July 1, 2011, 1:21 PM

Motorcycle Superstore’s site search drives up its conversion rates

The motorcycle gear retailer keeps a close watch on what consumers actually type.

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By paying close attention to what consumers are searching for on a retailer’s web site, e-commerce operators can boost conversion rates, says Jason Miller, chief technology officer and vice president of technology for online retailer Motorcycle Superstore.

The retailer of motorcycle gear digs into the terms shoppers are typing into the e-commerce site’s SLI Systems-powered search tool, hoping to discover the terms that consumers actually use when shopping instead of the phrases manufacturers provide or words the retailer thinks shoppers should be using. When the retailer discovers a trend—such as dozens of consumers searching for the same unexpected term—the retailer changes the wording on the site and also adjusts its bidding on certain keywords in its paid search marketing campaigns, Miller says.

The retailer also studies common site searches to help build landing pages. Take, for instance, a phrase such as “Shoei helmet,” which refers to products produced by a major helmet manufacturer. In the case of a Shoei helmet search, the customized results page features a central image that displays the Shoei logo, two helmets and a message promoting “Fast, free shipping.” Below that central image are other images featuring five styles of helmets, such as “full-face Shoei helmets,” “half-helmets” and “flip-up modular helmets.” And below that are links to enable a consumer looking for a helmet for a specific use, such as dirt bike motocross, to search by activity.

Motorcycle Superstore has created between 800 and 1,000 of such customized landing pages because the retailer has found that the conversion rates for customized pages are 4% to 5% higher than those on other results pages, says Miller. “The conversion rate goes up because the pages are so focused on what the consumer is searching for,” he says. “It enables the customer to get into the department pages quicker.” And the fewer clicks it takes a shopper to find what he’s looking for, the higher the conversion rate, he says.

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