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How to Handle Too Many Search Results – The Paradox of Choice

October 17th, 2013 by Dan Bulauski

More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to site search results. Too many search results can be just as frustrating as no search results. You may have heard of the paradox of choice; in a nutshell it means that when people are given too many choices consumers become anxious and unable to make a decision.

Just like Google searchers most people aren’t inclined to navigate past the first or maybe second page of results. That means it’s critical to have the most relevant results on the first two pages and search terms that return hundreds of products need to be optimized for easy navigation.

First you’ll want to prioritize which search terms need some work. Use your site search analytics to identify search results with a high volume of searches, more than 2 – 3 pages of results, and low conversion rates. I always recommend that the next step is to conduct some usability testing to gain insight into the reaction of “real people” when they search on one of the terms.

You don’t necessarily have to conduct expensive usability tests, you can use internal resources who are not familiar with your website and share a persona that’s similar to your customers. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be surprised at their reactions and the insights that you’ll gain.

At minimum search for each of the terms yourself and do your best to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and identify opportunities for improvement.

Here are 3 great ways to help handle too many search results:

  1. Implement faceted navigation – give consumers a way to easily navigate through a large set of results by attributes such as size, color, and material. This makes it possible for someone to quickly fine tune the results and minimizes the potential negative impact of too many search results.
  2. Utilize filters – allow visitors to narrow or organize results by things like brand, price, and best sellers. This helps searchers control what they see on the first page of results. If the products are organized in a way that makes sense to the user, they are also often-times willing to navigate through multiple pages.
  3. Create Dynamic Landing Pages -the results for broad search terms such as “party supplies” can be categorized into groups such as: themes, decorations, tableware, party favors, and costumes. Create a landing page that looks similar to a category landing page with a graphic representation and link to each subset of products. Then set up a re-direct for the search term “party supplies” so the searcher is taken to an organized and attractive page instead of a hodge podge of results.

If your site search platform doesn’t have a method for implementing these strategies, you may be sending your visitors to the competition. Contact us today and learn how one of our site search solutions can help you handle too many search results.

Dan Bulauski

Dan Bulauski

Greetings! My name is Dan. As the Vice President of Sales at Thanx Media, I oversee all customer relationships and ensure they're receiving a superior experience.

You can learn more about me on our Thanx Media management page.
Let's link up to share great content & ideas: @thanxmedia | G+  

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