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Internal Search and SEO: How to Get the Best Results with Marginal Adjustments

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

Rather than an idle search box on a website menu bar, onsite search is a vital tool for determining how your prospects interact with and navigate through your website. Smart site search helps you boost your SEO ranking with ease.

Business owners are beginning to realize that internal search is much more than an idle search box on a website menu bar.

Instead, site search is a vital tool for determining how your prospects interact with and navigate through your website.

That being the case, users expect an excellent search experience – which explains why some websites have a high bounce rate because 84% of customers want to find a solution by themselves.

More so, Google equally rewards websites that offer users an easier way to find what they need with priority access to new audiences through better search engine ranking.

Discoverability means relevance, which means more money.

In this article, we’ll review how your internal site search impacts your SEO efforts and how to optimize your internal search for better results.

From onsite search best practices to using internal search for better SEO, we’ve got all the data and exclusive insights you need to get the best results with marginal adjustments.

How to Optimize Your Internal Search for Better Results

It’s worth re-emphasizing that just because you have a search widget on your website menu does not mean you’ll get the results you need. If the search experience falls short of customers’ expectations, it becomes a liability rather than an asset.

Consider the following internal search best practices to ensure you’re not inadvertently placing a roadblock between your shoppers and the products or services they need.

#1: Search Bar Placement

To get a hassle-free internal search experience, the first consideration is to think critically about the placement of the search bar on a website.

That can significantly impact search bar usage.

The ideal placement of the search bar varies depending on the website design and its audience. However, as your website header is a prominent reference point for site visitors, placing the search bar on the website header is ideal as it makes it discoverable and convenient for users.

You don’t want your users to scroll through the entire website before they find the search bar.

You can also place the search bar on the navigation menu.

The navigation menu can also be a suitable internal search bar placement location, as users traditionally look in that area for essential tabs.

While your website footer should be the last resort for your internal search bar, it can still be effective, especially for websites with a large amount of content. It gives users a secondary location to access the search bar and can also help reinforce the search function's visibility.

The key takeaway here is to ensure that your site visitors can easily find the search bar wherever you choose to place it.

#2: Optimize for Mobile Phone Users

Estimates show that as of this month, 60.04% of all website traffic comes from people using mobile devices. Hence, mobile optimization is non-negotiable for improving the user experience of your website.

Here are some general best practices for optimum internal search experience on mobile:

  • Make sure the search bar is visible and accessible to users. You can achieve that by placing the search bar in the header or navigation menu or using a sticky header that remains visible as the user scrolls.

  • Use the appropriate tab size for the search bar to ensure sufficient spacing around it. Mobile screens are already small. Users will struggle with your search bar if you don’t consider that in your size and spacing UI decisions.

  • Intelligent search bar tools like HeyDay use an auto-suggest feature to make it easier for shoppers to input their search queries on mobile devices, as typing on a small screen can be challenging.

  • Optimize the keyboard that appears when a user taps on the search bar for mobile devices. For example, a search bar for a recipe website might display a keyboard with numbers and symbols relevant to cooking measurements.

Optimizing the search bar for mobile devices helps to encourage your site visitors to use the search functionality.

Again, research shows that as many as 47% of shoppers won't return if you make a terrible first impression.

#3: Offer Relevant Recommendations

Offering relevant recommendations adds some spice to your user experience design. It is an effective way to make visitors stay longer on your website as they don’t have to do much manual labor.

Consider the steps below for better output:

  • Use "autocomplete" to provide users with suggested searches as they type, making it easier for them to find what they're looking for with little effort.

  • Display a list of popular searches to give shoppers ideas of what could catch their attention. That can also help improve your content strategy as it provides insight into content in most demand on your site.

  • Offer personalized recommendations based on their search history and other behavior on your site.

  • Show a list of related searches to help your site visitors find similar content they might be interested in, even if it's not entirely their original search objective.

With HeyDay’s AI-powered search tool, you can get all the essential tools to enhance your internal search experience and boost your search engine ranking.

#4: Make The Search Box Design User Friendly

Make the search bar easy to use and include a clear call-to-action. Avoid any clutter or distractions around the search bar to ensure it stands out visually from other elements on the page.

Equally essential, make the design of the search bar consistent with the overall look and feel of your site for a seamless user experience and brand consistency.

Add a placeholder call-to-action text, such as "Search" or "Find," to the search bar. That communicates the purpose of the search bar to users and makes it easier for them to use it.

You should also regularly test and iterate your search bar design to ensure it’s progressively effective and user-friendly. Consider using A/B testing or other methods to gather user data and feedback, and use this information to improve your search bar design continually. With HeyDay, you can access valuable data and user journey insights for better testing and iteration.

#5: Sort Search Results Appropriately

The essence of internal site search is to help users find what they’re looking for in the most efficient, harmonious, and effective way possible. Hence, intelligent site search helps you quickly sort search results for a better search experience.

