Below are the best practices for which your website should follow to engage users and leave a positive impact:
1: Minimum Set of Relevant Results: For any search, it is a thumb rule to understand relevance and display results.e.g. if query query = “financial services”, then what is the user's intention while searching “financial services”
Default keyword operator here should be "and" rather than "or" to get the relevant results.
2: Boost Relevant Search Results: Relevant results should always be displayed at the top. For example, if a keyword is associated with multiple fields (title, description), “Title” field results should always be weighted and come on top, and if there is an exact match of the phrase it should always score higher.
3: Distance Weighted Keyword Boosting: There should always be phrased proximity search.
e.g. query = “financial services”
A1 should score higher to A2 and A2 should score higher to A3.
4: Stem Keyword Search: stemming is the comparison of a search engine query to the root form of a word used in the query. For example, a user may search for the term "financial", but a search engine that uses stemming technology may return search results for any word that contains the root form of the word (e.g. finance, financing, financial).
Stemming search, e.g. query = “Financial Services”
A1, A2, and A3 all should be searchable in that case.
5: Synonyms Keyword Search: When we discuss content optimization, content should be searchable on synonym words for better search results.
Synonym search, e.g. query = “Attorney Report”
A1 and A2 both should be searchable in that case.
6: Did You Mean (Spell Check): Website users often misspell search terms for a variety of reasons varying from keyboard problems (a key not working), changing one letter accidentally, or adding one more letter.
To provide a better search experience, it is always a good practice to implement - "Did you mean" feature - which provides alternative suggestions when you may have misspelled a search term.
7: Search Terms with Special Character Should Be treated as single word: Many times search words contain hyphens, apostrophes, accented characters (e.g., é), periods, commas, colons, semicolons, in this case, the word should be treated as a phrase, e.g. tax-exempt should be treated like "tax exempt" rather than two separate words.
8: Ignore Stop Words from Search: Stop words are commonly used words such as articles, pronouns, and prepositions. e.g. ‘of ‘, ‘or’, ‘the’ etc. which should not be added to the search dictionary. The primary reason for not indexing stop words is to allow for the most precise search results and to save disk space or to speed up search results.
Creating a relevant search experience for your users is extremely important, as irrelevant results just lead to annoyed, disengaged users.