Search function Outdated website search disappoints customers [study]

Anyone who has ever searched for information on company websites quickly realizes that website search is usually out of date. Particularly frightening: in many cases it has not developed any further since the 90s – that is, for over 20 years.

Consumers often use company websites as a contact point if they have specific questions about products, services or other information from companies and brands. But even if they look at the supposed source, they rarely find answers to their questions – this is the result of the representative “Site Search” study by Yext. In this way, companies are wasting an enormous amount of potential and disappointing their existing and potential customers.

Of the approximately 2,200 study participants in Germany, 55 percent stated that they used the search function on a website at least once a week. 18 percent look there at least once a day. But almost a third of those surveyed (32 percent) who search on company websites rarely find the answers they are looking for. This has a negative impact on the search experience: a quarter of searchers (25 percent) say they are frustrated with a website search every week.

Infographic: Germans’ expectations of the search function of websites

Users particularly complain about the following when searching for a website:

  • Information in the results is out of date or simply wrong (30 percent)
  • Search function returns results unrelated to the question (29 percent)
  • Searching company websites doesn’t understand the question (27 percent)

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Failed searches have drastic consequences

Those who cannot find answers to the questions asked search instead using search engines such as Google (36 percent of those surveyed). This is where it gets tricky for companies: Once customers google for the information, the chance that the competition will provide the correct answer is much greater. Correspondingly, companies have to work hard to win back customers and at the same time hold their own against the competition. That usually costs – both effort and budget.

Infographic: Satisfaction with the search functionality of websites by industry

By the way: After a disappointing search experience on the company website, almost a quarter of the searchers (23 percent) buy from a different company than they originally intended.

Positive search experiences have an impact on willingness to buy

People who search for answers on websites say:

  • A good search experience makes buying a product or service more likely (53 percent)
  • a good website search experience increases trust in a company (46 percent)

The study also concludes:

If searchers knew that they were getting correct answers on the company’s website, they would go straight to them (55 percent).

Why is that important?

Companies and brands have full control over the information about their company and their products only on their own website. And you don’t have to invest in advertising or better findability in order to attract the searching customers.

So what can you do

Use the search function on your website. Try out for yourself what the search experience is like there. Is it in need of improvement? Then make sure you don’t use a 90s search engine on the site. Let your search provide answers instead of just confusing link lists.

Users want to be understood. On the one hand, by providing automatic search suggestions, as we know them from Google – for 26 percent of those surveyed that would be a clear plus point. On the other hand, because your website understands the questions of the searchers. In concrete terms, this means that searchers can ask direct questions in natural language and do not have to laboriously search for the right keywords – for example, “Which branch is open near me?” Instead of the keywords “Branch opening times”. More than a third of the survey participants (37 percent) stated that they would then use the website search more often.

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