Site search vs. Google search – which is better?
Many website owners feel that these are the same. They may include Google’s on-site search solution, without realizing there are big differences between the two. Those differences can impact the user experience. And they can have a big impact on user engagement, user retention, and the bottom line.
In this article, we’ll explain the differences between in-site search solutions and Google’s on-site search box.
Site Search vs. Google Search
According to the marketing research firm Econsultancy, up to 30% of site visitors will use the site search box. That means that 30% of your visitors could be demonstrating purchase intent. As we’ll see below, this information has big implications for the user experience and the bottom line.
But is there a real difference when it comes to site search vs. Google search?
Google search operates just like the search engine does when adding the “sitename” operator to a query. Therefore, Google’s in-site search will use the same algorithm and dataset when delivering results.
There are several problems with this:
- Website owners have no control over the search algorithm.
- The search algorithm itself may change, which can impact the results that users receive.
- Website owners can’t prioritize content, products, pages, and so forth.
Although Google’s on-site search tool works, it doesn’t offer the same benefits as an in-site search solution:
- In-site search tools give you control over the search algorithm.
- You can prioritize whatever content you wish in the results.
- Since you can customize the search experience, analytics are even more powerful and can have an even bigger impact on your bottom line.
In-site search can even be monetized. Site search solutions such as SiteFuel and SearchFuel, both offered by CodeFuel, allow website owners to earn revenue with every search.
The first solution, SiteFuel, delivers results inside a visually appealing search grid. Revenue comes from recommended content and ads, which add more value to the user since they are tailored to search queries.
The in-site search solution SearchFuel works similarly, with a traditional search experience. Website owners can easily embed the box into their website, then earn a search revenue share with every query.
Why Site Search Is So Important
Today, in-site searches are becoming more common than ever. In fact, the larger the site, the bigger the role that site search plays in the user experience. Many times, in-site search is itself a go-to navigation tool.
In large websites, the search box is the first go-to navigation method people use to find what they’re looking for. On ecommerce sites, for instance, many customers would rather type in a specific product than delve through countless menus.
Other sites also make heavy use of search boxes:
- Knowledge bases
- Support websites
- Content-rich websites and blogs
- Media outlets
The more content you have – whether it comes in the form of products or articles – the more you need an in-site search solution that works.
Here are the major benefits you get when you implement the right in-site search solution:
- In-site searches indicate search intent. This allows ecommerce sites to find out what products are popular and which aren’t.
- Searchers are buyers. A study from Econsultancy suggested that visitors who use search can be as much as 50% more likely to buy than those who don’t…all the more reason to have a custom on-site search tool.
- Search data offers insight into customer needs. The right data will tell you what customers want from your business and your website. With this information in hand, you can turn around and offer it to them.
- Searches tell you about site usability. Search is critical to your site. But if users are searching at the expense of other navigation tools, you may need to make some changes to your information architecture.
- The search algorithm and search results can be optimized. When you can promote your own content, products, or services, you can influence customers. This is ideal for any website owner or business.
- The right search solution increases engagement and retention. The right search tool improves the user experience – the wrong one can increase bounce rates. The longer that users stay on your site to view content, the more they are engaged and the greater the chance they have of becoming long-term customers.
- A better user experience means a better profit margin. Ultimately, search solutions will have a direct impact on your bottom line. The better the search tool, the better the impact on the user experience and the profit margin.
Every search optimization tool is different. Some are geared towards analytics and some are designed to put money in your pocket.
Regardless of which search tool you choose, it’s important to recognize the benefits of site search vs. Google search. From increased user engagement to increased profit margins, site search offers many benefits that you just can’t get from Google’s tool.
What is site search?
Whether you’re a content publisher, an ecommerce site, or whether you simply have a large website, you need to what it is, how to use it, and why it matters.
What Is Site Search?
Everyone knows what Google is. It’s a search engine that crawls the web, retrieves web content, and delivers the results in a list.
Web search is very similar to site search.
Site search is a search engine that focuses entirely on a single website. These site search tools are common, and can be found on many sites throughout the web. The next time you visit your favorite media outlet or shopping site, keep your eye out for a search box or a magnifying glass.
On some sites, search is more prominent than on others. Ecommerce sites, for example, use search as a primary navigation tool. It makes sense for shoppers to use a search tool rather than attempt to wade through countless menus and submenus to find products.
Why Site Search Matters
As site size grows, so does the necessity for site search. So content publishers, wikis, and large websites can also benefit from site search tools.
Site search, therefore, forms a critical part of the website user interface. Usability relies on it. The better the search, the better the user experience.
When users can’t find what they’re looking for, however, bounce rate increases, engagement decreases, and the bottom line is affected. Whether you’re selling products or whether content is your revenue engine, you need to have a site search solution that helps your users.
Who Should Use Site Search
For some sites, site search may be too powerful or irrelevant.
These are the sites that will make the most from a site search solution:
- Content-Rich Websites – Media outlets, big blogs, and other content-heavy websites should have a site search component on board. There is still plenty of room for other navigation tools, such as related content widgets and menus. But site search plays a huge role in the site’s usability.
- Ecommerce Sites – Ecommerce sites stand to lose a lot if visitors bounce. Frustration at poor usability is a chief cause for low user retention and high bounce rates. The right site search can pay for itself in dividends by improving retention, increasing conversions, and elevating customer satisfaction.
- Knowledgebases – A knowledgebase or a help site cuts support staff costs and improves customer relations. For these sites, search tools are often the primary means of navigation, so it’s critical to have one on board. An offsite provider, such as Google, isn’t a good choice, since it may not even index much – if any – of the site’s articles.
- Forums – Forums are also go-to information sources for many visitors. Many members enjoy browsing and interacting with forum members. But if visitors are searching for specific information, they need to use a search tool. Forums and other sites that are updated regularly, such as classifieds, need internal search engines, since external search engines will often index small portions of these sites.
Regardless of your business, the right search solution can improve your users’ experience and put money in your pocket.
However, not all site search solutions are created equal…
What to Look for in a Site Search Solution
There are a variety of in-site search providers on the market.
What should you look for when shopping around?
On the surface, you may think that all on-site search is created equal. Since Google provides its own in-site search solution, many opt with the world’s largest tech engine. But Google’s in-site search tool doesn’t offer all same benefits offered by other site search providers.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for site search providers:
- Analytics – Analytics and search data tell you what your users are searching for. More importantly, it offers insight into their intent. On ecommerce sites, it tells you what they’re shopping for. On content sites, it tells you what content they want. This helps you better meet their needs and improve your site design.
- Customization – With the right search solution, you can customize your search tool as needed. You can prioritize content, serve ads, change the algorithm, and alter the design. The more you can control, the more you can tailor the search box to meet your customers’ needs.
- Design – Design is becoming more important than ever. Today, online content needs to be visually rich and concise. The more eye-catching it is, the better.
- Functionality – In other words, you need a search engine that works. Older site search solutions may not work well or may deliver irrelevant content, which is a sure way to decrease engagement and increase bounce rates.
- Monetization – Monetization may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of site search. But if you want to make more money – as every business does – you should investigate site search solutions that are monetized, such as SiteFuel and SearchFuel.