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Understanding Search Analytics

July 17, 2017

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Search Analytics

SaaS services have helped raise the bar for what we enjoy and now expect from the apps and sites we use every day. By leveraging specialized, managed services, delivering world-class experiences is easier than ever. Moreover, these SaaS services’ innovations enable features and functionality that were otherwise inaccessible to all but the behemoths such as Google and Amazon.

One such feature businesses can now take advantage of is Search Analytics, specifically on-site search analytics. Not to be mistaken for search engine analytics that track aggregate search activity on search engines such as Google, search analytics, in this case, refers to the analysis of search behavior on your own site.

At SearchIQ, our search analytics service empowers our customers with real-time access to a treasure-trove of insights.

“The potential value behind the queries issued by your customers is in practice unbounded. So do not waste this potential— use the knowledge behind these queries.”
Ricardo Baeza-Yates, VP of Yahoo! Research

With our search analytics platform, we stay true to our mission of making advanced technology easy to use. We designed our search analytics platform to be both intuitive and powerful so that our customers have easy access to actionable information. To help illustrate just how search analytics can improve your business we can look at a few examples.

Product Planning
A suit manufacturer can predict trends in colors by analyzing search requests irrespective of what the current store offers. Unsurprisingly, blue is a popular color. Dig a little deeper, and it is clear that lighter colors including lighter shades of blue are more sought after than Black or Navy; the latter not even being amongst the top 5 search terms.

Successful forecasting of product characteristics like color can easily lead to numerous benefits. This includes efficiently meeting demand, maximizing profits, reduction of overages and the subsequent need for inventory liquidation that can hurt the brand.

Search Optimization
Even with insight into your customers’ wants and intentions, it can be difficult to predict exactly how users will search for your products and services.

Footsmart.com was able to improve their conversion rate for site searches by 82%, by enacting a weekly monitoring campaign of underperforming search terms and adjusting the results accordingly.

There are many complementary techniques to optimize your results at your disposal. 

  • By reviewing search queries that did not lead to results you can tailor the descriptions and tags of substitute products and services to include their keywords used in the failed searches.
  • With tools like synonym mapping (available with SearchIQ), you can map terms such as “slate” to results with similar colors such as “gray” and “azure”.
  • If you find that users are using multiple keywords to search your products and services, a broad match filter can be a better option over phrase matching.

UX Optimization
Search analytics can identify both problems and opportunities in the UX, including your content and navigation strategy. In reviewing the top search results, you can better understand what users had to search for, ergo, what wasn’t easily accessible in your site’s navigation or content presentation.

Simply featuring your site’s most sought-after content on the homepage can lead to a dramatic increase in conversions. Moreover, it is considered best practice to actually showcase what lies beyond the homepage.

The discovery of category or other high-level pages in search results is an indicator that your site’s navigation is either poorly structured or categorized. As a general rule, search is best used for helping users quickly and easily finding specific pages and should not be a replacement for good navigation. Fortunately, SearchIQ can provide the data needed to inform your UX optimization decisions.

In summary, Search Analytics is an often under-utilized, yet highly valuable resource that captures and exposes your users intent, can drive product and service planning, help hone your product merchandising and enable data-driven UX improvements.

SearchIQ includes its analytics suite with all accounts, making the power of on-site search analytics and the business intelligence it provides access to stakeholders across your organization.

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The Transition from GSS to SearchIQ – What You Should Know? And What to Look Forward to?

July 5, 2017

It’s official; Google is discontinuing Google Site Search. It seems everywhere we look we can’t help but see GSS (Google Site Search) or CSE (Custom Search Engine) being written about in different posts and articles. It can all be quite confusing if you use either of these products. So we decided to shed some light on what this means, what you should be looking for in an alternative and how to get new search up and running properly.

Let’s start off by explaining the difference between the two. GSS is a paid product to implement Google’s search technology on your website, while CSE or Custom Search Engine is a free, ad-supported site search engine.

According to the statement given by Google spokesperson to ‘Search Engine Land’, “We are winding down the Google Site Search product over the next year, but will provide customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements. For GSS users whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th, 2017, we are providing a free 3-month extension with additional query volume to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site. GSS customers may also take advantage of our Custom Search Engine solution, an ads-supported model that offers similar functionality.”

And although everything seems great because Google is directing existing customers to use their free custom search engine as a replacement, unfortunately using CSE will force the websites to show ads along with their search results.

