Congratulations! You've Gotten Visitors to your Site!. . . Now, can they find what they're looking for?
By Robin Nobles
As search engine marketers, we spend an enormous amount of time trying to get targeted traffic to our site. But, once those visitors get to our site, can they find what they're looking for? If not, guess what? We've lost a customer.
Think about it this way. How many times have you found a site through a major search engine or directory, only to visit site and not be able to find what you're looking for anywhere on site? What do you do next? You go back to search engine and click on next site. That site has lost a customer: you.
Helping your visitors find what they're looking for on your site can cover a great many areas, such as navigation, user interface issues, and lack of a clear "call to action."
But one way around many of those issues is to offer an onsite search engine, so that once visitors hit your site, they can easily find exactly what they're looking for.
The really neat thing about onsite search engines is that many of them are FREE. Yes, you read right: free. Of course, that also means that you may have ads in your search results, which may or may not present problems for you. However, even if you choose to purchase an onsite engine, cost is generally not expensive.
What should you look for in an onsite search engine?
* Good customer support. If you begin to have problems with engine, you want to be able to get help in fixing it.
* Reports that let you know what people are searching for once they reach your site. Just think of GOLD this will tell you! If you don't have a page that covers a particular topic, make one!
* Ease in setting up engine. This may or may not be an issue to you, but if you're like me, you want something that is simple to set up and maintain.
* An extensive "help" section at site that will walk you through setting up engine and answer any questions you might have.
* The ability to keep engine out of certain areas of your site that you don't want spidered and available through search, such as employee areas, password-protected member areas, etc.
* The ability to spider password-protected areas so that your member areas can have their own onsite search.
* The ability to customize search results pages.
* The capability to request re-indexing whenever you update site, or even to schedule re-indexing on a regular basis.
In my training material and resource library at Academy, I had an onsite search engine for a long time. Then, company folded. Until recently, I hadn't set up another onsite engine, because one onsite engine that I really wanted to use didn't index password-protected areas. So, I "patiently" waited for onsite engine, FreeFind, to add this to their list of features. When they recently did, I jumped on it, and now both of my online training programs have excellent onsite search engines through FreeFind (http://www.freefind.com).