Search Success Tracking

You spend a lot of time and energy optimizing your search, but do you really know how well your search is working? With our powerful Dashboard Analytics, you can see which queries are popular, return 0 results, and have high (or low) click through rates, but how can you get an idea how your search is performing overall? Easy: with our Search Success Tracking.

This feature (for Batman customers, or ecommerce customers with Holmes and above) gives you valuable insights into your search's performance across several metrics and over time. This knowledge can be used to fine-tune your search results and improve your user experience, so you can watch your search success score grow!

What information does search success tracking show me?

The first piece of data you see is your Overall Score, which we compute with the following formula:

4 x CTR + 0.2 x Search Session Rate - Zero Result Rate - Abandon Rate + Filter Rate

Improving the positive metrics (CTR, Search Session Rate, Filter Rate) and reducing the negative metrics (Zero Result Rate, Abandon Rate) will improve this score. The most important thing about this number is how it is changing⁠—you will want to check regularly to make sure your adjustments are leading to an increase.

Search Success Tracking with Improving Score

Now we will go through the rest of the performance metrics and give you some tips to ensure they are trending in the right direction.

How can I improve my click through rate/CTR?

It is perfectly normal to have individual queries with a low CTR, perhaps because a visitor is searching for something on your site or in your shop that simply doesn't exist. When your click through rate across ALL queries is low, however, it is time to dig deeper.

Head back to your Analytics and scroll down to All Queries. Sort your queries ascendingly by CTR and filter down to queries with at least 10 unique searches (or more, depending on your search traffic).

Now take a look at the list of queries. Keep an eye out for queries where you would expect to have highly relevant search results.

For example, this client might know they sell products from the brand teenage engineering, so why is the click through rate just 33.33%?

There are of course many reasons why this could be, and it will require a bit of guesswork to determine the cause.

First, click on the search icon under Actions to preview the results. This will take you to the search preview and show you the search results your visitors are seeing. Are the best matching results displayed first? If not, consider adjusting your page boosting (or, for ecommerce, your ranking strategy). If you are dealing with a top query, you might also take the time to create a fully customized result set using the result manager. These options give you the opportunity to put your best search results on top to encourage your visitors to click.

If you aren't sure which results should be on top, try clicking the information icon under Actions. This will open the full details of the search query, including what your visitors searched for before and after they searched for the query at hand. This might provide a hint as to what your visitors are really looking for when they use that query.

Take our query "teenage engineering" again.

We can see that 3 visitors followed that query by searching for specific products. One product was even searched for twice, and this is a product that is unfortunately near the bottom of their search results!

This shop can either adjust their ranking strategy to ensure this product moves up higher, or they can create a result mapping and pin this product to the top position. If this product is popular like the search analytics suggest, moving it higher in the search results could improve the CTR for this query in the future.

The search query details also show popular results, which are search results that were clicked for this query. These are also good candidates to move higher in your search results, especially if they have been clicked several times.

Seems like too much work? Don't worry—our search collects this data and learns from it over time. Just set your page boosting strategy to Learn each document's importance automatically.

For ecommerce customers, you can also take advantage of our machine learning algorithms by adding these attributes to your ranking strategy.

If your search results are already perfect, is it possible you or your team has skewed your CTR by testing the search and not clicking any search results? If you do a lot of search testing, be sure to read about how to prevent tracking certain users.

How can I improve my Search Session Rate?

Your search session rate is the percentage of visitors to your site who use the search bar. This is not likely to change from month to month, unless you have changed your site design or ran a campaign that encourages visitors to search for certain pages or products.

There are definitely best practices when it comes to positioning and designing your search bar. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Put your search bar at the very top of the page.

  • Make sure your search bar is fairly large and does not blend in too much with your design (consider a contrasting color). The more prominent the search bar, the more attention it gets, and the more likely a visitor is to initiate a search!

  • Show a dedicated search button to trigger the search, instead of just pressing enter.

  • Consider meaningful placeholder text that tells the visitor exactly what they can search for. Instead of just "Search here" try "Search for article number, product name, category, or brand."

