Almost all websites, in all shapes and sizes, offer their users the option to perform an internal search that goes through the site’s content and directs the users to their destination. Site-Search is considered a non-questionable feature, a default component to be located on the site’s pages, just as the Home button or the social sharing links. However, for such a must-have feature, it seems to be underutilized by site owners in several aspects.
First, site-search can act as a tool for signaling the most involved users. Users who turn to the site-search have the highest potential of being engaged in what the site has to offer. In fact, this potential is being proven over and over again in all sorts of engagement metrics. Users using the site search tend to visit, on average, more of the site’s pages and they stay there longer than other users. This, together with the fact that these users have a higher chance of returning to the site in the future, compared to users not using the search, suggests that they have a strong interest and confidence in the site. These all make these users excellent candidates for an engagement increase, so efforts in this field should definitely target them.
Second, the search functionality is a great analytical tool for figuring out what the site’s users are in to. Apart from measuring bounce rate, visits, clicks and dollars, nothing will shed more light on the users’ intent than their query strings. Instead of guessing what type of content they’d like to get to, inferred from their navigation patterns, why not just let them tell us this explicitly? This golden information, obtained with zero cost, can direct the site owners when creating new pages and sections and even when handling their SEO targets. Above all, it serves as a unique opportunity to drive users to perform actions. As a matter of fact, the users have already acted, and it’s now the site owner’s chance to strike while the iron is hot.