A car without a key is more frustrating than functional. So is a website with poorly executed site search.

Search is an essential — yet often under-optimized — website feature. According to Forrester, only 13 percent of digital experience decision-makers view search as a technology priority.

Search on many corporate websites is an understaffed, IT funded afterthought,” Forrester analysts concluded in a 2015 report.

Should I invest in search technology?

Should I invest in site search technology?

Site Search Changes Everything

But site search is slowly gaining more respect. Because of its potential to yield high returns, more companies are recognizing its power to define success.

Andy Uzick

Andy Uzick

As ARKE‘s Andy Uzick and Coveo‘s Simon Langevin explained during a presentation at Coveo Impact in San Francisco last month, optimized site search helps visitors quickly find paths to relevant content.

  • Machine learning drives experiences
  • Calls-to-action are relevant and compelling
  • Content relevance grows as visitors interact with the site, without the need for constant analysis and tweaking

Site Search > Content Indexing

To be clear, there is a vast difference between content indexing and site search, explained Uzick, ARKE’s Sitecore Practice Director. Websites need content indexing to function. Search, on the other hand, promotes successful visitor outcomes.

Content indexing stores selected fields of content items into a separate index. Those items can then be retrieved rapidly by code.

Site search indexes the content of viewable pages. That means whole pages can be found using free text search.

“An example of this is a site visitor entering a few words in a search box and getting back a page of ranked results, akin to a Google search,” Uzick said.

Site search is not a luxury, he continued. “It’s a must.”

Site Search Basics

Simon Langevin

Simon Langevin

Uzick and Langevin, Coveo for Sitecore Product Manager, are both Sitecore MVPs.

During their collaborative presentation at Coveo’s three-day user conference, they offered real world insights on the ways advanced site search creates better customer experiences.

“Today, search is a normal behavior,” Uzick said. It provides site users enhanced access to information, relevance, and personalization.

Coveo provides artificial intelligence (AI) powered search and recommendations solutions. It promises to improve stakeholder engagement across all digital experiences, driving self-service intelligence from websites to contact centers and intranets.

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Their message: Intelligent search has the power to personalize content to each one of your website visitors, making your investment in visually stunning and compelling website content worth it.

Coveo: A Gartner Leader

In a March Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines, Gartner recognized Coveo as an industry leader in both execution and innovation.

Insight engines provide more-natural access to information. As Gartner analysts explained, “Insight engines apply relevancy methods to describe, discover, organize and analyze data. This allows existing or synthesized information to be delivered proactively or interactively, and in the context of digital workers, customers or constituents at timely business moments.”

Gartner said Coveo is quick to deploy (fewer than six months). It also offers “exceptionally rich auto-suggest capability,” and benefits from close partnerships with companies including Sitecore and Salesforce.

“Marketing and content teams need to own the experience and site search is a huge part of it. Coveo enables us to create search rules to drive content rather than curate content for each page,” Uzick said.

The Concept of Journeys

Intelligent site search deepens insights about customer behaviors. That enables companies to capitalize on low-hanging fruit and improve return on investment.

That’s especially important in terms of customer journeys.

Clicking on a search result is just a step in the visit of the user. “Using sessions allows you to keep track of that same user,” Uzick added.

First, you define a goal, such as a sale, a subscription to a channel, or a deflected support case.

“The journey ends when the user has accomplished something valuable, or when he/she gives up along the way. Your search solution should give you the tools to track all the outcomes,” he added.

 

The long term outlook for site search

The long-term outlook for site search

Noreen Seebacher is the content evangelist at Arke, where she researches, writes and continues her long career in news reporting as a brand journalist. Noreen lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with her husband, her dog and four formerly homeless cats.