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When designing your website, you might consider your target audience’s experience and tools, plug-ins, and features you can add to it to enhance their experience. One such feature is a search bar. A search bar on a website can be a powerful tool and repository for critical information. Law Quill discusses the importance of having a search bar on your website and how you can add it.
What Is a Search Bar on a Website?
A website search bar is similar to the search bar found on search engines, like Google. It is a box that you type in keywords or a question so that you can find information that you are looking for on the internet. While a search engine scours the internet for relevant information, a website search bar limits its search to just what is on the particular website.
A website search bar is frequently found on the top navigation of a website. Rather than navigating your website by clicking on different buttons or links, website visitors type their query in a search box that typically looks something like this:
The user usually clicks on the magnifying glass or pushes “Enter” on their keyboard to get results, which appear in the order of the most relevant.
Benefits of Having a Search Bar on Your Website
There are several reasons why a search bar can benefit your law firm’s website, including that a search bar can:
Help Website Visitors Find Relevant Information Faster
A search bar helps visitors to your website find the information they are looking for faster. If they are interested in a particular topic, they can simply type in the query, rather than trying to find the answer to their question by visiting several, potentially irrelevant pages. The search bar can enhance the user’s experience and their confidence in your website. If they have another question in the future, they might remember your site and visit again, potentially eventually leading to a conversion from a website visitor to a legal client.
Showcase Your Expertise
According to the American Bar Association’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report, many solo and small firm websites contain “little significant content that demonstrates the firm’s expertise.” You can use a search bar to showcase your own expertise and stand apart from your competitors. Your search bar can show your website visitor the closest results for what they are searching. However, they can also find other information that is related to their search. For example, the following search process may ensue, eventually resulting in a contact to the firm:
This process can help you weave the visitor through the customer journey.
Give Readers What They Expect
Another reason to consider adding a search bar to your website is because they are used to them; they might even expect them. With billions of people turning to Google, today’s consumers are used to getting any answer to their question within a few seconds. Some consumers might navigate away from your page if they cannot find the information they want. Therefore, having a search bar on a website can help fulfill your reader’s desire for instant gratification.
Decrease Your Bounce Rate
Google defines a “bounce” as a “single-page session on your site” and a “bounce rate” as “the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.” Ultimately, a bounce rate is how quickly a user navigated away from your site after clicking on your firm from a search engine results page. When you have a search bar, a user can stay on your page longer and interact with your site. Lower bounce rates often translate to higher search engine results rankings.
Another benefit of a lower bounce rate is that if a user does not find what they are looking for on your site, they may go back to the search engine results page and click on another firm, probably a competitor’s site. The easier it is for your web visitors to navigate your website, the more likely they will explore it and stay on your site instead of going to someone else’s site.
Discover What Your Readers Want
The information web users type in your search bar can be very valuable, especially when you integrate your search bar into Google Analytics. This combination allows you to see what people searched for and how often similar searches were made. You can then use this information to optimize certain pages, modify the hierarchy on your navigation menu, and change your design to better anticipate and respond to these needs. By having a search bar on your website, you can gain a better understanding about what people are searching for.
Make the Site More Mobile Friendly
A person can experience the same website differently, depending on which type of device they are using. Sometimes, mobile users have more difficulty navigating business websites due to the smaller size or the difference in how they view content. Search bars are particularly helpful for mobile users because they provide a clear location where the user can go and input information to try to get the results they want.
Can Website Search Bars Impact SEO?
Website search bars can have an impact on search engine optimization (SEO). Here are some key considerations:
- Duplicate Content: When a search bar is used on a website, it generates dynamic URLs that lead to search results pages. These pages can contain duplicate content, which can hurt SEO rankings. To avoid this, it’s important to ensure that search results pages have canonical tags that indicate the original content on the website.
- Crawlability: Search engine crawlers need to be able to crawl the search results pages to index the content. If the search results pages are blocked by robots.txt or other measures, it can prevent search engines from indexing the content, which can hurt SEO.
