Are You Getting the Most Out of On-Site Search?.


On-site search is nothing new to the digital world. It's something brands have been investing in for years, but that doesn't mean that everybody 'gets it'!

I've put together some helpful scenarios comparing online and offline experiences to help you get the importance of your on-site search tool. Customers wouldn't stand for inadequate assistance in a retail situation, so why should their digital experience be any different?

# 1 Presence

The exposure of your assistance search tool is essential.

Imagine walking into your local supermarket and not being able to find the integral ingredients to help you steal the show at this weekend's rendition of come dine with me. Already frustrated with your search, which has led you down three different aisles, you find yourself back where you started. With no end in sight, you turn to look for assistance only to find there isn't any... not a good experience!

I often come across websites where the on-site search is well-hidden from view or not clearly signposted. Data shows that consumers who use search are more likely to purchase than those who use standard navigation because they are shopping with intent. You need to make sure it's easy for your consumers to find what they're looking for. A strong presence can also encourage consumers to use the search, which can help shorten the time of their journey.

We ran a simple A/B test for one of our clients, changing the search positioning and making it more prominent. The proof was in the pudding, with the variant seeing a 33% increase in usage when compared to the control test.


#2 Performance

Most importantly you need your search to perform.

Now let's imagine you've found your shop assistant and can now request that show-stopping ingredient. It may only be balsamic glaze vinegar, but it presents a real sense of class to your dish (and helps to mask any bad cooking). However, your shop assistant returns with a multitude of products ranging from 'sea salt & balsamic vinegar' crips through to pickled eggs; hardly the key ingredient of your masterpiece! Instead of saving you time, the assistant has given you a whole host of vinegar-related products for you to sift through, only adding to your frustration.

But don't worry, the performance of your site's search tool needn't be like that unhelpful assistant, it can be optimised in lots of different ways. Fuzzy logic and predictive results can help return the most relevant and popular results based on your search entry. You can also configure your search to understand which part of the site consumers are searching from, and therefore which content items they are most likely looking for.

For example, if you're on the crisp aisle, being presented with a bag of 'sea salt & vinegar' flavoured would make sense. However, if you're on the aisle signposted 'oils and table sources', you'll have no doubt lost all faith in that assistant's ability to help you on your quest to be crowned as top host.

Ensuring your content is clearly indexed as part of your search tool's configuration cannot be emphasised enough. It's always frustrating being presented with 'Zero results for your search term were found', and this can leave you feeling like you're part of a Little Britain sketch.

#3 Timing

The timing of any prompts that encourage users to utilise your search tool need to be impeccable. There are lots of different types of shoppers, and they don't always shop in the same way every day. I'm sure many of us have experienced walking into a fashion store and finding themselves in the following scenario:

Shop assistant: "Need any help?"
Customer: "No, thanks… 'I'm just browsing?"

This may sound a little harsh, but I'm sure many can associate with this! You're there to have a look around and will ask if you need any support. The fact that they have imposed themselves on you without paying any attention to your behaviour or intent is just annoying.

Now it's not always this black and white online but an impromptu pop-up on a site asking if you need help finding something can be equally annoying – and starts your user journey in a confusing and frustrating manner where you have to close the pop-up.


Websites should be using data to build an understanding of each user's intent. They should be able to distinguish between when a user is browsing versus when they need help finding what they're looking for. In these instances, a simple 'need help finding what you're looking for' message will suffice; enabling the search tool to serve the right message at the right time.


The Sitecore solution

Understanding user journeys, setting up goals, and automated messages are an essential part of building a customer experience that converts.

Sitecore offers businesses the foundation for building customer profiles and understanding their on-site behaviour. This data allows you to appropriately engage shoppers with the right types of communication at the right time; reducing the friction and optimising the user experience and driving conversions to purchase.

Get in touch

Sagittarius has a wide range of experience in understanding how on-site search can improve the path to purchase and drive conversion, resulting in ROI! If you are looking to enhance your on-site search experience using data analysis and initial scoping through to UX and configuration; our team of experts can support your team to deliver the best experience for your customers, get in touch on 0208 070 7820 or email

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Ross Breen Thumbnail
Ross Breen
Account Manager
With a wealth of Account Management experience under his belt, Ross has lead the growth of many key clients over a number of years and has a broad understanding of the various digital marketing disciplines, working with brands in a number of industries including Travel, Retail, Finance and Insurance.
Ross Breen Thumbnail

Ross Breen

03 Oct 2019 - 5 minute read
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