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Improve site search with the power of suggestion

Most of you know that I work with large companies on improving their site search. [Disclaimer: I am a Senior Strategist for SoloSegment, which sells site search improvement technology.] But one of the ways to improve site search that you might not have though of is with search suggestions, the clever technique that guesses what searchers will type based on what has been searched for in the past.

You’ve probably seen these auto-suggest capabilities when you use Google or other search engines. Most site search experiences have one, too. Unfortunately the way they work doesn’t do much to improve site search. Sure, getting suggestions makes the experience a bit better, but it doesn’t offer much help in searchers finding what they are looking for.

The secret to a search suggestion tool that actually makes search better is in the analytics. First, you need to identify how you know when searches are better, which you can do by measuring the experience. Failed searches yield no results, or yield results that aren’t clicked on–or results that get clicked on, but the searcher quickly returns back to the search results page. You can guess that anything else might be a success.

Now that you can measure your successful searches, you have something to work with in auto-suggest–you can suggest not just keywords that are popular, but those that get the highest success rates. That way you are nudging searchers into choosing keywords that are more successful. You haven’t done any heavy lifting, but your searchers are suddenly finding more of what they are looking for than before. Such is the power of suggestion.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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