To achieve that, you begin with ranking results according to how closely they match the user's search query, sorting results based on indexes like price – either from low to high or high to low. That can be especially useful for customers with a specific budget.

Other vital search sorting metrics include dates, especially for websites with time-sensitive content, such as news websites or blogs. You can equally sort results by popularity, especially for websites with user-generated content, such as forums or social media sites.

You can use average product rating for your sorting process as it’s vital for customers looking for high-quality products well-reviewed by other customers.

Some eCommerce sites like Shopify offer custom sorting options that allow customers to sort search results based on specific criteria such as color, size, brand, or other product attributes.

How to Use Internal Search to Improve Your SEO Strategy

Google has set the SEO bar pretty high these days.

Intentional, not haphazard work, is how you get on the prized first page of Google search results. By using internal search to inform your SEO strategy, you can improve your website’s user experience and drive higher search engine rankings.

With internal site search data, you will no longer fly blind; wondering what your users are doing on your website. But you’ll have data to keep track of search behavior, and optimize your search algorithm to enhance the user journey. You can continually improve your SEO strategy and ensure that your site remains relevant and accessible to users.

Here’s how:

#1: Level Up Your Search Algorithm

Using HeyDay’s AI-powered search bar ensures you don’t have to build the complex architecture yourself –which is capital intensive and extremely complex.

HeyDay search tool has the basic functionality of prioritizing search relevance with keyword matches, product titles, descriptions, and categories and taking into account synonyms and related keywords.

But it also uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the intent behind the user's search query and deliver more accurate results. For instance, if a user searches for "black shirt," your search algorithm should understand that the user is looking for black colored shirts and not white shirts or trousers.

Equally vital, using machine learning algorithms to improve your search algorithm continuously, HeyDay ensures that search results adapt to user behavior and search patterns for better results.

It also regularly analyzes your users' search behavior to identify patterns and trends. You can use that information to inform your SEO strategy and improve your site's content and structure to improve the user experience and search engine rankings.

#2: Keep Track of Search Queries

Keeping track of search queries helps you gain valuable insights into user search patterns and search intent for informed SEO strategy and website optimization. Thus, you can stay ahead of the competition and continually improve your search engine rankings.

And HeyDay provides extensive analytics to help you understand how your users interact with your website. You can identify popular keywords and topics or incorporate them into your meta tags with that data. You can also use Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics to track the search queries on your site.

Also, by keeping an eye on user search behavior and logs, you can track the most common search queries to identify popular keywords and topics for better SEO strategy.

#3: Use Internal Search results for a Effective Content Strategy

Internal search data is valuable for improving your content strategy.

Analyzing the search terms on your site gives you extensive insight into what topics are of interest to your audience, helping you to create more relevant and engaging content. Aside from that, you can also identify areas of search relevance improvement for better search results.

Further, you can track the search terms used to find specific pieces of content and measure competitiveness.

If users are searching for topics that aren't on your site, you can use this information to identify new content areas for your audience. Such a proactive content strategy helps improve your search ranking and relevance in the industry.

How to Know What People Are Searching For on Your Website

As we’ve emphasized repeatedly, understanding what people are searching for on your website gives you valuable insight into their needs and interests.

That’s a crucial metric because it informs your content strategy, overall user experience, and user interface designs.

If you’re not using HeyDay to streamline the process and extract sufficient data for seamless internal search and user journey decisions, below are some pointers for better optics.

  1. Look into search logs. Analyzing internal search logs can give you a valuable overview of the search terms visitors use and the frequency of usage.

  2. Evaluate autocomplete suggestions. The autocomplete suggestions generated by the internal search bar can also give you insight into what people are searching for on your site.

  3. Poll your site visitors. Using the good old surveys and feedback system is another way to determine your user’s search habits.

  4. Integrate third-party analytics tools. Tools like Google Analytics or Hotjar can provide a broad view of the search terms driving traffic to your site.

These insights will come in handy when developing new products and business opportunities, for making better decisions on products to feature for more sales, SEO-friendly blog post decisions, terms or phrases to use for your products/categories, and for new categories to add for more customer acquisition.

Overall, internal site search has an extensive impact on SEO as it helps you:

  • Improve the user experience of your site;

  • Increase content discovery for better customer acquisition;

  • Plan keywords and meta tags thoughtfully for category leadership;

  • And build a better business.

If you’re not already using HeyDay’s intelligent search framework, you are leaving money on the table.


About the Author

Tom-Chris Emewulu is HeyDay’s Digital Evangelist. With 8+ years of digital marketing and business development experience, he crafts high-intent, high-converting, data-driven SEO articles that put brands on page 1 of Google search. Forbes, DW, Business Insider, Businessss2Community, and many other publications have featured his works. You can find him on Social Media via @tomchrisemewulu.


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