Search Runs on Data
The defining difference between an excellent search experience and a substandard experience is relevance. How relevant are the product results to your shopper’s intent? The more relevant, the more engaged the customer is likely to be.
The foundation of an engaging search experience is the quality of your product metadata. Without useful metadata you are reliant on undifferentiated text searches which do not perform nearly as well when it comes to returning relevant products. While full-featured search engines will always be better than using database full-text indexing, quality metadata takes relevance to a new level allowing fine-grained relevance tuning and dynamic facet filters.
Whether your site’s search is powered by your database or a full-featured search engine, your first priority should be ensuring that you have the metadata you need to implement better search. If you already have additional unused metadata as part of your product catalog, ensure it is searchable by combining it with all product details into a index. You may be able to derive this metadata from product descriptions that you parse and filter into metadata fields. Your suppliers should be able to provide you with a structured data file you can map into database metadata fields.
Once you have a good foundation of product metadata, you’ll have much greater control over how you rank your products including how to promote items based on sales, inventory and profitability once you integrate metadata into search.
Additionally, product metadata supports faceted navigation (dynamic filters), which provides a much better search experience for users. Rather than requiring users to progressively iterate their search to narrow results, they can use rich filtering to quickly narrow down the results of their first search. Shortening the path from that first query to the most relevant products tends to increase conversions significantly.