May 27, 2005, 12:00 AM

Improved site search boosts sales at

An underperforming site search function on returned zero results in as many as 50% of searches. A plug-in site search application for small business from Google shrinks that to 10% and helps boost sales by 15%.


When a contractor would hit the Buy button for a CST/Berger rotary laser on, owner Andrew Brown got a sale of more than $1,000 – but not if the buyer typed in lazer instead of laser. Because of misspellings, the inability to recognize search term synonyms and other glitches, as many as 50% of site searches on returned no results, even though most were for products Toolfetch sells. But that figure has dropped to 10% in the past month since Toolfetch implemented the Google Mini, a plug-in site search application from Google that targets small business, Brown reports.

“We were losing sales,” says Brown of Toolfetch’s previous site search function, an open source-developed application bundled into the site`s original platform. “People were leaving, figuring that if they couldn’t find something in search, we didn’t have it.”

About 40% of searches that returned no results were due to misspellings the former site search couldn’t reconcile; searches that return no results due to misspellings have been entirely eliminated, Brown says. The Google Mini application also has a feature that Toolfetch has set to capture synonyms to further boost search relevancy.

Another feature offers merchandising capacity with the ability to direct searches off selected search terms directly to selected product pages. Reports generated by Google on the search application’s use have pointed the way toward which products Toolfetch should promote, Brown adds.

Brown adds that so many of his customers use Google web search that his site benefits from have site search that looks and feels similar. “A lot of people use Google to search the web, and they want a site search to work like that. This allows the customer to search just like a Google search within our site,” he says.

The number of searches on is up 30% since the new search application was added, and sales are up 15%, Brown says. At a cost of about $3,000 versus search solutions he researched that reached into the tens of thousands at some dedicated site search technology providers, “The Google Mini paid for itself,” he adds.


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