Your Website Needs a Search Bar, Here’s Why

Designing a business website is time intensive and draining. There are so many different aspects and features that must be included. And while it’s difficult to say one element is more important than another, few would argue that a website search bar ranks near the top on a list of must-haves.

Why You Need a Search Bar

If you’re out of the loop, a search bar is essentially a small box that’s added to a website (header, footer, sidebar, etc.) in order to allow visitors to search the website for particular keywords, terms, and products. The best example of a search bar is Google, since most people are familiar with how a search engine functions. An onsite search bar is the same thing – but only delivers results for your website.

Not every website needs a search bar, but if you have lots of content and your users demand quick and intuitive navigation, then it would be wise to include one. A good search bar puts users in control of their onsite experience, reduces bounce rates, increases click through rates, and helps users find exactly what they’re looking for.

If you want an idea of what a good search bar looks like, check out Kayak. Their hotel page features a very simple, yet robust search bar. Visitors can search based on basic information – destination, check in and check out dates, and number of guests – or they can click a dropdown menu that reveals additional search options (star rating, price range, etc.).

Another good example is the search bar on the StartJobs homepage. It includes two search boxes that can be used in tandem with one another to find jobs in specific locations. By providing options, users are more likely to use the search bar.

Options for Adding a Search Bar

When deciding to incorporate a search bar into your website, there are three basic options at your disposal. They are as follows:

  • Widget: The most popular option is the widget. There are a number of different WordPress widgets that allow you to seamlessly drag and drop various search boxes into your existing layout. These are typically very basic search bars, but can be valuable in certain situations.
  • Custom: If your website has very specific needs, or wants search bar functionality that doesn’t currently exist in the form of a widget, you can design your own custom bar.
  • Google: Finally, Google actually has a search bar that can be incorporated into your website free of charge. Simply follow the instructions on this page to create your own custom search engine.

In all likelihood, you’ll go with one of these three options when adding a search bar to your website. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons, so be sure to do your homework.

3 Mistakes to Avoid

While implementing a search bar is a pretty straightforward process, there are some things you’ll want to avoid. Let’s quickly review a handful of the top mistakes:

  • Avoid placing the search box at the very bottom of the page. It needs to be as visible as possible (most likely in the header).
  • Don’t make the input field too short. If there’s not enough room for the searcher to input long queries, the search box is essentially unusable. 
  • While a feature-rich search box is good, you don’t want to overwhelm users with too many options.

If you’re able to avoid these common mistakes, the design and implementation of your new search box will be easy and straightforward.

Maximize Your Website’s Value

If your website is full of content, product listings, and an endless stream of pages, then you need a search bar to help visitors find what they’re looking for. The good news is that there’s a lot of flexibility in how you incorporate a search bar into your website. Keep this information in mind as you pursue your options.