just as intuitive and easy to use as the ones offsite, you’re going to impress your users and get them to trust you to provide their content needs.
You are responsible for everything that people think about you and your organization. It’s all about building up a positive reputation that will get people to pay attention in a positive way and want to engage with you.
Make sure you’re monitoring everything that people say about you online and that you’re engaging with that content. Feedback is always a good thing because it can help you to be better. So make sure you engage and provide additional feedback for each person who engages with your brand, whether in a positive or negative way.
Having a positive reputation is essential not only for customer retention but for hiring as well. So make sure that you are keeping your reputation as positive as possible. Even responding properly to negative feedback will help improve your reputation.
Finally, approximately 10% of search traffic is coming to you through paid search. That means all the money you pay to a search engine to get your results in an optimal spot are only contributing 10% of your page traffic.
Still, that’s not a good reason to ignore this type of search. 10% is still a great amount of traffic and you absolutely want to keep getting that support. But remember that paid search should not be your magic bullet to get the users that you’re looking for because it’s just not going to happen.
Instead, make sure that you’re starting out with high quality content and then building on that with paid search. Also, make sure that you’re paying attention to the content that you’re paying to promote. Instead of promoting the weak or useless content, promote high quality content to get the best return.
Search Strategy Keys to Success
When you start optimizing search in all of these areas you’re going to have a much better chance to achieve your business objectives. Presenting yourself as the expert in your field and considering all stages of your audience’s interactions with your content will ensure a better experience of your brand online.