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Site search isn't new but it's becoming increasingly important

Over the last 20 years, Google has been our go-to for information. Human beings have been trained to type into a search box for an expected return of relevant results in seconds. Users are bringing this same perspective to your website. You have to be prepared to meet the user’s expectations or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Believe it or not, the optimal student experience begins with the search bar.

According to ux.stackexchange.com, more than 50% of users on a landing page of a website head straight to the internal search box to navigate through your site. Ensuring this piece of real estate is working to its fullest capacity is essential to success.

The Search Box is important for several reasons:

  • It surfaces content quickly: Users don’t have to manually search through your website to find what they are looking for.
  • Bounce rate reduction: Users who struggle to find what they are looking for easily are very likely to leave your site with no guarantee of returning.
  • Improved UX: Armed with insights on how your visitors are interacting with search, you can fine-tune the search experience to provide relevant results or address the missing content users are looking for.
  • Delivering a keyword powered content strategy: Search queries tell you exactly what visitors are looking for. Analyzing these results can lead to new keywords you can utilize for organic SEO and paid SEM purposes.
  • Delivering an optimized experience & higher conversions: The search analytics you receive helps create an optimized user experience & drive conversions.

Powerful site search not only helps users to navigate your content easily, the search result page (SERP) is your first touchpoint and interaction with your users. Just as a web SERP helps users find what they are interested in, the same is true when a user uses search on your website. If they can’t find what they are looking for quickly and easily, after a few attempts they will leave with no guarantee of a return visit.

As a higher education institution, prospective students, parents, current students, alumni, faculty and staff all need to be able to find information on your website. How do you ensure they can find what they are looking for?

The ability to make the use and consumption of your site as easy as possible is really the first step in delivering the optimal user experience. In a world where today’s students are receiving a personalized experience almost everywhere they go online, surfacing the right content at the right moment isn’t a choice, it’s an expectation that must be met.

Effective site search enhances the user experience by surfacing relevant content, therefore reducing bounces, increasing engagement and increasing conversions. It can help bolster or even reshape content strategies and improve the UX of your website. In the end, powerful site search adds to the value you are already providing.

This blog first appeared on Funnelback.

Learn more about Funnelback for Higher Education can help your institution.
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