Diminishing Custom and Brand Trust: The State of Site Search in Europe

In today’s increasingly digital world, search has never been more important. But while the realm of consumer search has innovated over time, site search has changed little since its inception in the 1990s. To better understand the importance of site search and how outdated technology is impacting customer experiences – and conversions – we gathered insights from 5,000 consumers across the UK, France and Germany.

Our findings make for essential – and in some cases, damning – reading for businesses failing to leverage the capabilities of site search. Especially in an age of increasing customer expectations, accelerated by the impacts of COVID-19. Read on or check out our infographic to discover the importance of site search to the modern enterprise and how AI Search – spearheaded by Yext – can equip your business with the necessary tools to thrive today, and long into the future.

Site Search is Important: So Why Aren’t Businesses Doing More?

In this digital age, every business – regardless of size – has a strategy in place to drive online visibility via SEO. But site search is often overlooked. And with our research revealing that a majority of respondents (58%) use site search at least weekly, and 83% of those using it also saying site search is important in providing them with up to date information, it begs the question why more isn’t being done to meet this demand.

Part and parcel of this is the fact that many businesses simply don’t have capable search technology in place. As quantified by the 43% of respondents that say the ability to understand their questions would make them use site search more, as would the option to take direct action (29%) and making suggestions for search queries (24%).

In neglecting site search, organisations are also missing out on invaluable custom, with 59% of respondents stating they’d be more likely to buy from a business that provided direct answers to their questions via search functions. But custom isn’t the only way enterprises are being hindered by overlooking site search.

In today’s consumer-driven society, brand trust is a cornerstone of success – if a customer doesn’t trust you, they’ll simply find another brand that meets their expectations. So, the fact that 51% of respondents would also be more likely to trust a business if they provided direct answers, is once again an indicator of missed opportunities.

Site Search isn’t Fit for 21st Century Consumers

Digging a little deeper as to the inadequacies of existing site search infrastructure, it simply isn’t fit for modern consumers who are preconditioned to expect direct answers to their questions. The majority of businesses still use Keyword Search to power their site search, which provides a set of blue link results – based on individual keywords – that rarely help customers find what they want. Our research goes a long way to confirming this, with 30% of respondents who use site search becoming frustrated with it at least once a week.

In addition, 32% also believe site search provides out of date or inaccurate information, 35% believe site search doesn’t understand their questions, and 40% believe site search technology provides them with unrelated search results. So, it seems the jury is in. The verdict? Site search is stuck in the past and is failing consumers at every turn.

It goes without saying the detrimental impact this will have in meeting the expectations of modern consumers and delivering experiences that are fit for the 21st Century. But what’s more worrying still is the 34% of respondents that believe businesses aren’t doing enough to improve their site search.

By Snubbing Site Search You’re Only Hindering Yourself

By not doing more towards improving site search, businesses aren’t just failing customers – they’re also harming their own ability to compete in a modern business landscape. Once again, our research paints a damning picture for laggards, with its findings that 26% of respondents have frequently bought a product or service from a different business than they intended because they couldn’t find the relevant information.

This is only reinforced by the 36% of respondents that would instead turn to a search engine if they couldn’t find what they were looking for via site search. The fact that 51% of users admit to changing the way they search for information when using site search compared to a search engine also highlights site search’s inefficiencies. 

And once again, the neglecting of site search tells a tale of missed opportunities, with 58% of respondents stating how they’d be more likely to go straight to a customer’s website if they provided direct answers. 

The (only) good news is that not all industries are as at risk of missing opportunities, with consumer-facing industries such as retail (34%), entertainment services (31%), and travel and hospitality (29%) considered to have good site search. Compared to verticals such as energy and utilities (17%), government services (22%), and telecoms (15%) that were selected for having a poor site search experience.

Supercharge Your Search with Yext’s Answers

Ultimately, our research findings show that current site search offerings simply aren’t equipped to meet the needs of modern consumers – and businesses are being negatively impacted as a result of this. They are losing out on custom, as well as invaluable consumer trust in their brand.

Fortunately, with Yext at the forefront of search innovation, enterprises aren’t doomed to be stuck in 1999 forever. By leveraging our answers-led search platform, powered by advanced natural language processing (NLP), businesses can bring their search with them into the 21st Century and leave keyword search in the past, where it belongs.

To see how Yext can supercharge your website and deliver engaging search experiences, request a demo



All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 5310 adults, of which 4396 use site search. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th – 7th May 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all French, German and UK adults (aged 18+).

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