Bing appears to be testing a “search within” website feature on their search engine results page that could have website owners up in arms. If you’re a typical e-commerce site you have spent much of your time perfecting merchandising algorithms to categorize products in a specific order and merchandised that experience with offers, call-to-actions, and other flags. Your site might also be using sophisticated recommendation engines that personalize the shopping experience based on customer behavior. If your merchandising efforts are not automated this means there is a team of merchandisers that are manually sorting products on the category list page, which is a very time consuming process and leaves very little time to optimize thousands of in-site search queries.
I often find that e-commerce sites favor merchandising over improving in-site search results even though in-site search results often have a higher conversion rate. Even the best retailers have less than optimal in-site search result pages as shown by an in-site search for green jackets.
So here is the crux of presenting a “search within” feature on Bing’s search engine results page. The user has just searched for their favorite shopping site and is likely to be at the top of the purchasing funnel. Bing now is challenging the user to haphazardly shift their mind into a bottom of the shopping funnel thinking and create a new specific search query. This methodology skips the awareness, consideration, and intent of a normal shopping funnel.
The result is that the user is now presented with an un-optimized in-site search results page that is not personalized and bypasses all the great merchandising that you worked so hard to present to the customer. Yes, even the most sophisticated recommendation engines are useless on the first internal search query.
Bing’s “search within” feature may also lead to higher bounce rates for your site and if Bing uses bounce rate to determine your site’s relevancy on the SERP your organic traffic may begin to suffer.
The lesson we can learn from Bing’s search within feature is that we have opportunity to improve our in-site search experience whether we wanted to or not.