Is Google custom search a good alternative to GSS?

How does Google custom search impact your website’s search experience? How does it affect the overall user experience? As you know, Google CSE is an ad-based site search engine which means that your website will be exposed to ads that you may not want. A user performing a search on your site is looking for something specific and displaying ads along with search results could disappoint or confuse the user, driving them to leave your site.

To go even further, worst case scenario could be your website displaying ads from competitors, leaving you at the mercy of their paid advertising. When and if the user clicks on an ad, they will be redirected to your competitor’s website and you will lose a potential customer. Apart from the ads, CSE has a daily capping limit for search queries. This means that if your website has high search volume, it will stop working once you’ve reached the limit. Another point to consider with Google custom search is that there isn’t any email or phone support. If you have a question or query, you pretty much have to figure it out on your own.

Good site search is designed to help visitors find the desired content or products they’re looking for, and not to distract users making the search complicated. The relevant search results (advertisement free) enhance user engagement on your website and drive more conversions. An effective site search has a business goal to generate more revenue, more traffic, or longer visit times. So compromising the user experience by displaying ads could completely alter your business strategy.

Considering the details mentioned above, migrating to CSE may not be an ideal solution for your website.

Why SearchIQ should be your next search solution?

SearchIQ is a unique and modern search engine technology that offers enhanced search capabilities and gives your visitors the best user experience. It is the most advanced and robust alternative for Google site search. We at SearchIQ understand that your users rely on search and we get that search is crucial to drive business and increase viewership, that’s why we designed our powerful algorithm to return fast and accurate search results quickly. We also help you manage content more effectively with real-time analytics. Via our dashboard of analytics you can see what is most searched (that you may or may not provide results for) allowing you to create content based on what people want.

We also cater to whichever development platform you are using, choose between our WordPress and JavaScript versions. Moreover, SearchIQ offers both free and paid functionality based on your business requirements. And when it comes to ease of use and installation, with SearchIQ you don’t have to worry about hardware setup or maintenance. We take care of all technical stuff for you. All you need to have is a search domain and index data. And if you choose to customize the search parameters and appearance, you can do so!

As a site admin, you must be curious how SearchIQ is different from other SaaS search solutions? Let’s look at the features to understand the difference and benefits to using SearchIQ.

Simplicity

You can easily configure and manage your domain through the SearchIQ dashboard, just a few clicks and your search engine is ready. Easily create an account to add your domain and index your website. In our resources section we provide step-by-step instructions on how to implement any feature or assistance with customization.

Customizable

SearchIQ features various customization options to match your website’s theme and look. Apart from the general options, you can further change the feel of your website using our ‘Custom CSS’ option.

Scalable

SearchIQ’s architecture is robust and completely scalable, so you don’t have to worry if any of your domains experience more traffic than usual. As your data or query volume observes a spike or surge, SearchIQ will scale your domain’s resources up or down as needed.

Pricing

SearchIQ is much more cost-effective compared to other SaaS solutions. If your website meets the criteria for number of posts, pages or products SearchIQ is totally free. If the number goes beyond what’s allowed on the free version (10k documents and 50k searches per month) you will need to upgrade to the plus version. Moreover, SearchIQ Plus is also at competitive pricing and provides unlimited indexing and searches.

Other Search Features:

  • Phrase matching
  • Autocomplete suggestions with toggle image option
  • Synonym aliasing capability
  • Weights assignment on title, content, category, tag and author
  • Real-time indexing
  • Real-time analytics
  • Cross-site functionality to link your sites together
  • Search results sorting by relevance, newest and oldest
  • Deep search functionality to search custom fields and custom post types (great for ecommerce sites or recipe sites)

Want to learn more about SearchIQ and its functionality? Check out our demo site here.

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Top 10 WordPress Themes with great built-in Search Functionality

June 5, 2017

Website search functionality has been observed to be trending up rapidly over the last few years. Site search has a critical importance in regards to user experience and customer engagement. Internet users have become so dependable on search, that it will be almost unreasonable to forget including search functionality on your website. Several site visitors hit the search bar first without even navigating the menu.

Adding an efficient onsite search box not only engages visitor and decrease bounce rate but benefits administrator in terms of conversion and analytics. The analysis of user data helps in understanding user behavior and needs, and eventually leads to an increase in conversion.