- Quality Content: Search engines favor websites that have high-quality, relevant content. If a website’s search bar is not providing accurate or relevant search results, it can negatively impact the user experience and ultimately hurt SEO.
- Keywords: A website’s search bar can provide insight into the keywords and phrases that users are searching for on the website. This information can be used to inform the website’s SEO strategy, such as optimizing content for these keywords or identifying new keywords to target.
Overall, a well-designed search bar that provides accurate and relevant search results can improve the user experience and potentially help SEO rankings. However, it’s important to be mindful of potential issues such as duplicate content and crawlability.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Adding a Search Bar To Your Law Firm Website?
While search bars on websites can be useful for users to quickly find what they are looking for, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:
- Inaccurate Results: If the search bar is not properly designed or implemented, it may return inaccurate or irrelevant results, which can frustrate users and undermine the usefulness of the feature.
- Over-reliance on Search: If the search bar is too prominent or easy to use, users may rely too heavily on it and miss out on other important navigation features or content on the website.
- Technical Complexity: Implementing a search bar on a website requires technical expertise and resources, including server infrastructure and programming skills, which can be costly and time-consuming.
- Search Engine Optimization: Search engines may index the search results pages, leading to duplicate content issues and potential SEO penalties.
- Mobile Responsiveness: The search bar may not be optimized for mobile devices, leading to usability issues and frustration for users.
Best Practices for Adding a Search Bar to Your Website
If you are interested in adding a search bar to your website, Law Quill may recommend using the following best practices:
Include a Text Field and Search Button
Most search bars include two elements: the search box and a search button. This is what today’s media users expect to see. Therefore, you can help readers recognize your search bar by using these familiar components. Typically, the search button is to the right of the text input field.
Make the Search Bar Easy to Find
Leave no doubt with your reader by making the search bar easy to find. Search bars give readers the option to find the information they are looking for directly on your site rather than going to a different source. Search bars are typically located in the top-right or top-center of the webpage. It is usually not preferred to place a search bar in the footer of a page or within a menu because it may not be as visible or accessible to website users. You may also want to include the search bar on nearly every page of your site so that no matter where the user is, they can take advantage of the search functionality.
Include the Search Icon
Web designers sometimes use icons to visually convey what some element on a page does. Many web users recognize the magnifying glass icon to represent the “search” function. The magnifying glass can be placed on the search button, inside the search box, or on a button that shows or hides the search bar, for a few common uses.
Make the Search Bar the Appropriate Size
You will also want to consider what size to make the search bar. If you want it to have a prominent space on your website, you will want it to be bigger. Additionally, you will want the search bar to be larger if it will serve as your primary navigational tool. The size of the bar will also depend on the expected length of the user’s input so that they can see their entire question or keyword within the search bar.
You will also need to consider the other elements on the page so that the search bar does not seem disproportionate. Your search bar should not take away valuable space used for other header elements. Also, consider your mobile users when making a proportionate search bar for them.
Autocomplete allows a user to begin typing a query while possible suggestions pop up to complete their question or query. Predictions can be tailored to your site’s content. You can also limit the number of possible suggestions. You can improve functionality by allowing the user to select one of the suggestions or use their cursors to move through them.
Consider More High-Tech Options
You can further enhance your search bar functionality by making search results display certain pages before other results. For example, if someone types in “personal injury,” you could have practice area pages or recent case results pop up before blogs. You can also add drop-down menus to filter out results. Some smarter search functions allow results to populate for commonly misspelled words or words that have alternative terms, such as showing “workers compensation,” “workers’ comp,” “workman’s compensation,” and “workers’ compensation” all in the same search results.
Law Quill Can Help You Add a Search Bar to Your Website
Law Quill can absolutely help you add a search bar to your law firm’s website! Learn more about search bars and other essential law firm website features when you schedule a consultation with Law Quill.