How to Get the Best Out of Your Magento Online Store by Setting Up On Site Search

17 Aug 2016

In eCommerce, everything comes down to being found. Without perfectioning on site search, you will find yourself in midst of a situation that sounds rather bad – abandoned shopping carts, poor sales charts and infinite questions if what you are doing makes sense at all.

Giving your best when optimizing your online store is a must.

Search engines can be relentless in the world of online shopping, and if you maximized your efforts when optimizing your website, there is no reason why you shouldn’t dedicate the same amount of time optimizing search on your online store.

You are probably familiar with statistics backing the claim that on site search is highly relevant when it comes to increasing customer’s satisfaction and growing your sales.

Results of a research conducted by Econsultancy provided us with amazing data – “visitors using search contributed 13.8% of the revenues“.

Rather self explanatory – you need to provide great experience for users searching items on your store.

Search stores

There must have been a time when you have found yourself trying to figure out where to search for a product on online store.

It’s most probable that at that point, you simply knew what’s wrong and what needs to be changed and improved, even though you might not be a professional.

Now, with your own online store in hands, you know that you have to think of everything.

And you realize that site search definitely is one of the key elements that make your store.

Finding Waldo might seem as a fun pass time, but when it comes to your online business, you simply cannot risk similar situation.

Customers abandoning shopping carts only because your site search failed, could have a terrible impact on your conversion rates.

You also probably know by now what is it that you like visually, but you also know that everything is not about aesthetics when it comes to site search.

Primary aim has to be – deliver results. It has to help your customers easily find what they are looking for.

And it’s not important just for your customers.

It’s paramount for store owners as well.

Maybe you believe that with proper categories and products neatly displayed on your site, you don’t need to be bothered with additional fields and search boxes.

Maybe you think that it should be low on your priority list, and that you should focus more on different aspects of your online store.

But, this is where you might be in for a risk, and we strongly advise you to pay attention to search as it definitely has to be there – functional and delivering results at all times.

Different types of queries

Before you start, you need to run a research of your own.

You need to unwind and rethink your product and entire store, this time from an entirely different perspective.

Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and start searching!

Search terms

If your online store is powered by Magento, opening your dashboard will give you insight into what your customers search the most. It can be more than useful in terms of adjusting your on site search.

But not only that – having loads of customers searching for an item you haven’t thought of producing, can make you rethink you offer, give you ideas and enhance your business in so many ways.

Take a look:

List of popular search terms in Magento admin panel
It is more than convenient, as you will get an insight into, not only popular terms, but also the number of uses. Make sure you do not stop here when it comes to relevant data acquisition.

Instead, complement data obtained from Magento dashboard with those Google Analytics provided you with. That is the best way to come to understand what is it that your customers need and conclude what is it that they expect to see/find.

In case you are having trouble navigating through Google Analytics, don’t worry, it’s easy!

Simply log in, navigate to Behaviour and notice that on your left hand side menu you have item named Site Search.

Useful huh?

Google analytics

Once you have relevant data all sorted, get to work! Open your Magento dashboard and start setting up your site’s search.

You will find that Magento offers several settings that you need to take care of.

We decided to kick off with setting up…


If you took our advice and gathered all relevant search queries your customers have typed into search box, you already have something to work with.

And if you were pretty nitpicking about it, paying loads of attention to every single word, you might have concluded that users prefer using different words than the ones you have on your online store.

If so, you might be in for a trouble, since their search probably returned no results, and resulted in site or shopping cart abandonment, decreasing your conversion rates and reflecting negatively on your online business.

After all the last thing you wish, is to loose customers simply because they are used to different words to describe products.

Tote will always be a bag, right?

This is when you should be taking advantage of Magento’s option to set up synonyms for search queries. It is great and so easy to set up on top of it!

Of course, you can completely change product names if you wish, and secure a hundred percent match with queries users have performed on your site.

Or – stick to your guns, and still get the best out of the both worlds.

Here is how – open your online store’s dashboard and navigate to Catalog and choose Search Terms.

Now, notice orange Add New Term button – clicking will lead you to a new page where you can continue setting up your search terms.

Here is how it looks like:

How to set up synonyms for search terms in Magento

Start filling out General Information about your new search term and have in mind that:

  • Search Query field is where you should enter your new search term
  • Mark Store where your new search term will be visible
  • Synonym for field should contain your ‘old’ word – the one you are using synonym for
  • Redirect URL should contain link of your target page
  • Display in Suggested Terms field serves to determine whether you will offer more suggested terms when customers’ search returns no results. We suggest you set this to Yes.

Another great thing is that you can edit or delete them easily in any given moment. And not only that, you can use all those misspelled words and create redirect for those too, based on a pattern you have noticed on your online store.

All done!

Like or full text?

Like or Full text is a simple option that can easily solve one of the biggest mishaps when it comes to onsite search.

Is it cm or centimeter? Different users are used of typing differently. One thing they have in common though – they need to buy your product.

It would be a rather painstaking procedure to create synonyms for every term, but luckily, Magento offers easy, out of the box solution that you can set up on your own.

Simply go to System and choose Configuration. Here is what you will see:

How to set up catalog search in Magento

Now all you have to do is set minimum and maximum search query length. Next, move on to determining Search Type.

Select Like, Fulltext or Combine from the dropdown menu and have in mind that results will be shown, depending on what your choice is, like this:

  • Choosing Like will let users search based on individual keywords – that means that it will focus on results that are similar to the query user entered in a search box.
  • Choosing Fulltext means you decided to perform search and give results based on full text used in your customer’s query – that means that it will not give you a match unless the entire query is in the search box.
  • Third option is self-explanatory – like and fulltext – means that Magento will use both methods to produce search results.

Search attributes

In order to finish setting up your catalog and prepare it to deliver immaculate results for your customers, there is one more thing you need to set up in Magento admin panel.

This amazing feature will let you decide where will Magento search for results – and if you have the need to deliver results that are somewhere among product description, size or colour – you can easily do so by tweaking your attributes just a little bit.

Here is an example from one of TopShop’s product pages. We noticed the description stated that this striped dress “features D ring belt detail”, and decided to use this as our search query.

Search query on TOPSHOP
And here is what we got when we searched for this particular detail:

Search query

Setting up description to show as part of your search results is easy – description is an attribute that we have to set up to be visible if we wish to make it searchable.

Simply go to Catalog and choose Manage Attributes. From there, you have two options – bulk edit your attributes by filtering those that are already searchable, or editing one by one.

Screenshot above shows that different attributes have different settings – name is searchable attribute, while cost is not.

Attributes filtering
By simply clicking and opening drop down menu and choosing Yes will make it possible to list all searchable attributes.

Or…you can simply edit your attribute by clicking Edit button and (un)marking Use in Quick Search field. You will find it under Properties/Frontend settings.

Setting up attribute properties

And now it is only up to you and your store’s needs. Depending on all attributes you used for your product, decide which ones will be searchable on your online store.

Be careful and make sure you bring informative and data driven decisions. Have in mind your target market, its jargon, abbreviations and synonyms.

Take everything into account and set up search on your store that can help your business truly blossom.

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