Realizing the effectiveness, wordpress developers have been integrating site search option to add value to the themes. Here are the top 10 wordpress themes with remarkable site search built-in functionality.
Business Directory

WordPress Theme: Business Directory

The Business Directory WordpPress theme is created by Templatic with elegant design to give your site visitors best user experience. The theme helps to create, manage and monetize a directory site for any businesses such as Car, Hotels, Restaurants, Properties, Travel Destinations and many more.

There are several built-in features that make it the most powerful Directory theme including Bulk data Import/Export, Add and manage classified, Additional custom fields, Google maps, Add/Manage users, Listing rating and review, User dashboard, Email notifications, Color customizer, Fonts and Integrated PayPal payment gateway. The search engine is quite impressive and displays Autocomplete results with toggle image option.

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15 Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

May 14, 2017

WordPress is one of the most popular and widespread CMS platforms, but it can be quite slow unless optimized properly. And having a fast website is important because page load speed decides if the visitor will hang around or move onto another site. So your website needs to be fast. Fast loading pages increase your page views, improve user experience and help with SEO.

No one want to wait around for a website to load. According to Kissmetrics, “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load”. A one second delay may disappoint visitors and cause them to leave your site even before it’s gotten a chance to load properly. Even Google’s search algorithm factors site speed to rank websites, so if your site is slow, your Google ranking will fall and you may experience less traffic.

What can you do to make your site faster? In this article, we will share some simple ways to help speed up your website and improve your site’s performance.

Choose a Fast Web Host

Choosing a good web host is one of the most important decisions when you are concerned about speed and performance. Hosting companies have a lot to offer from shared hosting to VPS or dedicated managed hosting, depending on your website’s requirements. Simply going for the cheapest offering, although it may be a good bargain, may come at a cost. You may experience slow site speed and frequent downtime. Shared hosting might be the least expensive option but make sure to think about server resources, you are sharing with hundreds of customers impacting the entire server performance. To invest in a good web host, choose a hosting provider with a good reputation and a server located near the geographic region of your target audience.

Use a Simple and Clean Theme

When selecting a theme for your WordPress website, it’s better to give attention to speed optimization and go with a simpler theme. Don’t choose a theme with tons of features, that you may not need. Instead consider themes with basic functionality and use quality plugins to add features, as you need them. A poorly coded theme can be attractive and eye catching but can slow down your site.

Keep WordPress Updated

WordPress is a fast changing environment, with new updates and features being released frequently in order to keep up with trends and the needs of their users. Each new update not only offers new features but also comes with several performance improvements that make WordPress faster, more reliable and more efficient.

Not updating your WordPress version may cause a slow website and may make your site vulnerable to security threats. So follow best practices to constantly update to new versions as they are released.

Compress Images

Images add value to your content and boost user engagement. Visuals, although they enhance your site, consume bandwidth if not compressed properly. Optimizing and compressing your images should be a high priority task. In original formats, photos can be large file sizes and take long to load, and may slow down your site.

Before uploading any image on your site, reduce the size of the image using lossless compression, so you don’t compromise the image quality. Fortunately, WordPress has some great plugins to optimize images. The most popular one is WPSmush, which removes unused colors from images and drastically reduces the size of your images automatically.

Minify HTML, CSS and JavaScript Files

Minifying your CSS and JavaScript means minimize the number of HTML, CSS and JavaScript files on your website, and removing unnecessary characters from these files that are not needed – White space characters, new line characters, comments, block delimiters. These characters and comments are used to make code more readable for humans, but you need to clean the unnecessary lines, spacing and formatting so servers can read them quickly.

Rather than reducing the amount of code manually, WordPress plugins like WP Super Minify and AssetsMinify handle this process at runtime with an automated approach. These plugins minify your site’s CSS and JavaScript files, thereby improving the speed for browsers to retrieve the files.

Gzip Compression

Gzip is the most popular and effective form of compression to speed up your site. Gzip compresses your website content like web pages, CSS, and JavaScript therefore increasing the website’s loading speed significantly. According to the statistics, Gzip compression saves 50%-80% bandwidth by compressing files on the server before sending them to the browser.And when a visitor gets to your site, files are then unzipped by their web browser.

In order to Gzip your website components you need to log in to cPanel and go to Software and Services > Optimize Website. Here, select ‘Compress All Content’ and click update settings to compress the website content.

Install an Effective Caching Plugin

Caching is another important factor to speed up your WordPress website. Caching temporarily stores the content such as pages, posts, images and other files on your visitor’s local drive. So when requested by the same visitor, the pages are rendered much faster. The content needs to be loaded only once instead of every time the user revisits your site. Caching reduces page load time, thereby increasing the visitor time on site.

