Turn ‘no results’ pages into conversion winners

As both website users and user experience experts, we can all relate to the situation of searching for a specific product or string of words on a company’s website and getting the simple dead-end response: “No Results Found.”

True, sometimes they’ll switch it up with “0 Results Found,” but most of the time, the effect remains the same: We feel lost, and we often feel stranded without any guide or next steps to follow. These are the “No result” pages crucial mistakes.

We see the effect time and again in our Clicktale session playbacks: Users typically reach an empty “No Results” page and then pause to “look around” with their mouse, scrolling up and down. They then attempt to either re-enter a search, hit the back button, or abandon the website entirely.

We can’t help but wonder how many potential customers fall through the cracks after a failed search and abandon the shopping experience altogether. From content sites to ecommerce sites, the “No Results” page is the opportune place to start flipping those “failed searches” into successful conversion stories. Let’s start with the easiest recommendations to implement and move our way up:

1. STOP IT BEFORE IT HAPPENS

This is somewhat of a no-brainer, but it’s so important that it’s worth mentioning. Prevention is always better than treatment. Improve your site’s search engine results, make sure all your pages are up to date, and build your own controlled vocabulary. Do what it takes to ensure that none of your users sees the “no results” page, and you will reap huge benefits.

2. IMPLEMENT AUTOCOMPLETE WITH A TWIST!

Auto-complete search represents one of the best ways to prevent the “No Results” page from appearing altogether. Presenting autocomplete suggestions accompanied by product thumbnails, like Shoe Me Gorgeous does, is a smart and user-friendly way to gain a competitive edge. Adding images to on-page autocomplete search results can increase your overall conversions, average order value, and per visit value.

3. INCLUDE AUTOMATIC SPELL CHECK OR  SIMPLE CHECKING REMINDERS

It is no surprise that Google has dramatically pushed user expectations when it comes to internal search on websites. We now expect internal site searches to auto-correct our spelling mistakes or offer a polite, “Did You Mean ___?”

Yet, surprisingly, this functionality is still not yet standard across many sites. You should aim to implement automatic spell check. But if this is a challenge right now, you can still take advantage of the “No Results Found” page to make it clear that there are no matching results, and gently remind users to do the following:

  • Check their your spelling
  • Try using more general words
  • Try typing different synonyms words that mean the same thing


An example of an alternative display for "0 results found"

Shutterstock is a good example of what a website can do if a search query pulls up zero results. Its first reminder is that the user should check his/her spelling. And if that does not help, it suggests that users to edit the search query term - and then offers further recommendations.

4. ALWAYS OFFER ANOTHER WAY FORWARD

Clicktale mouse move and click heatmaps confirm that most visitors will abandon a site within 2 minutes if they can’t find what they are looking for. When users are confronted with 0 results and with no additional guidance, we see a more scattered distribution of mouse moves and clicks around the page and the majority of the mouse interactions tends to fall over the search bar or towards the top of the page – either near the back button or towards the browser bar, which indicates abandonment of the website.


Mouse Move Heatmap of a "0 results" page, showing excessive mouse movement around the page.

The solution is simple: Don’t leave potential customers stranded without any direction! Remember, they are only one click away from exiting your website.

Besides offering spelling suggestions and tips on how to better approach or refine the user’s search, you can:

  • Offer a search box with the original query still there for the user to easily edit.
  • Always provide relevant alternatives whenever possible. ‘No results’ may be an indication that the product is “not in stock”, so use this opportunity to offer up other recommended and related items.
  • Similarly, provide links to other popular choices or categories on the website. Users are depending on your next response, so use this space wisely to provide them with something of value!

5. THE MOBILE ANGLE

It goes without saying that mobile users should enjoy the same (or better) experiences as desktop users. Your mobile “no results” page will likely get more hits than the desktop equivalent due to a higher occurrence of misspellings, so you need to make sure that all the same navigation options and suggestions for next steps are available for the mobile user.Mobile users have less patience than those on desktop, and they can also be more easily distracted from the task at hand, so providing quick, easy and obvious solutions for them to find what they are looking for is crucial. There isn’t too much room for error here - users expect an easy ride on mobile and if they don’t get it, they’ll go elsewhere.

6. BE EMPATHIC

As ever, you do not want your “no results” page to alienate the user. You are working for them, and you need to make them feel comfortable and at home using your site. You should strive to humanize your website and your copy: “0 results found” is frustrating - but it’s hard to get too mad at “We’re sorry we can’t seem to find anything that matches {query}. How about we try again?” A little empathy can go a long way. Just make sure that if you do go for some lighthearted copy on these pages, you don’t make it seem like you’re mocking the user.

CONCLUSION: A LITTLE PLANNING CAN GO A LONG WAY

Whether you or your company are ahead of the game or just starting to optimize your internal search experience, don’t overlook the importance of the “No Results Found” page. These six “no result” pages best practices we’ve mentioned above – preventing it, implementing automatic spell-check, providing alternatives, and adding product thumbnails to auto-suggestions – should strongly resonate with your users and improve their overall experience with your site. With a little planning, you can easily turn the many missed opportunities from failed search actions into additional conversion winners.

Learn more how to increase conversions with Clicktale.

This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

 

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