Search pro­fes­sion­als and mar­keters typ­i­cally divide search into three cat­e­gor­i­cal pil­lars: (1) SEM i.e. paid search, (2) SEO i.e. organic search, and (3) site search. Of these three pil­lars, SEO and SEM get the biggest bud­gets and most atten­tion. As for site search, mar­keters often over­look it and fail to take full advan­tage of its sales and out­reach poten­tial. But those who skip out on site search are miss­ing an inex­pen­sive oppor­tu­nity to mar­ket prod­ucts to cus­tomers who are (a) already engaged in your com­pany and web­site and (b) likely close to the pur­chase point.

Why Use Site Search?

Unlike SEM, site search won’t cost you any­thing on a PPC (pay per click) basis. And unlike SEO, you won’t need a con­stant stream of con­tent and back­links to stay rel­e­vant on site search. Your site search con­sists of all the search that occurs on your web­site. You know the lit­tle search bar that’s in the top right cor­ner of most web­sites? That’s site search.

As I’ve outlined in red, Adobe uses a magnifying glass to represent site search.

As I’ve out­lined in red, Adobe uses a mag­ni­fy­ing glass to rep­re­sent site search.

In SEM and SEO you have a lim­ited amount of char­ac­ters to make your offer on the search engine results page (SERP). With site search you don’t have those same lim­its. Because site search is on your site, you get to decide how exten­sive or min­i­mal­is­tic to make your offers. Just because you have the space to write a 1000-word ad for your prod­uct in site search, doesn’t mean it’s the best idea though. Fol­low what works in your SEO and SEM cam­paigns and trans­late that to site search. You can also use site search as a means to test copy and other ad fea­tures like images and links. That way you can deter­mine what works best in site search.

Incor­po­rat­ing Site Search into Your Webpage

Con­sid­er­ing the low cost of site search and the high poten­tial ben­e­fits, there is no rea­son your web­site should not, at least, have a func­tional site search bar and results page. You have a few options for incor­po­rat­ing site search into your webpage.

If you have a capa­ble Web team, then you can build a site search tool directly into your source code. If you’d like to out­source this fea­ture, then there are many SaaS (soft­ware as a ser­vice) pro­grams that allow you to pay a fee to use site search on your web­page. This fee is min­i­mal com­pared to the poten­tial ben­e­fits of site search; so don’t worry about the upfront cost. Many search engines also offer the use of their search algo­rithms within the index of your web­site as site search options.

Tak­ing Advan­tage of Fea­tured Results

One of the great­est, and most often over­looked, aspects of site search is the fea­tured results option. Fea­tured results in site search are like spon­sored ads in SEM. They appear at the top of the page and stand out from the rest of the results. You also have an excel­lent oppor­tu­nity to add images, more con­tent, or site links with fea­tured results in site search.

The featured result for the term “photoshop” is visually distinguished from other results by including an Adobe Photoshop image and offer with site links.

The fea­tured result for the term “pho­to­shop” is visu­ally dis­tin­guished from other results by includ­ing an Adobe Pho­to­shop image and offer with site links.

Because you aren’t pay­ing per click or based off of some search engine’s rel­e­vancy score for fea­tured results, you can use fea­tured results in any way that suits you and your com­pany. Mod­ify your fea­tured results based on the most pop­u­lar key­words to make offers that cus­tomers may not have known about before. The fea­tured results box is an effec­tive place to give dis­counts and coupons because it is a spe­cial­ized search area.

Site search is a spe­cial­ized method of search. It involves cus­tomers who are pre­vi­ously involved and inter­ested in your site, and it is inex­pen­sive and easy to main­tain. If you allow your three pil­lars of search (SEM, SEO, and site) to inter­act, you will cre­ate effec­tive ads and offers that boost sales and view­er­ship. Use your best ads for all three pil­lars of search and test between the pil­lars to fig­ure out the best copy for mak­ing the most rel­e­vant offers.