Best Practices for Instant Search Box - What to Do With ‘No Search Results’

Posted by Billy Gray on

Best Practices for Instant Search Box - What to Do With ‘No Search Results’

Want a quick and easy way to increase your store’s conversion rate? Is that even a question? Instant search best practices help your site’s visitors get to where they want quickly and easily. It’s a simple way to make your eCommerce store more customer-friendly while also driving up your conversion rate. We’ll look at ways to improve your search box, as well as no search result suggestions to improve your website’s UX. 

thursday boots example search box tips boost commerce
Thursday Boots has a top-notch search box that shows product photos, collections, and more. 

Allowing visitors to find what they want, even when they’re not sure of the specific product, is what determines how good your store’s design is. After all, you can have the best product pages in the industry, but that doesn’t mean anything if no one ever lands on them. This is why it’s important to make sure you’re never showing a ‘no search result’ page that doesn’t lead people to a related product. 

You need to follow instant search best practices to get this right. 

What is instant search? 

Instant search is when the search function on a website narrows down the available results as you type, without redirecting you until you click on a result.  

  • If you type ‘jacket’ into the search box, thousands of results might show. 
  • Type ‘jacket bomber’ and it narrows to several hundreds. 
  • Carry on - ‘jacket bomber leather’ and now only 29 results are remaining. 
search narrow down asos example search box tips boost commerce
An excellent example of search box from ASOS.

You’ve narrowed down the available results before even pressing Go. Now you can see exactly what you want and you didn’t even need to be redirected. Any products that don’t fit the new words you’ve entered are knocked out of the results until you’re left with only relevant products. 

This is instant search. It’s quick, convenient, and increases your website’s conversion rate by getting people to where they need to be in a flash. 

Why instant search is important for your store

Having instant search makes the customer journey easier, which increases the chance they’ll buy from you. Streamlining the journey customers take on your website has been proven to increase conversion rates by making sites more user-friendly. 

hm search suggestion search box tips boost commerce
H&M makes suggestions in their search box, but they could also show images and upsell popular items. 

Visitors to your site expect to be able to reach the checkout in as few clicks as possible. Ideally, they should be able to go from your landing page to the checkout in three clicks or less. This means you need to give them what they’re looking for straight away and if you don’t have the product, then show no search result suggestions to lead them to similar ones. People aren’t going to dig through your store looking for a product they don’t even know you have. 

Research shows that 79% of users who don’t find what they’re looking for on a site the first time will abandon and head to another website. 

Traditional search bars force customers to redirect to the search results page and make another query if they’re taken to the no search results page. How many times do you think a visitor to your site will accept being redirected before they bounce? 

Furthermore, designing your eCommerce website to give the customer the best experience will also improve your SEO ranking. 

  • Instant search lets customers find what they want quickly in a live format 
  • It improves your website’s UI 
  • It stops customers from having to be redirected, which reduces your bounce rate 
  • It improves your website quality, which in turn improves its SEO ranking

Instant search best practices

Your store’s instant search should allow visitors to find the product they want without putting any hurdles in their way. This means your instant search box needs the following: 

  • Autocomplete 
  • Typo-tolerance 
  • Synonyms 
  • Product photos 
  • Product price

Having these features will make your instant search widget much easier to use, which in turn boosts your conversions and reduces your store’s bounce rate. I’ll elaborate on these essential features in the next section about what to do when your search brings no results. 

 boeing store search box tips boost commerce

Boeing Store shows product info like price, photos, and reference numbers in the instant search box. 

Include product photos and price in search 

People don’t like being redirected around your website - they want to be able to see everything they need quickly. Having a product photo and the price in the search box as live results appear will increase your search UX and improve your chances of making a conversion. 

What to do when a search brings up ‘No Results’ 

Sometimes your site visitors won’t find any results for a search. The worst thing you can do in this event is to leave them with a ‘No Results’ page that doesn’t suggest they go somewhere else. Leave them with this, and they’ll likely abandon your website. 

Instead, you can: 

  • Suggest similar search queries that do yield results 
  • Suggest similar or related products 
  • Suggest other popular products on your store 
  • Offer customer support through chat or phone numbers 
  • Offer personalized results based on their search history 

The internet has moved on from the days of HTML websites and ‘No Results’ pages. Your site needs to move on with it to avoid losing business. 

