A customer is on your site, you have what they are looking for, but they can't find it FAST enough! OPPS, they're gone! AHHHH!
The push for content rich websites and a got-to-get-there-first mentality has created an environment that demands instant, accurate information! Expectations have been set high by stellar companies that provide an exceptional on-page search engine experience, and 24hrs in a day just isn't enough!
Finding what we want fast, is becoming part of our culture, not only are we mad men & women in cars, now we're also mad men & women with devices. So optimising the way your website presents on-page search information makes good sense, and if it benefits your customers, it benefits your business.
Most content management systems will allow you to set up a simple or advanced on-page search engine, and these mechanisms typically present search results based on entry date, date range, channel, category or even popularity.
But just because you've got all that ammunition doesn't mean you have to fire that gun. Sometimes the human element just does it better.
A little planning and organization will go a long way.
Lets assume you have a content management system such as WordPress or ExpressionEngine.
Rank your page categories - what's more important the "about" pages or the "product" pages? For our on-page search purposes we prioritized our pages categories as:
Just to clarify, we always want our search pages to display categories in order shown above.
Pretty much all content management systems track pages with a publish on date. Using this fact, we can use dates to group page categories and rank the pages within those categories.
Now when you test your results pages, they should always show the page categories as you ranked them.
In ExpressionEngine, when we set up our page channels, we are given the opportunity to designate input field information to show as the descriptions in our results page. We could have used our meta description (for driving a user to the website) as an off-page search engine would do, but we decided to create a custom field that we felt would work better as an on-page description (for keeping the user on the site).