Introduction to SearchSpring
SearchSpring is a plug-and-play, hosted search solution that makes it easier for shoppers to find the right product on your eCommerce website. With a business-model based primarily on customer ROI, your success is their goal.
SearchSpring has identified 2 principal pain points across ecommerce world:
- Site search on many sites isn’t performing the way business owners expect.
- Standalone solutions have too many constraints on what’s indexed, searchable, and how it’s served.
Why pay attention to site search?
Aside from the fact that you want your users to be able to find your products...
- Visitors using site search are more active and want to engage.
- Users who search typically have a higher Average Order value (AOV).
- Conversion rates are higher for users who search.
Reasons to fix your site search
You've likely experienced at least one of these 4 issues at some point. How much work did you have to put in to alleviate the issue? Have you resolved it yet?
- High Bounce rates
- Low conversion rates
- No customer loyalty & few return visitors
- Mismatch between categorical side-navigation and search results pages
About the Product
SearchSpring is lightweight. With just a few lines of code on your site, you get access to a powerful and dynamic search functionality that will increase your conversion and retention. SearchSpring does not affect your current eCommerce platform, but rather it extends and refines your sites navigation and structure to generate dynamic and targeted results.
1. Controlled Indexing: regardless of eCommerce platform, select how your items are indexed
2. Rich Autocomplete and IntelliSuggest: learning how your visitors shop
3. Live Inventory: updates your indexing as you change inventory - in real-time (for select eCommerce solutions, otherwise every 3 hours)
4. Stemming, Synonyms, and alternative suggestions: handles user error and allows for defined similar terms
5. Field Boosting: promote items with certain attributes
6. Dynamic Results and Product Recommendations: every page is as accurate to the search as possible
7. Allow Product Comparisons: check off products to compare their attributes
8. Fuzzy Search: control how strictly the algorithms should base suggestions
9. Redirects: define trigger keywords to send users to certain products or pages
10. Automated SEO Cloud: fully hosted and spider-able sub-domain landing pages
How SearchSpring Works
Underneath the hood, the basic process looks like this:
- Your product information, including price, color, and all other tags, is passed to SearchSpring via a supported API or your own, hosted CSV or XML feeds
- SearchSpring regularly parses and indexes this information and creates complex relationships between items based on which tags and properties you wish to index
- You define product campaigns, alternative listings, and the crawlability of products, which affect the algorithms that display your listings
- The end user is served with dynamically created product listings and suggestions that more accurately represent your catalogue and match their search terms
Fundamental to SearchSpring’s power is the combination of flexibility to control how your products are indexed and the ability to account for human error. By handling common misspellings, synonyms, and derivative words, you can be assured that your searches are more likely to yield a positive match and reduce user exits from a “no results found” page.
Because the search is dynamic, not only does the search box present users with a number of similar search terms from which to select, it also shows images of popular items related to that search. These visual and responsive features engage the user and increase the likelihood that they will click through to your landing pages and continue their search.
Now that you understand basically how SearchSpring functions, here’s what to expect when you make the call to see a live demo.
Getting started with SearchSpring
During your call you will receive an estimation of your potential revenue bump using their service, which is based on their 6 years of averaged ROI data with various eCommerce platforms (so they are normalized and fairly accurate, if not conservative, figures).
You will go through the following steps:
- A personalized onboarding session to get to know your business and introduce you to all of the product tools and features
- SearchSpring engineers will help to refine your search taxonomy, set up keywords, create redirects, clean up product data, and set up your search algorithms
- A functioning mockup of your site is built in their dedicated sandbox to show you the new functionality and tweak the navigation to your liking.
- Their support team helps you to integrate the code snippet into your site
- Between 2-3 weeks of data collection
- Another support call to help you to fully understand the data, make any refinements to your algorithms, and go over advanced functionality
The setup is very hands-on and allows for the user to have a guided and customized, high-level breakdown of the SearchSpring platform and tools. One of the best things about this process is its indefinite nature. The setup process can be as long or as short as required; they are there to support you as long as needed until you feel comfortable (and even after you are comfortable) with taking the lead on modifying your site search.
Learning the Interface and Tools
The SearchSpring interface is as clear as it gets. Eight tabs provide you with intuitively labeled sections for modifying the core aspects of your new search functionality.
The main screen of the SearchSpring interface, this section is primarily for site overviews and your integrated Google Analytics results for search revenue vs non-search revenue.
This is one of the most important sections in the SearchSpring interface. From here, an admin is able to modify what elements of the products are searchable, comparable, and if they should be “Boosted” or promoted.
This section is used to define what alternative words should link to the same product. Handling alternative spelling, redirects, and other user-input settings, this tab is also where you would go to define products that you don’t carry and redirect the search towards products that you do.
Effectively an internal ad generator, use this section to set up criteria and triggers that, when met, will show HTML banners and ads in a user-designated space on the results page. Use this to run seasonal advertisements and promote certain products or deals. For extra revenue, charge your vendors for any number of keywords or triggers to display their ad and run your own version of Adwords on your eCommerce site.
This is where your actionable recommendations will come from. Find out how your customers are searching and what they are searching for to make adjustments to your algorithms, search synonyms, and product associations.
Some ways to use the reporting section:
- Identify your highest performing search terms
- Find recommendations for synonyms based on “did you mean” suggestions and searches that return zero results
- Get ideas for future and missing inventory
- Optimize the order of filters (widgets for sort by rating, by size, by color) based on how often customers engage with them
3rd Party Apps
Google analytics as well as any compatible third-party software and eCommerce Integration / API configurations will be configured here.
eCommerce Platform Direct API Integrations Include:
- Magento (with ability to track live inventory counts)
- Miva Merchant
- Pinnacle Cart
- Yahoo Small Business
- Spree Commerce
The advanced section handles features such as Fuzzy Search (where you set how strictly you want your algorithms to follow your settings).
Overall Impression of SearchSpring
The concept itself, from a high level, is invaluable. If you aren’t taking advantage of a solution like SearchSpring you are likely leaking traffic like a sieve. The technology is well thought out, and is geared solely towards helping improve your eCommerce business.
- Reduce bounce rates
- Increasing conversion rates
- Help with search to product relevancy
- Create a better user experience
- Improve your overall site navigation & performance
There don’t seem to be any gimmicks, locked purchasable features, or support lapses as far as this review is concerned and the help resources on their site (including a knowledge base) are responsive and helpful.
Their interface is simple, yet comprehensive and to the point. Considering how little control you probably had before, the administrative backend offers you an arsenal of tweaks that you won’t likely exhaust. When you do happen to think that you have finally mastered all of SearchSpring, consider that they dedicate 20% of revenue towards R&D. What does this mean? That you will receive frequent upgrades, updates, fixes, and new product features and all for free .
To Close, search optimization and site navigation restructuring are ALL SearchSpring does; they are experts in this domain. While the front-facing technology (rich search, autocomplete, and dynamic content) are replicable through other, single function solutions, the benefits of tackling site search optimization as a service rather than an infrastructure overhaul eliminates headaches, costs, and time wasted.
Not to mention the increased revenue.
If you are serious about your eCommerce business, you should invest the time and learn more about a solution like SearchSpring.
See SearchSpring's Profile in our Marketplace for more features, integrations, and information.
Note: I was given the same demo and introduction to the software as any prospective client. My review is based on observable, live demoed features, publicly available information, and my own Q&A with their sales representatives.
Feel free to comment on your experience with SearchSpring in the section below and be sure to view the Interview Tab for answers to common questions on SearchSpring.
Questions or comments related to the content of this review should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.