With big trends like personalisation and AI-assisted automation continuing to gain momentum, utilising faceted search for your e-commerce site is a must. Not only does faceted search offer users a more effective means of finding the right product, it has also been proven to drive sales, improve user experience, and have a positive impact on your brand.
The following 6 best practices will help you get the most out of faceted search for your website.
1. Keep Your Options Relevant
This should go without saying, but it's worth emphasising. Keeping your facets, and the options within them, relevant to your products is crucial. For example, if you sell laptops, the facets should include brand, screen-size, price, processor and so on. The more relevant options you can offer your customers, the more easily they’ll be able to narrow their search and find and compare the products they're looking for.
2. Keep It User-friendly
With eye tracking research finding that users spend half of their time on your site looking at the facet section, designing your faceted search for maximum usability is a must. There are many different design choices to consider – should the price options be presented as checkboxes or sliders? Should your faceted search run vertically or horizontally across the page?
There’s no particular best practice for these design elements as it depends on the products you’re selling, but taking the user experience into consideration when designing your faceted search is critical to its success.
3. Grey-Out Irrelevant Options
Faceted search is meant to make searching easier for your customers, but irrelevant facets which lead to null search results can cause frustration. For example: if a user is searching for a high value product like a 4K Samsung TV, allowing them to choose a price range of £0-£50 will lead to a page yielding no results. This situation can be avoided by greying-out irrelevant options organically as the user selects various facets, keeping the search process effective and efficient.
4. Feature Customer Ratings as Facets
With 85% of people trusting online reviews as much as they’d trust a recommendation from a friend, allowing your customers to narrow their search via user ratings is a great way of ensuring they find quality products they’ll want to purchase. There are various ways of implementing this, the most effective being a 5-star rating system.
Of course, if your website has a lack of customer ratings or only sells a small number of products, this particular facet may not be relevant. However, as your business grows, utilising customer reviews as a way of faceting your search will not only prove useful to users but will also build trust in your products.
5. Utilise your User Data
When you first set out to design your site-search, you'll be making a number of educated guesses regarding what you think is best for your customers. Once your faceted search is actually up and running, you can then begin to tweak your design decisions based on user data you've collected.
If users are rarely clicking on a facet, for example, perhaps replacing it for a more useful option, or removing it altogether, will make more sense. Regularly refining your faceted search based on user data is best practice. After all, if your search is polished to the point where users can find exactly what they want in just a few clicks, they're going be that much more likely to go ahead and purchase.
6. Don’t Forget About SEO
Whilst faceted search can offer numerous benefits for your business and for your customers, if you’re not careful it can have a negative impact on your SEO ranking. This is because many businesses create their websites in such a way as to produce multiple URLs for each faceted search page. These duplicated pages compete with each other, reducing page rank.
In order to avoid this scenario, it is best practice to ensure that unique pages share just one URL by using canonical tags. Canonical tags will take care of telling search engines which pages are useful for customers and should be indexed and which pages are duplicates and should not be indexed. Having great faceted search on your website is all well and good, but if customers can’t find your site easily through search engines because the index has been flooded with duplicate pages, it will all be for nothing.
By saving customers time and providing them with more relevant search results, faceted search continues to prove itself to be an essential element of successful e-commerce sites. If you’re ready to take your e-commerce site to the next level with faceted search, why not start by downloading our free site-search and navigation design guide?