  • For more advice on your search, check out our free ebook about custom search engines for websites.

Another way to encourage interaction with your search bar is to use our result manager to create curated search result pages instead of landing pages for sales or other campaigns. You can add a banner and select the perfect result set to fit the promotion you are running. Not only does this increase awareness for your search, it also saves you a lot of time and effort since you no longer have to create designated landing pages.

For example, imagine you sell musical instruments and you want to send a newsletter promoting the best electric guitars for beginners. Simply create a result mapping that shows the products of your choice and use that search query in your link (e.g. to direct your visitors from your newsletter right to this curated result page.

You could even add ongoing promotions to your search suggestions so visitors see them as soon as they click into the search bar.

Need some inspiration for a search redesign? Browse our customer gallery for search implementations you like.

How do I reduce my Zero Result Rate?

Your zero result rate shows you at what rate your visitors search and find no results. This can happen when your visitors search for something that just does not exist on your site, but it can also happen when your search requires some fine-tuning.

In your analytics, you will find a list of zero result queries. We recommend checking this periodically to see if any queries come up often that return no results. If so, there are a few ways to fix this issue and improve your user experience.

For example, this music shop had 5 visitors search for "harley benton" and 4 for "microcosm", and neither query returned any results. The reason is the same: the shop does not carry products from the brand Harley Benton nor the specific product called Microcosm.

One option the shop owner has is to use the result manager to create a result set for "Harley Benton" that shows their best-selling guitars as possible alternatives. Similarly, they could show other effects pedals when the visitor searches for "Microcosm", even if they do not sell that exact pedal. When presented with similar products, it is possible this customer will find something else they like instead of landing on a zero result page and deciding to check out a competitor's site instead.

Perhaps you see in your zero result queries that your search does not recognize a relevant synonym. For example, your blog has tons of barbecue recipes, but your visitor searched for "bbq" and found nothing. You can put these synonyms into the dictionary to make sure you surface all your relevant results for both queries in the future.

How do I reduce my Abandon Rate?

Abandon rate in the Search Success Tracking view refers to executed searches where the searcher left the results page without clicking on a single result. Increasing your click through rate will reduce your abandon rate.

Keep in mind it is completely possible that your search results are thorough enough that your visitors find the information they are looking for without needing to click a result. For example, if you show the date and location of events in your search snippets, someone searching for an event to find out the time and place would not necessarily need to click the result. In cases like this, your abandon rate is nothing to worry about.

What is Filter Rate and how do I improve it?

Filter rate shows you how often your visitors are using your search filters. Similar to the abandon rate, if your search results are precise enough, there may be no need for someone to use filters to find the result they want. Still, it is a good idea to check your analytics and look for generic queries to check how your visitors are engaging with your filters (or not). For example, an online shop should look out for product category queries, such as "headphones" or "guitar", while a blog might look for unspecific queries like "recipes" or "travel."

If you find queries with 20, 50, or 100+ results and your visitors are still not using filters, it is worth asking yourself a few questions:

1. How useful are your filter options? For ecommerce, filters like brand and price are crucial. For content search, consider offering publication date, topics or tags... other ideas?

2. How are your filters ordered? If they are currently ordered alphanumerically, consider ordering them by usage instead. For ecommerce customers, you can simply select this as a setting under Filters and Ranking.

For content search customers, you can monitor your top used filters to make sure the ones that get clicked the most are positioned higher in your filter list than less frequently used filters.

3. Where are your filters positioned? With our search designer, you can choose between "left" and "top" positioned filters. Which is right for you will depend on your site design and your filter options, so do test out both and see which looks and functions best for your particular needs.

Left filters:

Top filters:

Now you have several ideas what you can try to improve your search experience, from adjusting your boosting/ranking to making curated result sets and dictionary entries to changing the location and design of your search bar. Trying even just one strategy can increase your search quality score and make sure you and your visitors get the most value out of your search.

If you have any questions or need more personalized advice, do not hesistate to reach out!