As you will know if you have used Magento for more than a couple of weeks, Magento search is not great! It always seems to either return thousands of results (of mostly limited relevance) or none at all.
It does not do many of the things that customers regards as essential out of the box, like correct lousy spelling, search through articles as well as products – or read minds!
In our (not always so) humble opinion there are a series of steps that a retailer should take to improve search facilities on their websites and these can be summarized simply as:
- Learn how to get the most from Magento’s standard facilities
- Extend Magento’s facilities
- Use a third party search service
Steps for Search Improvement
1. Configure Magento correctly and manage search
A) DETERMINE WHICH ATTRIBUTES SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE SEARCH FUNCTIONALITY
( Catalog > Attributes > Manage Attributes)
Don’t just select every single attribute – less is more here – and ensure you select attributes with sensible content. Selecting the Long Description attribute is not much use – as there will be a load of words that have no relevance at all for search. Also remember the more attributes you select then the slower search will be.
B) SELECT THE RIGHT SEARCH TYPE FOR YOUR STORE
( Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Catalog Search > Search Type)
1. Like: this is the default search type for Magento. It takes each word in the input, and searches for it separately. For Example: If you search for “Blue Hat”, Magento will search for “blue” and get all the results, then it will get the search results for “Hat” word, the results will be like : ( Blue t-shirt , blue computer , yellow hat , green hat ). This is the “Max Results ” Option
2. FullText: search is more focused, it searches for the whole term. Example : If you search for “Blue Hat”, will get the search results for the two words together “Blue Hat” such as ( Large blue hat).
3. Combine (Fulltext + Like): It will list the results from the ways “Fulltext” and “Like”.
C) MANAGE SEARCH – WORK ON SYNONYMS TO MAGENTO SEARCH TERMS
(Catalog > Search Terms and click on ‘Add New Search Term’)
First of all you should be monitoring the search reports. In essence you are looking for search terms that are being used regularly that have no results being displayed. Once you have identified these terms you have two choices
• Add a synonym to ensure that the search is properly directed – the classic case for this is plurals – which should have the singular as the alternative search term
• Add a redirect to direct to a category, product or CMS page. For example if a customer is searching for “Dress” on your clothing store, redirect them to the Dress category.
2. Add extensions to improve search
Here are a few that we recommend:
• Sphinx Search Ultimate by Mirasvit. This is an excellent extension – which can add a wealth of UX and backend functionality.
• Advanced Search by adheadWorks ecommerce.
• If you a Magento Enterprise customer you can also install SOLR search, which certainly deals with a number of issues – but it does require maintenance and expertise.
3. Add a third party service
There are a range of great services out there that improve search. They also have a number of additional advantages.
• They take the processing burden of search computation out of Magento – so that it does not take up valuable capacity for Magento
• They can give you additional insight into your product catalogue
• They give you precise control over search algorithms
We would recommend that you look at the following services – all of which have good Magento integrations:
• SLI Systems
If search performance is disappointing don’t just dive in and install an expensive third party service, but instead invest some time in understanding Magento search and how, with just a little effort, you can radically improve it. If this does not work then step through our steps – you may end up with Nextopia or SLI systems, but at least then you will understand the value of these platforms!