A Guide to Internal Search Metrics of Your Online Store

How are your customers using the search function on your website? Use these seven essential metrics to offer them a better shopping experience.

Jameela Ghann - Writer for Fast Simon
By Jameela Ghann
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Edited by Dragan Stevanovic
Oli Kashti - Writer and Fact-Checker for Fast Simon
Fact-check by Oli Kashti

Updated March 29, 2024.

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The search bar on your online store is more than just a tool for your customers. It’s also a source of valuable data. Whether you’re using Magento search or Bicommerce Search apps, analyzing your search function can provide important insights. We'll help you understand which internal search metrics to focus on and how they can benefit your business.

Meet the Expert

Jameela Ghann is a seasoned online store owner with over a decade of eCommerce experience. Apart from running Alora Boutique, she's also the marketing manager for Fera Product Reviews.

External vs. Internal Search Metrics

External metrics, tracked through tools like Google Search Console, reveal how users discover your site via external search engines. Internal search metrics examine user behavior within your website's search bar.

These metrics focus on:

  • Searches Per Visit: The number of searches users conduct during a visit.
  • Percentage of People Using Search: The portion of visitors who use the internal search functionality.

Internal metrics provide a deeper understanding of user intent, customer engagement, retention, and conversion. They help assess customer satisfaction and business outcomes, and can provide insights for your merchandising strategy.

Ultimately, internal search metrics play a pivotal role in:

Refining your site’s internal search functionality can enhance customer satisfaction and positively impact your bottom line.

Pro tip: Analyze the percentage of users who make a purchase following a search. This data offers insights into the efficiency of your site’s search experience.

» Discover the best practices for eCommerce site search.

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7 Key Internal Site Search Metrics

Different metrics measure how well your site’s search function works. They give useful information about user behavior and how your Shopify search tools perform. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these internal search metrics.

1. Search Exit Rate

This metric is the percentage of customers who leave your site after conducting a search without clicking on any results.

How to calculate: (Number of exits after a search / Total searches) * 100

It gives you an idea of how well your search results are meeting the needs of your customers. If you’re running an eCommerce site and your product pages and checkout page have an exit rate of 20-40%, you’re doing pretty well.

But if the exit rate is higher, it could mean that your store’s products might not be categorized well or they might not be what your customers are looking for.

2. Search Relevance

Internal search relevance measures how effectively your website connects user queries to relevant results. A good query-to-result score means that customers can find products quickly and easily, which improves merchandising metrics and leads to:

  • Better traffic
  • Higher CTR
  • Improved conversion
  • Increased sales and revenue

Benchmarks vary, but a balance between accuracy and recall is crucial for quality search results. To optimize this metric, you could:

  1. Use several sources when creating datasets, for better search quality.
  2. Improve on-page and off-page SEO, especially titles, tags, descriptions, meta descriptions, and hierarchy.
  3. Draw insight and apply conclusions from analyzing CTR, conversion rates, user behavior, and customer feedback.

» Want to grow your eCommerce business? Check out our best searchandising strategies.

3. Site Search Accuracy

Site search accuracy tells you how often your search actually hits the mark. It's a simple calculation of the proportion of relevant results among the total searches.

How to calculate: (Number of accurate search results / Total search times) * 100

That'll give you the percentage of bullseyes.

Search relevance and site search accuracy are related but not identical. Relevance shows how well your search understands what users want, while accuracy measures how often it delivers the goods.

High accuracy means fewer dead ends and lost customers. Users find what they need faster, leaving them happy and reducing your support team's workload.

4. Null Result Rate

Ever type a query in the search bar, only to be met with... nothing? That's the null rate in action. It's the percentage of searches that leave users staring at a blank page.

How to calculate: (Number of no results / Total search times) *100

The average null rate is 10 to 30%. Anything higher than that could indicate:

  • Missed opportunities for conversion
  • Chance to highlight new product offerings
  • Need to optimize SEO

5. Site Conversion Rate

This is one of the most important metrics since it shows the conversion rate of visitors via the search tool.

How to calculate: Site conversion rate = (Total Conversions from Search / Total Searches) x 100

Despite its power, the site conversion rate is often overlooked. However, it can be a valuable tool for bridging the gap between relevant keywords and product optimization.

Generally, a 2-4% overall conversion rate is considered good in eCommerce. For site conversion rate, expect to see numbers closer to 2-3%.

Lower rates can indicate problems with search relevancy or product presentation. If this is the case, reevaluate your search strategy. Optimize both the search function and product information for improvements in this critical metric.

» Here's how to craft the best product descriptions.

This metric is exactly what it sounds like: the percentage of visitors who actually use your website's search bar. It's not as telling as the metrics above, but this number does give a quick sense of whether search holds value for your site.

If the percentage of site visitors using the search function is low, you could be better off without a search bar.

» Learn why you should add visual discovery to your store.

7. Searches Per Visit

Searches per visit reveal how many searches users typically perform during a single visit.

Ideally, the number should be low, indicating users find what they need quickly and easily.

To optimize searches per visit, consider:

  • Choosing the right search provider
  • Understanding metrics like search relevance and accuracy
  • Analyzing customer behavior and search data
  • Improving search box visibility

Optimizing Search Functionality

Regularly monitoring these seven metrics allows businesses to refine their approach and optimize their site's search functionality. Collectively, the numbers above offer:

  • A comprehensive view of your internal search performance
  • Guidelines for improving user experience
  • Better product categorization
  • Improved overall search strategy
  • More advanced online merchandising solutions

Bonus: 5 Best Tools for Internal Search Metrics

Whether you're on a budget, looking for Shopify integration, or require advanced analytics, you can use tools to get the right information. Each of these top three tools provides different functionalities, so your business can find a suitable match to your specific needs.

Before choosing an app, make sure to read user reviews, like the one below. These offer valuable insights into how these tools have impacted other businesses.

a computer screen with a text description on it

How Internal Search Metrics Might Change in the Future

As technology advances, AI's benefits in eCommerce continue to expand. And internal search metrics are likely to evolve, too. Here's a glimpse into how these changes might unfold:

  • Evolution Beyond Traditional Metrics: Traditional measures like relevance and accuracy might fade as AI becomes more prominent. This includes advanced technologies like natural language processing and natural language search.
  • Integration of New Search Techniques: Emerging search techniques, such as vector search and hash search, are expected to play a major role. A hash in search is a unique code generated from information, like a condensed summary. This allows for faster searching by comparing codes instead of full data.
  • Built-In Accuracy in Search Tools: With the integration of AI into merchandising, search tools like AI visual discovery or AI predictive search will likely come to the forefront of search engines.
  • Cross-Site Recommendations: A potential future trend could involve cross-site recommendations. Smaller stores might showcase other stores' products, creating opportunities for personalized search recommendations and collaboration.
  • Shift from Traditional Keyword Searches: With AI-driven search tools, the use of traditional keyword searches might decline. The focus may shift to AI capabilities for a more intuitive search experience and even more opportunities for personalization.

Raising the Search Bar with Internal Metrics

Your online store should be flexible, adaptive, and value-driven. Optimizing eCommerce site search strategies is a cost-effective and efficient way to keep up-to-date with customer habits and relevant queries.

With proper AI search tools, store owners can get an even more fine-tuned, granulated understanding of customers' wants and needs. These can then be transformed into a more comprehensive service and better conversion rates.