Regardless of what your e-commerce store sells, your biggest opportunity to boost conversions likely lies in faceted search navigation. Search Spring research shows that faceted search can result in a 20% boost in conversions when compared with pull-down style or hierarchy style search.
Let’s explore the characteristics of faceted search, how it benefits your customers and your website sales, and how you can implement it on your e-commerce website.
What Is Faceted Search Navigation?
It’s a mouthful to say, but the concept is actually much simpler. In fact, you’ve probably used it yourself in your own online shopping experiences.
Faceted search navigation allows users to filter their search results options based on specific criteria. For example, someone searching for long-sleeved shirts on your clothing website can use faceted search to find a black cotton shirt in a medium size from a particular brand, or any combination of those criteria in any given order.
This is a stark contrast from traditional e-commerce search. Historically, users would have to specify their own criteria when searching for an item. Now faceted search gives users sub-sections and preset options so they can filter through options as gradually as they like.
In essence, this allows users to narrow the number of products they see to find the specific item they’re looking for. Or, to put another way, it gives website owners a chance to deliver better results based on the buyer’s interests to increase the likelihood of a purchase.
Benefits of Faceted Search
Faceted search offers a variety of benefits for both the customer and the store owner, especially if you have a large number of similar products on your website.
Let’s take a look at some of the key ways you can unlock more sales with filter-based searches:
Better User Experience
Your customer’s journey has a lot to do with your own success. When you can deliver a concise, simplified search process, they’re more likely to find what they came looking for.
Also, faceted search features take the buyer through the various filter options, so there’s no guesswork involved on their part. Your filters are relevant to the products in your store. Options typically display the number of items in a given category so shoppers know what to expect.
As a result, locating products becomes easier and more efficient, giving the visitor a quick and simple way to fulfill their needs and reducing the likelihood they’ll bounce from your website due to a poor user experience.
Faceted search is proving to be a dominant force in e-commerce SEO, but it’s full benefits are only just beginning to be realized.
Crawl efficiency has a lot to do with how well your website performs in the SEO department. For larger e-commerce sites, this is a major issue when you have hundreds or thousands of products and product pages, especially when you have similar versions of the same product or category.
Faceted search navigation appeals to both your shoppers looking for a user-friendly experience and search bots that are grading your content.
There are some downsides to poorly designed faceted search that can negatively impact your SEO. Every possible combination of facets creates a unique URL, which can imply your content is thin and can dilute your link quality. In addition, multiple pages could be competing for the same keywords, resulting in a form of keyword cannibalism.
To combat this, you’ll want to decide which facets offer no search value (e.g. size or price) and blacklist them from search bots. Or, you can turn off crawling and indexing of all filtered pages to prevent SEO issues.
This only goes to show that when designing for faceted search, it’s best to partner with an expert on the subject that can help you get the best results.
More Data-Driven Insights
The data you collect from your users scaling down their searches can be powerful in helping you detect patterns and recognize what products people are interested in.
For example, if you find that the majority of your shoppers search for medium sizes instead of small or large, you know to stock up on mediums. If they search for blue ballpoint pens more than black ballpoint pens, you might expand your product variety of blue ballpoint pens.
The more specific data you can get about what your shoppers are interested in, the greater chance you have of stocking your store to meet their needs.
The end results of all of the above benefits is, of course, more conversions. Faceted search navigation leads shoppers straight to the products they need, which puts you in a much more likely position to win the sale.
How to Maximize Faceted Search on Your E-Commerce Website
There are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when designing a faceted search feature if you want to reap the full benefits:
Make Your Facets Relevant
Your filter options and data structure must be relevant to the products you sell. For example, if you sell televisions, your buyers should be able to filter industry-standard sizes. For clothing stores, filtering by color, size, and type (shirts, pants, shoes, etc) is essential.
Choose from Horizontal or Vertical Search
Faceted search can appear across the top or along the side of the results page. Horizontal is best used if there are only three or four filter options. For an extensive list of facets, vertical is usually best.
Clarify Your Choices
You can break down broad categories into subcategories. For example, gourmet food sellers might have a parent category of non-chocolate items, which break down into nuts, candy, and popcorn.
Include Customer Reviews
Amazon is widely known for allowing shoppers to filter selection by review. This ensures they only receive vetted products in their search results to help them make a better buying decision.
The Whole is Greater Than Its Parts
There are a lot of pieces to faceted search navigation, but the whole is greater than its sum. Better search is critical to providing a top-notch user experience, and the resulting conversions will easily make implementing faceted navigation worthwhile.
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