Digital Themes

Predictive Search

What is Predictive Search?

Predictive search is a type of autocomplete that is used within a search bar. Most internet users are familiar with, and even expect search suggestions that populate as soon as they start typing. Predictive search helps users to better understand popular searches and is useful in saving users time, as they can select their desired option as soon as it pops up, rather than having to completely type it out. This optimizes the search experience, especially for those on mobile devices. Originally designed for users with disabilities that affect their typing abilities, predictive search has since expanded to improve users’ search experiences.

Google introduced the auto complete system as part of Google Suggest in 2008. As part of its suggestions, Google Suggest considered how often a search term has previously been used, the location where the search is originating, and the previous search behavior of the user, especially if the user is logged in to their Google account. This allows for customized search results for each user. Similar predictive search features have since been utilized by various platforms, from other search engines to retail sites and even social media.

Predictive search can help businesses in a variety of ways, including:

  • Decrease search time: Rather than having to spend a lot of time identifying the best way to optimize their search query, users can instead rely on predictive search to make appropriate suggestions. This allows more time for users to spend on the site itself, rather than concentrating on what search terms to utilize.

  • Showing popular search terms: By displaying popular results within a search box, users can gain insights into not only the offerings of the website, but also the more popular search queries of other users. This allows the user to have a better understanding of the website as a whole, as it allows them to see results they may not have considered on their own.

  • Improved user experience: When a user has a hard time finding what they want on a website, they quickly become frustrated. By having a predictive search feature, websites can minimize the aggravation users feel. Rather than entering different terms into the search fields repeatedly, users can trust that they will get accurate suggestions.

  • Highlight promotions: Predictive search enables organizations to automatically suggest products that are on sale. This means that users find relevant results while simultaneously being directed towards cost-saving options. This also benefits the organization through the focus on relevant sales and promotions.

  • Product management: By properly managing predictive search, retail businesses can ensure that users are only directed towards products and services that are available. This can be accomplished by automating predictive search and integrating the inventory system, so that the predictive search algorithm is always up to date.

  • Customized search results: Predictive search can include relevant information from a user’s search history in order to optimize their results. This means that previous purchases and search terms are considered when making recommendations around a user’s current search. This allows for optimized results for each user of a website.
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