Ecommerce Growth

How to Master Shopify Search & Discovery in 5 Easy Steps

Ecommerce Growth

How to Master Shopify Search & Discovery in 5 Easy Steps

The Importance of Mastering Shopify Search & Discovery

An efficient Shopify Search & Discovery system is crucial for any online store aiming to boost sales and improve user experience. This powerful app offers:

  • Enhanced product filters
  • Advanced on-site search results
  • Tailored product recommendations

By leveraging intelligent algorithms and customizable features, you can transform your customer's shopping experience.

For instance, customizing product filters allows shoppers to find what they want with ease, while tailored on-site search ensures relevant results. Not to mention, predictive search and semantic understanding further refine the search, making it intuitive and user-friendly.

An infographic illustrating key features of Shopify Search & Discovery. - shopify Search & Discovery infographic roadmap-5-steps

Step 1: Setting Up Shopify Search & Discovery

Activating the App

To start using the Shopify Search & Discovery app, you need to install it from the Shopify App Store. Here’s how:

  1. Install the App: Go to the Shopify App Store, find the Shopify Search & Discovery app, and click Add app. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
  2. Grant Permissions: Once installed, the app will request permissions to access your store's data. These permissions are crucial for the app to function correctly. Click Approve to grant access.

After installation, you can immediately start customizing your store’s search and discovery features.

Customizing Staff Permissions

To fully utilize the Shopify Search & Discovery app, your staff needs specific permissions. Here’s what each permission allows:

  • Products: Required for editing product recommendations, product boosts, and filters.
  • Online Store Search and Navigation: Needed for editing filters and synonyms.
  • Reports: Required for viewing analytics.

Here’s how to assign these permissions:

  1. Navigate to Staff Permissions: From your Shopify admin, go to Settings > Users and permissions.
  2. Select Staff Member: Click on the staff member you want to assign permissions to.
  3. Assign Permissions: Check the boxes for Products, Online Store Search and Navigation, and Reports.
  4. Save Changes: Click Save to apply the permissions.

Product Recommendations

Product recommendations can significantly enhance the shopping experience by suggesting items that customers are likely to buy. With the Shopify Search & Discovery app, you can edit these recommendations:

  1. Go to Product Recommendations: In the app, navigate to Recommendations.
  2. Select Products: Choose the products you want to recommend on specific product detail pages.
  3. Save Changes: Click Save to update your recommendations.

By setting up the Shopify Search & Discovery app and customizing staff permissions, you ensure that your team can effectively manage and optimize your store’s search and discovery features. This sets a strong foundation for enhancing your e-commerce site’s functionality.

Next, we’ll explore how to customize product filters to further refine your customers' search experience.

Step 2: Customizing Product Filters

Product filters are essential for helping your customers find exactly what they're looking for. They refine search results and make it easier to navigate large catalogs. Let's dive into how to create and customize both standard and custom filters in Shopify.

Creating Standard Filters

Standard filters are built-in options that you can easily set up in Shopify. These include:

  • Availability: Display products based on their stock status (in stock, out of stock).
  • Category: Filter products by their assigned categories.
  • Price: Allow customers to filter products within a specific price range.
  • Product type: Sort products by their type, such as electronics, clothing, etc.
  • Tags: Use product tags to create more specific filters.
  • Vendor: Filter products by their brand or supplier.

To create standard filters:

  1. Open the Shopify Search & Discovery app: Go to Filters.
  2. Add Filter: Click on Add filter.
  3. Select Source: Choose the filter source you want to add (e.g., Availability, Category).
  4. Save: Click Save to apply the filter.

Adding Custom Filters

Custom filters allow you to tailor the filtering options to your unique product catalog. These can be based on product options, metafields, or metaobjects.

  • Product Options: These are based on product variants. For example, you can create a filter for Size if you sell clothing with different size options.
  • Metafields: These are useful for creating filters unique to your product catalog, like Age for children's toys.
  • Metaobjects: Use these for more complex data structures, like color swatches or visual filters.

To add custom filters:

  1. Go to Filters: In the Shopify Search & Discovery app.
  2. Add Filter: Click on Add filter.
  3. Select Source: Choose a custom filter source, such as a metafield or product option.
  4. Save: Click Save to apply the custom filter.

Best Practices for Filters

Grouping Filter Values: Group similar filter values together to make filtering easier for customers. For example, group Onyx, Ebony, and Midnight under a single filter called Black.

Sorting Filter Values: You can sort filter values to improve usability. Use automatic sorting to display values in ascending order or create custom sort orders for specific needs, like sizes.

Visual Filters: Enhance the shopping experience by using visual filters. For example, use color swatches for color options or icons for specific features. This helps customers quickly understand their options.

color swatches - shopify Search & Discovery

Steps for Visual Filters:

  1. Set Up Metafields: Create metafields for your products with visual elements like colors or images.
  2. Configure Filters: In the Shopify Search & Discovery app, go to Filters and select a metafield filter with a metaobject reference.
  3. Display Options: Choose a visual style (swatch or image) and link it to the appropriate field.

