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 the effect remains the same: We feel lost and we’re oftentimes stranded without any guide or next steps to follow.

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.

How many potential customers fall through the cracks in search and abandon the shopping experience? According to a Nielsen Norman Group study, most users (64%) are able to find what they are looking for within their first search query on an e-commerce site. That’s pretty good. However, only 10% of users who attempt multiple queries eventually make it to a successful search result.
From content sites to e-commerce 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 - Include Automatic Spell Check. Or a Simple Reminder to Check Your Spelling.

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 kindly, “Did You Mean ___?”

Yet, surprisingly, this functionality is still not yet standard across many sites. Aim to implement automatic spell check. But if this is a challenge, take advantage of the “No Results Found” page to gently remind users to do the following:

  • Check your spelling
  • Try more general words
  • Try different words that mean the same thing


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

Food.com is a good example of what a website can do if a search query pulls up 0 results. In particular, its first reminder is that the user should check his/her spelling and if that does not help, it suggests users to edit the search query term - and then offers further recommendations.

2 - Always Offer Another Way Forward

Surveys reveal that 73% of visitors will abandon a site within 2 minutes if they can’t find what they are looking for. Clicktale mouse move and click heatmaps confirm this: 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, indicating 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 a guidepost! 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, 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!

3 - Implement Auto-Complete with a Twist!

Auto-complete search represents one of the best ways to prevent the “No Results” page from appearing altogether. While auto-complete is becoming more popular across the web, there’s still quite a long way to go. Out of 160 e-commerce sites interviewed in a recent SLI study, only 62.5% of sites were found using the standard text auto-complete and only 28.2% said they are incorporating graphics with the auto-complete suggestions. Presenting auto-complete suggestions accompanied by product thumbnails is a smart and user-friendly way to increase conversions and gain a competitive edge.

Product thumbnails next to auto-complete suggested terms enhance conversion.

Mod Cloth were able to increase orders by 5% and average order value by 3% in their tablet traffic by adding product thumbnails next to their auto-complete suggested terms. Adding images can go a long way!

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. The three easy recommendations we’ve mentioned above – 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.

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