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Great site search/Information finding example


Active Member
Not sure if this is the best place to post this but most site search functions are TBH crap and always leave you wanting more IMO, Amazon great example if you miss spell what you are looking for.

A proper site search should IMO take you longer to design than the entire site it self due to it being a serious flash point for site visitors leaving your site because they don't think you offer a product or the information just because they typed in something wrong or your site search function is too basic and doesn't take into account relevance and about 100 other factors, this can seriously effect your bounce and conversion rates and can take you longer than learning to code to learn about how to do it properly.

So much so that if you don't offer a search function there is a statistically a much higher chance that the user will stay longer on your site from following categories and find the information manually and there is some good reasons not to offer one even on huge sites as a result.

So very rarely am I impressed when I use one.

But for what I think is a great coded one, even better than mine that I spent days on, check out ~
Buy High Quality Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements Online | Holland & Barrett - the UK's Leading Health Retailer

Type into the search box Digestive enzymes.
What you get is the digestive aids page, not the same thing and if you coded your site search to look for digestive enzymes it would not come up with digestive aids and then link the category bread crumbs in as well as to a computer programmer that is 2 completely different terms as different as Apple and Zebra.

Again type in Memory and it brings up Ginkgo Biloba products which is again amazing for the term searched for.

Possible done via tags so for example you assign tags to categories and then when they are searched, look up the tags and if it is present link into the category, but that would take a lot of time to get right, miss one and it would impact on sales as in a site that offers great search function returns a zero match you would assume that they didn't offer it, less well done sites you would muggle through if you knew it had several variations. For a site as big as H&B and the amount of tags needed that would be time consuming but probably how it is done, unless anyone else has any other ideas.

Anyway I know it seems basic but I can tell you the coding behind it is probably pretty good.

For example coq10, q10, CoEnzyme Q10 and CoEnzymeQ10 all bring you to the right category which is a really great example, so many sites you have to go through the variations to see which one they have it under, chose wrong and you may think they don't have it when it's in fact under a different term, the fact it flags up all 4 variations to the same page is just amazingly well coded again tags would be the best approach, maybe for term variations like that but that would require each word being seriously thought about before hand.

Anyway well impressed and I have taken some things from it from when I'm next coding a site search function. It's not often that I am seriously impressed with a sites function but this is just amazing from the terms I've used so far, kept me on the site much more than any other health sites I go to, about 2 a month, so thought I would share for others to take ideas from.

One well impressed.
Jaz :)


Senior Member
Seconded, apologies was going to reply but forgot. :) not wasted at all, especially bringing to light that the bounce rate is highly affected by the searching ability.

Though I feel amazons search was a revelation of more intelligent searching with not having to choose whether you were searching for the author / title / etc. of the books, and then expanding this to their whole range (since that has expanded). I also imagine as their range is larger and ever changing it is more difficult to keep the searches as great. But I suppose that isn't an excuse


Active Member
Amazon, even for a big site sucks.
Check out this first term that I miss spelt on purpose. Just danse.
Amazon.co.uk: just danse

Now it brings it up as a possible misspelling but doesn't bring the misspelling results in. The results you get in that list, if I was looking for just dance the Wii game are like what????

Even if I wasn't what do any of them have to do with Just danse? I can't see any relevance to the term even though it is miss spelt.

Click the did you mean link and the game is the first result.

What should happen is they offer both results combined.
So for example it should say.
We have included results for Just Dance (Wii), would you like us to remove these?

Then when you click on remove these, ideally via Ajax the Just Dance (Wii) results get removed from the lists, if you click on the Just dance (Wii) it takes you to the product.

That way the user doesn't have to do any work to get to the clear miss spelling. That said many miss spelling return no results on Amazon. Apart from 3 randomly chosen ones. On a site the size of Amazon that should never happen.

What gets searched for every week should be recorded and then IMO a specialized team dedicated to it knowing what to look for should then evaluate the miss spellings and the entire search system should be constantly improved based on the search logs.

I guarantee even for a site the size of Amazon, that would be a huge list, but if 15,000 users all miss spell a certain item's name, brand, variation, within a week or so of it being heavily advertised, making the search system return the right result, even for Amazon would generate huge profits or remove problems for other users.