A Checklist for Ecommerce Site Search

If you’re just getting started fixing your site search where should you begin. This checklist is an excellent starting point for site search optimizations.

Exact search queries Do you support exact search queries? Ones where a user types the exact product name or part of the exact product name? Ex: ipad pro
Do small misspellings or phonetic spellings produce relevant results anyway? They should.

Product type searches Search for a product type that is not a part of your site’s hierarchy. Ex: “blender” rather than “kitchen appliances”. What happens?
Ideally the category will be suggested as a search scope anyway, even though it’s not part of the site pre-configured hierarchy.

Feature searches What happens when you search for a product type and a feature? Ex: “cashmere sweater” or “bluetooth headset”. The search results should include relevant products. Products matching both feature and category should be ranked higher than products matching only one. If you have filters enabled, appropriate filters for the search results are should be displayed for further refinement.

Search box placement Does the search input box accurately communicate the importance of search as a product finding strategy to the site?

Search box size What happens when you copy-paste a search query from an external site such as Google or Amazon? Does your search input box display at least 30 characters and allow at least 70?
Does the search input box inform users if characters are stripped from their pasted query? The actual search terms used should be displayed at the top of the search results.

Search box persistence Do search terms in the search input box persist on the results page? They should.

Autocomplete presence Does your search input box provide autocomplete query suggestions? This is a great feature for ensuring good search terms that will match relevant products.

Autocomplete quality Does your search autocomplete suggest redundant or irrelevant queries? Specifically try to avoid dead-end, duplicate, decorative, indistinguishable, or nonsensical suggestions.

Alternate query relevance Does your site search suggest alternate formulations of queries? Does your site support a “Did you mean?” feature to correct spelling mistakes?
Always suggest highly relevant alternate search terms to the user’s search, and suggest even moderately relevant alternatives in case of low-quality results

No results pages What happens when there are no results available for a given search? Are you helping your customer to recover and search again? Are you providing alternate search terms along with some product recommendations? You should be.

Relevance cueing for exact matches Are you highlighting or otherwise emphasizing near-perfect matches to point out their higher relevance? You should be. This could be a visual indicator such as a box outlining the top result.

Collect and review search logs Are you logging all search activity on your site? Do you have a regular review of the search activity and know the top trends and search terms?

Results page details Are you showing secondary product attributes on the search results page to allow users to quickly and easily evaluate product relevance?
Revealing even more information on mouse hover events or cleanly integrating it into the search results page layout are ideal approaches.

Filtering Does your search results page support filtering based on the user’s search query? Filters should be relevant to the search results and applied only to the results of the current search.

Sorting Are users able to sort the search results based on price, quality, and other important attributes?