What Amazon.com Teaches Us About On Site Search
Amazon.com continues its tour de force in online retail. The company has attracted 20% of the worldwide online retail traffic through its inbound marketing and paid search campaigns. Over 282 million unique visitors. Now that’s impressive!
Most of Amazon.com’s visitors find their way to the site through a Google search, but the refined searching to find what you ultimately purchase is increasingly happening on Amazon’s site. Google gets you to Amazon, but Amazon ultimately connects you with what you’re buying. There’s an element of control in this scenario that’s appealing. That got me thinking about how I could ad on-site search for my customers using the Hubspot CMS. This blog shows how I did it.
As inbound marketers we ply our trade with content, on page SEO, inbound link campaigns etc. to raise our brand to the top rank in Google search so that visitors will find our websites. But what happens after Google directs a prospect to your site? What if they don’t find exactly what they were looking for? Most will go back to Google. When they go back to Google and do another long tail keyword search, will you again rank or will your competition have out foxed you for that particular search... which could mean a missed conversion opportunity?
If I’m a content provider, say for medical information on drug interactions, I’d prefer to have my prospects searching my site for information rather than going back to an internet-wide Google search. Similarly, if I’m a bank, I’d prefer to have prospects search the services I alone offer once they’ve found me by my brand. A high school or college would rather have prospects search their course offerings and content rather than opening a search to competing schools.
I’d like my site to be more like Amazon.com (who wouldn't?). Once Google drops a prospect on my site, I’d like that prospect to search my site if Google didn’t direct them to precisely what they were looking for. But if you’re using a CMS like Hubspot, which is great for managing and measuring your inbound marketing campaigns, one of the features that’s missing is on-site search.
Build or Buy Your On-Site Search
In the past I’ve used open source search tools like Lucene or Sphinx to build on-site search. That approach can work but it’s not for the non-programmer – certainly not most inbound marketers - and when you add up the hours you put into building your own general purpose, on-site search, I’ve never really felt the value was there.
Google, it turns out, provides custom search that can be adapted to provide a really great on-site search for your website hosted on a CMS like Hubspot. The functionality is provided through the Google API, and while there are free versions of the technology paid for by advertising, (remember Google is collecting data about your searches so I use the term free with a bit of license) I found I could create a much cleaner, on-site search for my Hubspot customers using the version that costs as little as $100 per year , which you can purchase here. You will need a Google account, which you can create on-line to set up your custom search.