Search Performance Indicator

Over 60 percent of your customers will select one of the first three search results when they search on your website. Over 90 percent will select within the first page of search results. Basically, more people have been on top of Mount Everest than have been to the 500th search result.

On a typical public website or intranet, 5 percent of searches represent roughly 40 percent of search volume. Thus, even in very large websites we have found that the top 400 search terms represent at least 50% of search volume.

Adding the above and other research together we have come up with the Search Results Indicator (a part of the Search Performance Indicator). The Search Results Indicator can help you answer the following question:
How relevant are your search results to your customers?

A typical Search Performance Indicator project takes about 4 weeks to complete and costs €15,000.

Identifying your customers’ search success rate

So, how well is your search performing? Our Search Results Indicator identifies how successful your customers are in finding the most important things they have come to your website to find. The following basic steps are involved:

  1. Identify the top 200-400 search terms on your website.
  2. Identify the correct search result for each of these search terms. We work with you to agree on the correct search result.
  3. Search for each of these top search terms using your search engine.
  4. Based on our formula we will tell you the customers’ success rate when they search on your website. For example, a success rate statement might say: “When your customers search they find what they want 30 percent of the time.”

 How to improve your search results

Of course, you want to improve your customers’ success rate when they search. Our comprehensive Search Performance Checklist helps you do just that. Below is just a sample of the 100 plus search factors that we analyze.

  • Title meta tag: Incredibly important to search success. We have instructions for how to write it. How well written is yours?
  • Linking: The backbone of Google’s process for ranking a page. There are a range of link strategies that need to be followed.
  • Content: More and more search engines are moving their focus to the actual content on the page. There are rules about where to position your most important search words in your content.
  • Indexability: Your website needs to make it easy for search engines to index you because if your pages are not indexed, you simply do not exist.
  • Freshness and scope of site: Does the default search scope for your search engine cover the entire content of your website? It should.
  • Basic search design: Is your search box wide enough? Is it placed on every page of your website?
  • Query processing: Have you avoided placing explanatory text in the search box? For basic search, do you use the “and” query for multiple word searches instead of the “or”?
  • Results page layout: At the top of your search results page, is there a search box containing the words/phrases that were used in the search and a search button? Are you providing 10 search results per page?
  • Individual results layout: Does each search result have a two line summary? Does it also contain the file size?
  • Error handling: Are people able to start a new search on the “No Results” page and any other error message page? Are error messages written in polite language?
  • Error tolerance: Are simple misspellings properly managed? When people initiate a search without placing any text in the search box, are they sent to a dedicated search page?

Search has become one of the most critical tasks in a modern society and economy. Unfortunately, most organizations manage their public and intranet search environments extremely poorly. The Search Performance Indicator will help you make sure that your customers find what they’re looking for when they use your search engine.

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See also: Task Performance Indicator