You can integrate the above solutions into your site search with the Product Filter & Search app from Boost Commerce. 

Why is the traditional ‘No Results’ page bad for business?

Visitors to your site don’t have the patience that they used to. Nowadays, people mostly browse the web on mobile devices and they expect things to be quick and simple. Glitchy experiences like slow page load times and empty search results put roadblocks in the way of the customer journey and lead to frustration which causes people to leave your site. 

There are plenty of other eCommerce stores on Google that will sell your products. If a visitor can’t find their desired product in your site search they’ll assume you don’t stock it and move on to the next store - or worse, your competitors. 

There are several things you can do to reduce the bounce rate when your customers can’t find results for a search. 

1) Use search analytics to find queries that yield no results

Use your search app’s built-in analytics to identify commonly searched queries that yield no results, then get to work optimizing your site content in the following ways: 

  1. Add the products people are searching for that you don’t stock
  2. Add synonyms to existing products so they appear in these searches
  3. Promote relevant or related products on your website so visitors can see them 

If people are frequently searching for products related to yours that you don’t stock, then it’s about time you put an order in to meet the demand. You’ll find money falling right into your pocket! 

 top search terms with no result boost analytics

Boost's Analytics feature shows top search terms with no result.

2) Build a bank of synonyms 

Another effective way to reduce your bounce rate is to build a bank of synonyms for the products you sell. For example, if your store sells winter clothes then you could add the synonyms ‘jacket’ and ‘coat’ so that swimwear results show when these words are searched.

gymshark synonyms search box tips boost commerce

Gymshark set synonyms for 'jacket' and 'hoodie'.

Try to find as many synonyms as you can for each product that you stock. You can use your site-search analytics reports to help you see what customers are frequently searching for. 

Doing this allows you to capture more searches and prevents visitors from giving up on your store in frustration. 

3) Use autocomplete and typo-tolerance 

Autocomplete helps visitors to see what you’ve got in stock while they search. If you type ‘winter’ and the search bar suggests ‘winter coat’ and ‘winter jacket’ then I can confidently assume that these products are available in the store. If I don’t like what I find in one category, then I can switch to the other suggested ones to find even more products.

headphone zone search box tips boost commerce

Headphone Zone does a great job with their search box when using auto-complete

Typo-tolerance is even more important. My chubby fingers are prone to hitting the wrong letters on my phone’s keyboard, and this leads me to frequently misspell words. Your search box should account for this common mistake by recognizing typos and suggesting corrections - or by just ignoring the spelling mistakes altogether. 

If your search ignores typos, then it should make this move apparent. You can do this by leaving a message like ‘showing results for red checkered shirt’.  

Typo-tolerance does wonders for your search UX so make sure you’re using it on your eCommerce store to reduce your bounce rate. 

4) Suggest alternative products

If your store doesn’t stock any products similar to the one a visitor is searching for, then you still shouldn’t leave them empty-handed. Show them some of your popular products that they might also be interested in. With any luck, you’ll still manage to bag yourself a conversion. 

no search result suggestion boost commerce
You can suggest alternative search terms and products using Boost Product Filter & Search

Any result is better than no result. The key to reducing your bounce rate through search is to always offer the visitor something that might be of interest to them.

no search result suggestion before after boost commerce 

5) Provide customer support

Visitors might want to contact you to see when you’ll have an out-of-stock product or to get more information on other products. Provide a contact number, email, or chat support to ensure visitors have some way to seek help if necessary. 

reddress no search result example boost commerce

A nice follow-up when a search return no hit on Red Dress.

Search analytics: Why you need it

Site search analytics reports give you deep insight into search terms that people are using, terms that end in no results, which search filters are being used, and the number of searches your site is generating. 

This information can help you to tweak your website’s content to meet the demand of your customers. Using search analytics can also help you to plan promotional campaigns and measure the success of existing ones. You can also use it to anticipate future sales trends. 

You can use the Boost Analytics feature on the Product Filter & Search app to gain insight into your site search and optimize it to increase your conversion rate. 

Final thoughts

Optimizing your instant search box and plugging ‘no results’ holes is a sure-fire way to improve your conversion rate and keep your bounce rate low. Make sure you’re never leaving visitors with nowhere to go and be sure to look over your search analytics reports to get a deeper insight into what your site visitors are looking for.