How to teach search engines to handle customer requests

Search engines can become an excellent business tool and actively stimulate e-commerce sales. With smart search, business owners can turn a healthy profit, increase conversion rates, and provide a superior user experience. However, this is only true if the site's custom search engine processes visitors' requests competently and provides relevant results.


Top 4 types of customer requests

Search engines have a complex and very important task — correctly define the query and then determine the relevance of results. The difficulty is that customer requests can vary widely even for the same item, and the search engine must be able to cope with all of them.

There are four main types of queries according to research by Baymard Institute

  • Precise searches (e.g., Xiaomi Mi Vacuum Cleaner G10)
  • Requests related to an item's characteristics (e.g., wireless headphones)
  • Compatibility (e.g., iPad case)
  • Search by symptoms (e.g., something to decorate the house)

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Many search engines provide effective results for a user's query if they write it in an accurate form. The situation becomes more complicated when people start searching by characteristics, product type, or synonyms. In this case, the search engine may not give results at all, or it may show products that don't fit the customer's request. Therefore, it is important for modern companies to optimize their search engines and improve the relevance of search results.


There are different factors that help improve the conversion rate of search engines. For example, setting up a search index that contains important information about the product is one strategy. Details might include name, category, description, product type, tags, additional data on quantity or color, and related products. If there is insufficient data, then the search engine will not receive the necessary information when scanning the site index.


Ways to increase website relevance

The four types of queries described in the article above are far from the limit of what people can really write in the search bar. The search query may not always reflect exactly what the user wants.


People often write ambiguously, use synonyms, make mistakes, or even introduce strange phrasing on purpose to see different results. It is not always possible to understand such phrases without using additional functions. Therefore, the best search engines use various approaches to interpret inputs and increase the relevance of results.

Natural Language Processing

The processing of natural language is an affordable method for improving search results. In simple words, natural language processing (NLP) is a program's ability to understand human speech exactly as it is written. If you've ever asked Siri to text someone, then you're familiar with NLP.


In 2019, Google search engine added a complex NLP process that has improved language processing. The update allowed the system to better understand every word in the search phrase, completely changed the language-processing capabilities of the search engine.


Let's look at a search query example. Imagine that one customer searches for "frequent airplane passenger programs" when they really meant "frequent flyer programs." Another person writes "order printed leaflets" and also means "flyer." In the context of the phrase, people can easily understand what each user intended. But the science of computing search engines could not determine the "intentions" of users in the past to distinguish between these nuances.


In the case of flyers, the system did not understand what result to give. As a result, both people received a search engine response that matched the text or structure of the query but not the intended meaning. NLP has changed this because it analyzes unstructured text to understand its meaning. This method of improving relevant search is especially valuable if the basic product information has many components (e.g., multiple categories, sizes, colors, etc.) that customers could write in their search query.


Personalization

Almost 90 percent of retail marketers use personalization but not all turn to advanced tactics. However, those who have chosen advanced personalization have good returns—$20 for every dollar invested.


Special attention should be paid to the personalization of search engines because up to 43 percent of converted customers use the search bar when they visit the site for the first time.


How can I personalize my search?

With the help of customer data such as gender, purchase history, age, or previously visited pages.

The more information you have about the buyer, the better the level of personalization will be.

But what should you do if the user is anonymous? You can still use any available data, including IP address, browser type, time of year, and more.


Top 6 tools to help your search engine handle different queries

Are you on the hunt for the best search engine? Before choosing, consider whether the program has these important tools for processing different customer requests:

1. Reading with errors

People may make mistakes in their request if they're in a hurry. If your site doesn't have an error-reading function, it could annoy or alienate potential customers. Google search engine almost always understands users, even if there is a typo. Your website should also be able to do this. Many programs also offer auto-correct features; this is also a good option to win people over.

2. Understanding synonyms

The same product can have several names. A person could intend to search for "boots" but write "tall shoes" in the search bar. If your search engine doesn't understand such a query, and there are boots in your inventory, the user will not know about it. As a result, the person will go to a competitor, and you will lose the chance to make a profit.

3. Voice search

People are used to submitting their requests by voice. This is convenient when a person is driving a car, preparing a meal, or even walking down the street. Many people prefer to communicate with Siri because it speeds up the process of finding the right information. Voice search is available in Google's search engine and other systems. Therefore, it should definitely appear on your website as well.

Just imagine how much your brand's image could grow in the eyes of a potential buyer. Smart search engines show that you have a modern website that values the comfort of customers. This means that people are more likely to choose your e-commerce store to make a purchase.

4. Filters for easy search

Let your customers define their own search criteria to minimize the number of options and find products faster. Filters can be configured b country of manufacture, price range, size, brand, and more. The exact criteria will depend on the product category.

5. Transliteration

Imagine that a customer accidentally types an English word on a Cyrillic keyboard. Google understands even strange foreign-language queries and easily translates them into the desired language. Your search engine may have similar opportunities. If a person writes a request using the wrong keyboard layout, your site can give exactly the right result. This will be a pleasant surprise for the buyer and would certainly increase respect for your brand.

6. Morphology

Internet users may think that they are entering a request in the right way (e.g., typing in "webcam"). What if your site lists the same product as “web-cam" with a hyphen? Your site could return zero results because of this simple oversight. Therefore, it's important that a search engine is able to recognize different morphological forms of a word and provide relevant results.


How to choose the best search engine to improve your user experience

Website search is a powerful feature that helps customers find products while allowing companies to analyze requests and provide personalized content. It's not enough to have a basic search for this. A modern e-commerce site needs an intelligent search engine that can process human speech and understand various types of queries. To choose the best platform for yourself, research the top search engines.


At Evinent, we present a convenient search engine that provides relevant search results with filters, search history, search-query analytics, and more. Check out our tool in more detail by visiting this page.




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Evinent GmbH is a Germany-based company specializing in platform development for mobile devices and delivering B2B/B2C solutions without compromising on outstanding user experience.

At Evinent, we take pride in transparency and detailed planning throughout the entire process. Our goal is to empower our customers to increase profits, expand their businesses, and drive growth.

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