Catch Rick Madigan, UNRVLD Digital Strategist, discussing the Future of Site Search and Gen AI alongside our partners at Sitecore on-demand now. Or read insights from the webinar below.
Challenges facing enterprise organisations in site search
- "Search as a sticking plaster": If businesses construct their digital experiences from an organisation-centric view, i.e. what do I want to tell the user, it can lead to a user experience that is difficult to navigate. Often in these cases, search is added as an afterthought to try and correct the problem. That’s why organisations must adopt a customer-centric approach from the start.
- User expectations: Users are accustomed to the seamless and intuitive search experience provided by major commercial search engines like Google. Meeting these high expectations can be challenging for enterprise search engines, which require meticulous metadata and machine learning across millions of users to come close to the experience that people are accustomed to.
- Keeping up with search: Your audience is always evolving and staying ahead of changes in user behaviour is crucial. You can’t just implement search and forget it. Organisations must continuously analyse search data to understand what users are looking for and adapt to their needs. This involves maintaining search standards, managing crawl schedules, ensuring security, and troubleshooting issues.
Non-negotiables for website search experience
- User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI): A user-friendly website is a must. Most people recognise and know how to find and use search, so we need to make sure the basics are right. Ensure that the search bar is mobile-first, easily visible, consistently located, there is microcopy for instructions and offer users ample space for input.
- User-centric search: People search based on what makes sense to them. We need to do the hard work to get them the results they anticipate. That means leaving the search term in the box so people can find it, typo-tolerance, auto-suggestions and recommendations, facets and filtering, natural language processing (stemming, compound words, synonyms, polysemy) and making all relevant content searchable (not just pages but documents too).
- Analytics: Understand how people are using your search - the behaviour and the queries. This is crucial information to not only refine the search but to refine your wider experience.
Selecting the right site search solution for your enterprise organisation
By addressing these core questions, you can narrow down your selection and find the right site search tool for your enterprise:
- Cross-channel experience: Determine the channels through which users can interact with your organisation. If it's just web, it could be as simple as getting the search from a DXP or third party. If it’s more, we need to think grander. Your search will be presented differently in channels, but it should be consistent in how it works and behaves.
- Data sources: Assess what data sources you need to index. Whether it's a single website or multiple sites, product information management (PIM), or other data sources, understanding your indexing requirements is crucial.
- Customer needs: Understand the specific expectations and needs of your customers. While most searches have common features, there are nuances in how they work and how powerful they are that must be considered. Remember, technology is the enabler here.
Top 3 tips for enterprises implementing site search solutions
- Content architecture: Getting your information architecture right is crucial. Understand what your users want to know and design your structure, content and metadata around this.
- Scope: Understand the full scope of your search project, including the channels you need to cover and the data sources you must integrate.
- Measure and adapt: Continuously measure the successes and failures of your search solution and be ready to make improvements when needed.
Future trends in enterprise site search
- UI/Design: Content discovery is moving beyond a simple search bar with a focus on multiple channels (visual and voice), different ways of presenting search (e.g. full-screen takeovers, conversational interfaces) and more visual searches.
- Adapting to new behaviours: Enterprise searches will begin to adopt natural language queries like major search engines, plus linear search experiences for content drilldown.
- More than searching content: "No more zero results" will become the norm, with organisations beginning to utilise search analytics to understand what users are looking for and identifying missing content or metadata. Search data will feed into Customer Data Platforms (CDP) and / or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to provide additional context to enquiries and support personalisation by feeding into real-time profiling.
ChatGPT and generative AI: enhancing site search solutions
The integration of conversational AI and generative AI into site search is the next frontier. Some possibilities in the short to medium term include:
- Blurring lines between conversational AI and search: The little chatbot window has so many negative connotations because for a long time it was limited and frustrating to use. This tech now has a role to play in not just support but content discovery, lead generation, transactions (commerce) and account management. As search is reimagined to be more visual and its own immersive experience, this will support that.
- Spotting missing content and metadata: We’re beginning to see more use of generative AI to identify missing content and metadata and even suggest or create it. It can also be used to spot performing content and results to promote them.
- An extension of natural conversations: We’ll see site search offer more personalised and natural conversations with linear search experiences, follow-up questions, and dynamic, context-aware interactions.
The future of site search is promising, with enhanced user experiences, advanced AI integration, and seamless customer journeys already on the horizon. By addressing challenges, embracing non-negotiables, and staying ahead of emerging trends, enterprise organisations can elevate their site search solutions to deliver exceptional user experiences. Contact UNRVLD’s search experts today to find out how we can implement best-in-class site search solutions into your business.