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3 Ways to Drastically Improve Magento Search - Elan Creative
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3 Ways to Drastically Improve Magento Search

The standard Magento search functionality is, let’s face it, absolute pants! There’s absolutely no need to purchase an expensive add-on search extension to improve your Magento search, which typically range from $100 in price. I have tested and optimised Magento website searches and found that the following 3 steps will drastically improve the search results on your website.

1. Change Search to Fulltext

The standard configuration is ‘search type’ set to ‘like’ which produces awful results. Go to System>Catalog>Catalog Search and change this to ‘fulltext’ and don’t forget to reindex the  ‘Catalog Search Index’ before you can see the results of this (via System>Index Management)

magento search settings


2. Remove Search Auto Complete

Why would we want to remove this you ask yourself? Well it looks horrible for a start, and shows the number of results against each keyword which is misleading at best. Another undesirable effect of the auto complete is that when a visitor enters a search term, it’ll be added to the items in the auto complete. So spelling errors, stupid product searches et al will be included for your other website visitors to see. NOT very professional and also not a very desirable ‘improvement’.

There is a quick and easy way to remove the autocomplete if you’re confident editing files via FTP. In your template files go to /template/catalogsearch/form.mini.phtml and copy the file and make a backup of it (just in case). Now look for the line towards the bottom of the file

searchForm.initAutocomplete(‘<?php echo $this->helper(‘catalogsearch’)->getSuggestUrl() ?>’, ‘search_autocomplete’);

then just comment it out, like so

// searchForm.initAutocomplete(‘<?php echo $this->helper(‘catalogsearch’)->getSuggestUrl() ?>’, ‘search_autocomplete’);

3. Analyse and Optimise Customer Searches

Go to Catalog>Search Terms and you’ll find an invaluable record of all the search terms the visitors to your site have ever used. Click twice on the ‘Number of Uses’ column to sort from highest number of searches.

The great thing about this section of the Magento admin is that you can point particular searches to particular pages of your website. Click one of the search terms to edit it e.g. ‘pink’. Now enter the URL which shows all pink items in your website and you have full control over what your customer sees, i.e. hand-picked, pink items that you want your customers to see when searching for pink items.

Things to consider about search data:

  • There are some weird search terms that must be created by robots/automated programs. Possibly trying to hack/spam your site? Not sure! As long as your software is up to date you have less to worry about because it will have all the latest security patches applied. Anyway you can ignore search terms like this ‘ or 1=1–
  • If you’ve had the auto fill enabled then you’ll see that people have used the auto fill suggestions over and over again, skewing the data that would have otherwise been present had visitors been left to manually type in their own search terms.

When  you’ve implemented the above don’t forget to clear the website caches as well as your browser cache before you can see the changes. I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the improvements gained from these 3 configuration updates.

If you found this useful and it improved your Magento search, please ‘like’ and share it. Thanks!

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Nina Young About the author

I studied mathematics at university, taught myself software development, honed my skills with multinational companies such as IBM and have set up and sold my own businesses. My perspective covers the all important period when a business moves from small and successful to substantial and market-leading, and my personal experience allows me to provide online solutions that give business leaders mastery of their online presence and control over business development.

  • just building a Magento site and wondering why the search was so useless – thanks for this !

    September 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm
  • Perry

    Thanks for this great post! I’d like to add some things.
    1. It’s advisable to track site search with Google Analytics as this lets see detailed reports on customers’ search terms and act accordingly. For example, if somebody looks for the product you have but uses a synonym, the product may not be found, it means that you lose potential orders.
    2. Default Magento search looks for search terms through all product attributes which results to irrelevant search. So you can set a priority for product attributes as product title is more important than reference in description, for example. I don’t know how to make it programmatically, I’m using a search pro extension by amasty for that.

    January 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm

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