WordPress has several popular caching plugins, like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. These two tend to be the most popular choices. They improve the overall site performance when fully configured and can reduce the page load time from 2.4 seconds to 0.9 seconds, according to this case study by YUI Team.

Implement a Content Delivery Network

Regardless of your website installation and traffic you improve your website by implementing a CDN or Content Delivery Network. A CDN takes all the static files (CSS, JavaScript, Images, Media) on your site and delivers them on a server closer to your visitor’s geographic location. This decreases the download time.

Using a CDN for your website can reduce the bandwidth consumption by 55%, improving the page load speed, visitor’s experience, duration of time on your site, conversion and SEO. Key CDN and Max CDN are the most popular CDN’s for your WordPress website.

Implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

What is AMP? Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP is an open-source framework to increase the loading speed of your mobile web pages. It loads your pages quicker on mobile devices, which increases the traffic and CTR. Google claimed that AMP cut down load times between 15% and 85% in initial tests.

Moreover, implementing AMP can possibly offer SEO benefits. Several webmasters and marketers have observed that AMP has a huge impact on boosting your mobile search engine ranking.

Optimize Your WordPress Database

Optimizing your WordPress database is fairly a simple thing but has a big impact on your website speed. WordPress saves a lot of information in the database tables, and over time, the database can become fragmented. You need to clean and optimize your database by deleting the information that you probably don’t need like trashed items, unwanted revisions, unused tags, trackbacks, pingbacks, unapproved or spammed comments.

You can use WP-Optimize plugin to delete this unnecessary information and clean your database, ensuring smooth running of your WordPress website. Another recommended plugin to optimize your database is WP-DB Manager which allows the scheduling of regular database optimization.

Lazy Load Images and Videos

If you have a lot of images and videos on your site, lazy loading is another concept that you might want to implement. Lazy loading delays the loading of objects and shows images only when a user scrolls down the page to see them. This not only speeds up your page load time, but also saves bandwidth by loading the data after user starts scrolling your page.

To lazy load images, WordPress has a few different plugins like BJ Lazy Load and Rocket Lazy Load. The best plugin to lazy load your videos is Lazy Load for Videos.

Disable Video Auto Play on Homepage

Auto playing video on your website’s homepage is an increasing trend but unfortunately, it consumes more bandwidth and delays loading the core elements of your page.

Waiting a long time for a page to load is incredibly annoying, leads to frustration and dissatisfied visitors, which in turn increases your website’s bounce rate. So, it’s highly recommended to disable the video auto play on your site’s homepage or your landing page.

Avoid using too many Plugins

Another common reason for a slow WordPress site is having too many plugins installed. Limiting the number of plugins is crucial when it comes to site speed.

Besides, what is the point of installing plugins you don’t really need? The best approach is to analyze all the plugins and their impact on your website. Then keep the ones that are critical to run your website and delete the plugins that you don’t need or have a negative impact on your site.

Enable Hotlink Protection

What is Hotlinking? Hotlinking is when another site displays an image on their website by directly linking to it from your website. This means when someone visits their site, they are serving images from your site, taking up your bandwidth. The request to fetch the image will go to your server, so hotlinking will consume your resources and will create additional work for your server.

Blocking such links is the solution to avoid being a victim of bandwidth theft. You can disable hotlinking by simply adding the following code to your .htaccess file and updating your domain name.

Regenerate Thumbnails

Whenever you switch your site theme or install a new plugin it’s worth it to regenerate your thumbnails. Most themes use different thumbnail sizes; so if your previous thumbnails for images aren’t optimized they will take up more bandwidth. You can fix this with a WordPress plugin called Regenerate Thumbnails.

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First Fridays – Plugin Edition

April 7, 2017

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 2.17.38 PM

This plugin says what it does in it’s name, “The Instagram Feed Pro”. We think this is the best plugin to display your Instagram feed on your WordPress site.

February 2017 – The Instagram Feed Pro

It’s super easy to setup and to customize the look of the feed to integrate nicely with your current site design. You can add a nice header to your feed and it will add a “follow on Instagram” button so you can increase engagement and increase your number of followers. It’s also responsive which is great for anyone visiting your site on their mobile phone or tablet.

If you are looking to add a special personal touch to your website, we would recommend trying The Instagram Feed Pro. It’s great!

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