The search tool on your storefront is a great way for customers to find exactly what they're looking for. When you're setting up your search feature, you should understand the functionality of the tool to make sure it's being used to its full potential.

Volusion automatically indexes your site when you create products from the Admin Area. Search results can be sorted by price, title, and more, making it easy for your customers to find exactly the right item.

As a store owner, you can harvest this valuable information to see what visitors to your site are looking for and what they think they should be able to find. The Search Terms table, available in your Admin Area under Reports > Search Terms, records and lists every term entered into the Search field on your storefront.

Indexing

When you set up a product, you enter text into certain fields that the software indexes to be used in searches. The software indexes Product Code and Product Name, and, if entered, Additional Product Keywords, Product Manufacturer, and Product Description.

When these fields are indexed, the characters they contain are split on word boundaries to break them down into separate words. The word boundaries are:

new line , space, comma [,], forward slash[/] , colon [:], apostrophe[‘], left parenthesis [(], right parenthesis [)], quote [“], semi colon[;], period[.] and exclamation mark[!]

These boundary characters are then removed.

The resultant words are then truncated by removing the following word endings to allow for multiple endings (plurals, etc):

-ing, -ies, -iez, -es, -ez, -y, -s, -z, -e

Note: "s" is not removed when the ending of the word is "ss". Thus, a word like "chess" will not become "ches."

For example:

Smithers' Shaving Soap (Non-Messy)

Removing the word boundaries, we have:

Smithers|Shaving|Soap|Non-Messy

Then, removing the word ending, we get the index words:

"Smither", "Shav”, "Soap", "Non-Mess"

Searching

By default, all searches look for index words found in the Product Code and Product Name that match or contain the search term. For example, if you search for "Smith", a search might return product names like "Smith", "Smithers", "Goldsmith" or "Asmithus".  

If you want the search to return results only where Product Code or Product Name must match or begin with the search term, turn off Enable Partial Word Searches (it is on by default; see "Config Variables" below). For example, if you search for "Smith" and Enable Partial Word Searches is off, search might return product manufacturers like "Smith" and "Smithers," but not "Goldsmith" or "Asmithus".

In addition it searches Additional Product Keywords and Product Manufacturers for words that match or begin with the search term entered.

If you want the search to include words found in Product Description you need to turn the Enable Searches in Descriptive Fields variable on (it is off by default; see "Config Variables" below).

Note that only the first 8,000 characters in the Product Description field are indexed.

Additional Product Keyword Indexing

Whenever you enter Additional Product Keywords in the Advanced Info > Misc section of a product's details page, you should rebuild your site's search index to ensure that these terms are immediately searchable. This is particularly important if you update keywords for several records in one admin session, or if you add keywords to your products via import.

To rebuild the search index, go to Settings > Maintenance in your Admin Area and click Rebuild next to Search Index.

The Search Terms Table

This table records each unique term entered into your storefront's Search field, the total number of times that term has been used, and the most recent date that term was searched for.

Search terms provide insight into what visitors are looking for and can be extremely useful in helping you configure product keywords and descriptions so you can market specifically to these terms and products.

Search Terms

Only the first four words entered in the search box are used. This means that if someone enters:

"horizontal striped soft wool socks"

The search will only be performed using "horizontal striped soft wool."

If the relevant terms in a search are not in the first 4 words, the search results may not be helpful. Research has shown, however, that only one in two thousand customer queries on our merchant databases was more than 4 words long.

Note that single character search terms are considered incomplete and will be ignored by the system. For example, if someone enters:

"Amazing Race season 3"

The search will only be performed using "Amazing Race season".

Removing Search Terms

Since the Search Terms table records every word and/or phrase entered into the Search field, it will occasionally contain erroneous words or phrases. These are often placed randomly by automated web scripts or “bots.”

With the Bulk Update tool, you can quickly prune the Search Terms table and remove any unwanted content.

  1. Click the three-dot actions menu and select Bulk Updates.
  2. In the Set menu, select SearchTerm.
  3. In the Where menu, also select SearchTerm. 
  4. Below the "=" sign, select either Equals or Contains from the menu.
  5. In the field to the right of that menu, enter the word of phrase to be removed from the Search Terms table. If you select Equals, enter the exact term to be removed from the table. If you select Contains, enter a word or phrase common to all entries to be removed from the table
  6. Click Apply Changes.

How Search Results Are Sorted

Search results are returned according to the sort order set in Design > Product Display Settings > Search Results.

If the sort order is not set, the results are be sorted by relevancy. This is based on the field in which the search term was found. If it is found in multiple fields, they will be added together.

In descending order of relevancy, the fields are:

  • Product Code
  • Product Name
  • Product Manufacturer
  • Additional Product Keywords
  • Product Description
  • Product Code (Contains Only)
  • Product Name (Contains Only)

If the Enable Partial Word Searches check box is selected, then partial word matches for the Product Code and Product Name fields will also be returned. These partial matches (meaning it only matches Contains, and not Begins With) have lower relevancy.

For example: A search for "ball" matches "baseball" in Product Name. Since "baseball" contains "ball", but does not begin with it, it is a Contains Only match and would be displayed below "ball" or “balloon".

Config Variables

Search Config variables are found at the end of Settings > Config Variables.

Note: If you make any changes to these Config Variables, you should rebuild the search index afterward in Settings > Maintenance for them to take effect.

Turn Searches Into SEO

Now that you know exactly what your customers are looking for, you can improve your products’ visibility by including popular search terms in your product descriptions. The Search Engine Optimization tab under each product’s Advanced Info section lets you configure Meta Tag Titles, Descriptions, and Keywords to make your products easy to find by customers and third-party search engines.

For a more in-depth look at optimizing your site for search engines, see "SEO Features" or visit The Ecommerce Authority.

Summary

Frequently reviewing your store’s popular search queries is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers and know exactly what visitors to your site are looking for.

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