How to Create a Searchable Site – 9 Tips for Content Creators
One of the most common questions from Squiz customers is ‘how can I make my website more searchable?’ – and it’s easy to see why.
A ‘searchable’ site not only gains greater visibility in Google, Yahoo and Bing, but also provides visitors with an enhanced search experience; in short, it increases the chances of someone finding your website, as well as the likelihood of them eventually becoming a customer.
Getting search right can pay huge dividends (site search visitors can generate as much as 13.8% of overall revenue); but getting it wrong can come at a huge cost (88% of consumers are unlikely to return to a site after a poor experience).
The answer is a combination of tools – such as analytics, results promotion and strategic auto-completion – and best practice content techniques. You can find more information about Funnelback search tools here; but, for content techniques you can put into action today, here are our top 9 tips for a more searchable site.
1. Make it bite-sized
The point of search is to find the information you need, quickly. If an employee searches for ‘long service leave’ on your intranet, only to be faced with a PDF file of your entire employee management policy, that’s not a great result. If some of the documents on your website are too long, consider publishing them as separate chapters or sections to help users find only the specific answer they’re looking for.
2. Add a ‘best before’ date
Depending on the topic, knowing whether a content item is more than 12 months’ old can make the difference between being useful and useless. Ensure date metadata is correct, either by publishing the page-level date in a supported format or configuring your web server to send the correct document modified dates to the HTTP headers.
3. Keep titles simple
Title tags are often used as search result titles and play a crucial role in establishing a strong information trail. Keeping page titles unambiguous and simple will give users a clear indication of the result's content, purpose and context.
4. Don’t duplicate (yes, we know it’s tempting!)
Good metadata can also be used to provide faceted navigation – but bad metadata is worse than having no metadata at all, so don’t be tempted to duplicate the same metadata for every page. Instead, use Funnelback to index and use metadata for display purposes – such as presenting the metadata abstract rather than the auto-generated snippet.
5. Be creative with link text
Link text is defined as the words that form the text of the hyperlink when creating links in your HTML. Avoid using link text like 'More' or 'Click here'. Instead, connect the link to descriptive text, for example ‘Read our 5 simple tips on how to make the most of your search analytics’.
6. Bee specific
If your website subject matter is ‘insects’, it’s highly likely that the word “insect” is already dotted all over your website. Keep this in mind when creating specific pages and distinguish between topics as clearly as possible. For example, if the page you’re creating is specific to bumble bees, always use the term “bees” or “bumble bees” rather than insects, to make it easier for users to find content specific to bees.
7. Talk your customers’ language
The more frequently a query word appears in your page copy the better (within reason – it still needs to sound natural). Try to use words that are relevant to the target audience, mimic the terms they might use to search and make sure that these terms are included in titles, content and anchor text.
Remember that your organisation is likely to use more formal words and phrasing than the general public; for example, “waste disposal services” versus “bin collections”. Funnelback’s synonyms matching is a fast and effective tool to transform user language into internal language, to allow for more flexibility and cast a wider net on search options.
8. …and listen, too!
Funnelback features a range of analytical tools that can help you to understand more about what your customers are searching for; namely, the ‘top query’ report, which displays the top searches, ranked by popularity. Over time, this information will arm you with the insights to make decisions around your site’s content and maintenance, including which subject areas need to be prioritised.
9. Find the missing links
While tracking your most popular searches will help you to prioritise content more effectively, your top non-matching query reports (those that return any fully matching results) help to identify:
- Language differences
Users searching for language that differs from that used on the website – which can be addressed using Funnelback's synonym matching tool.
- Missing content
Users searching for content that doesn’t exist on your website. If the search query is legitimate, it’s a golden opportunity to fill the gap by adding the missing content to your site. If it isn’t a search that’s relevant to your site, you can still improve the search experience by directing the user to an alternative site where they’re more likely to find what they need.
- Common spelling mistakes
Whether accidental or not, users often misspell – a problem that hasn’t been helped by increased mobile use. If you start to see a high number of queries with incorrect spelling (where the intent is obvious) Funnelback’s synonym matching tool can automatically correct errors to ensure the search is successful.
Searchability is, arguably, the most important aspect of your website. Customers want to find the information they need quickly. If they can find that information on your site, they’re more likely to trust you and, importantly, more likely to buy from you. All you need to do is help them!
For more information on how you can create a highly searchable website, read our latest eBook, Increase conversions and cut-through with site search.