10 Tips to Handle Zero Search Results

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Zero search results are every online merchant’s worst nightmare. Customers expect to easily and quickly find what they are looking for through the search function. However, it is estimated that as many as 30% of all search queries on ecommerce sites return no matches. When this happens, nearly 20% of customers abandon the site, losing businesses’ potential sales. With search fueling nearly one-third of online purchases, zero results can seriously damage revenues.

While completely preventing zero-results searches is impossible, retailers can take proactive steps to minimize them. Businesses can also focus on retaining customers, even when zeroes occur, through better techniques like navigational facets, thoughtful redirections, enriched metadata and automated experiences.

Listed below are the top 10 tips for reducing zero searches and improving the customer experience

Use synonyms and alternate key phrases

Customers don’t always search for products using the exact name or descriptions. Businesses can ensure these queries also return relevant results by identifying commonly used synonyms and related key phrases through search analytics. For example, if “gown” and “dresses” return product pages for similar items. This keeps search fluid and improves findability.

Implement search-as-you-type functionality


With search-as-you-type, businesses can provide instant customer feedback as they enter their queries. This allows customers to quickly refine searches if initial keywords return no results. For example, as a customer types “co…”, relevant product and category suggestions can be displayed to guide them. This improves the search experience and prevents frustrating zero-result pages.

Use dynamic filters and facets


Dynamic filters and facets, especially category filters, help guide customers to the most relevant products and collections. For example, on a clothing site, if someone searches for “green pants”, displaying dynamic filters for “pants” and “trousers” categories allows the customer to easily explore search results within that filtered context. This reduces ‘zeroes’ as customers can self-correct their queries. Facets also encourage search refinement and browsing.

Expand relevant product lines

Seeing frequent zero results for certain search terms indicates customers want those products. Analytics can reveal top ‘zero’ keywords to understand what lines businesses should consider expanding into. For example, a toy store may notice high searches for board games. Expanding the board game selection pre-emptively addresses an existing customer need and helps reduce zero searches in the long run.

Improve metadata and tags

Outdated, inefficient or incomplete product metadata and tags are a common reason for zero results. By leveraging search analytics, businesses can identify new keywords and refine existing ones to better match customer language. They should also regularly audit all products to ensure properties like name, description and specs are fully optimized for findability.

Handle typos and spelling mistakes

Customers don’t always spell product or category names correctly. A good search gracefully handles minor spelling variations and mistakes by returning relevant results rather than an error page. For example, searching for “grrey t-shrit” on a clothing site may intelligently return gray t-shirt items based on similarity.

Consider redirection

While not a long-term solution, redirecting frequent ‘zero’ searches to similar high-traffic, relevant pages can temporarily improve matters before preventive techniques take effect. For instance, searches for “mattress” are redirected to the “beds” category page. This engages customers with complementary content until their intended search can be supported. However, redirections require continual management and prevent customers from reaching their goals directly.

Promote relevant substitute products

When search issues can’t be solved immediately, feature similar top-selling products customers may find worthwhile. While an alternate, it prevents losing the customer completely to another site. For example, if searching for an out-of-stock item on a plumbing site, displaying a popular related product or a “customers also viewed” unit draws their eye to something new.

Consider altering the marketing funnel

Consistently low intent or irrelevant searches may hint at problems attracting the right crowd earlier. Analytics provides clues to refine marketing and content strategies around the highest intent keywords and topics. For example, if a hardware site observes many tool-related zeroes, better-emphasizing tools in organic search campaigns and creating targeted tool content could shift trends positively.

Automate positive customer experiences

Relying only on human intervention can’t scale to sophisticated search demands. Automating proactive and contextual techniques through an integrated search platform like Expertrec ensures consistent, flawless experiences. Customers appreciate personalized touches like related product recommendations, query suggestions, and dynamic filters – especially when their searches aren’t fulfilled.

Reducing zero searches and improving the customer experience with Expertrec Custom Search Engine

Expertrec’s powerful and comprehensive custom search engine helps online retailers significantly reduce zero search results through various capabilities.  Expertrec Custom Search Engine utilizes natural language processing that understands related terms, common misspellings, and linguistic roots like synonyms and stemming. This allows queries involving closely related words to still return products. For example, a search for “dresses” would also include products tagged with “gowns” and “frocks”.

Expertrec Custom Search Engine also provide real-time query suggestions as customers start typing in the search box. Expertrec analyzes partial queries to predict intent and make intelligent recommendations that guide shoppers towards searches with matches. This prevents many zero-result searches from occurring.

Expertrec Custom Search advanced machine learning algorithms that consider past customer interactions and purchase patterns to truly understand what attributes make a product highly relevant for a given search. Even if an exact match doesn’t exist, Expertrec can still return closely related items that customers are more likely to find useful based on existing site behaviour.

With its advanced natural language processing capabilities and robust analytics, Expertrec empowers online retailers to eliminate a major portion of missed search queries. Merchants can deliver an effortless exploration experience for customers from initial search to final purchase.


If not prevented or addressed properly, zero results can severely hamper customer journeys and abandonments. With the right search analytics-powered strategies, businesses can remedy issues, continuously enhance responses and streamline search to drive conversions. Expertrec’s optimization abilities and expert guidance equip merchants to tackle zero searches better – protecting revenue and customers in the long run.

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