By customizing your product filters, you can significantly enhance your customers' shopping experience. Next, we'll look at how to enhance search results to make product discovery even easier.

Step 3: Enhancing Search Results

Activating Semantic Search

Semantic Search is a game-changer for your Shopify store. It's designed to understand what your customers really mean when they search for something. Instead of just matching keywords, it takes into account the context and intent behind the search.

For example, if a customer searches for christmas party shoes, Semantic Search can associate the search term with colors like green or red for Christmas, and pumps for party shoes. This makes the search results more relevant and intuitive.

How to Activate Semantic Search:1. Open the Shopify Search & Discovery app.2. Go to Settings.3. Scroll to the Search relevance section.4. Click Turn on to activate Semantic Search.

Requirements:- Available for English storefronts with fewer than 200,000 products.- Only offered for Shopify, Advanced, and Plus plans.- Must use Shopify's native search results.

Adjusting Search Result Types

Your store's search can return different types of results, such as products, pages, and blog posts. Adjusting these settings ensures that your customers see the most relevant results.

Search Results:1. Products: Show individual products.2. Pages: Include informational pages.3. Blog Posts: Display relevant blog articles.

Predictive Search Results:1. Products: Show product suggestions.2. Pages: Include page suggestions.3. Blog Posts: Display blog post suggestions.4. Collections: Show product collections.5. Queries: Include search suggestions.

How to Adjust Result Types:1. Go to the Shopify Search & Discovery app.2. Navigate to Settings.3. Choose the types of results you want for both search results and predictive search.

Out of Stock Products:- You can choose to display, hide, or place out-of-stock products last in the search results.

Boosting Product Visibility

Product Boosts allow you to feature specific products in search results, helping them rank higher when certain search terms are used. This is great for promoting new products, bestsellers, or items on sale.

How to Create a Product Boost:1. Open the Shopify Search & Discovery app.2. Click on Search, then Product boosts.3. Click Create product boost.4. Select the products you want to promote.5. Add up to 10 search terms.6. Click Save.

Best Practices:- Boost a small number of products to avoid cluttering search results.- Use relevant search terms to ensure the boosted products are what customers are looking for.- Consider using synonym groups to enhance search relevance without necessarily boosting the product.

By following these steps, you can make your search results more relevant and intuitive, helping customers find exactly what they need faster. Next, we'll explore how to utilize synonyms for even better search results.

Step 4: Utilizing Synonyms for Better Search

Creating Synonym Groups

Synonym groups are a powerful feature in the Shopify Search & Discovery app. They help improve search relevance by linking different terms that customers might use to find the same product. For example, if you sell "slings" but some customers search for "belt bags," creating a synonym group for these terms ensures both searches return the same results.

Steps to Create Synonym Groups:

  1. Open the Shopify Search & Discovery app.
  2. Click Search.
  3. Select Synonyms, then click Create synonym group.
  4. Enter each word or phrase you want to be synonymous, and click Add.
  5. Give the group a title (this is for your reference and doesn't affect search results).
  6. Click Save.

Best Practices:

  • Relevance: Ensure all terms in a group are clear substitutes. Avoid loosely related terms like "men" and "boys."
  • Compound Words: Include variations like "belt bag," "beltbag," and "belt-bag."
  • Uniqueness: Each synonym must be unique across your store.

Managing Synonym Behavior

Understanding how synonyms work can help you optimize search results even further. Here are some key points:

Phrase Search:

When a synonym has multiple words separated by spaces, like "belt bag," it acts as a phrase search. This means the words must appear in the exact order for the synonym to match.

  • Example: If "sling" and "belt bag" are synonyms, searching for "sling" will show products containing "sling" and "belt bag." Searching "belt bag" will show products containing "belt" and "bag" in any order and those with "sling."

Conditions When Synonyms Aren't Used:

  1. Product SKU and Barcode: Synonyms don't work for searches involving product SKUs and barcodes.
  2. Search Syntax: Queries containing search syntax won't utilize synonyms.

By using synonyms effectively, you can make your search results more relevant and improve the overall customer experience.

Next, we'll dive into analyzing and optimizing search performance to ensure your search functionality is always at its best.

Step 5: Analyzing and Optimizing Search Performance

Viewing Analytics

Analytics are crucial for understanding how your customers interact with your store's search functionality. By leveraging detailed reports, you can gain insights into customer navigation, search behavior, and overall search performance.

Key Metrics to Track:1. Top Search Results: Identify the most frequently searched terms.2. No Results Found: Discover search terms that return no results to address gaps in your product offerings.3. Customer Navigation: Understand how users move through your store after performing a search.

How to Access Analytics:1. Track Ecommerce Events: Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor product searches, cart additions, and purchases.2. Analyze Search Terms: Look at the specific search terms your customers use to find products.3. Monitor Filter Usage: Evaluate which filters are most commonly used.

Optimizing Based on Data

Once you have the data, the next step is to optimize your search functionality to improve user experience and increase conversions.

Steps to Optimize:

  1. Identify Popular Products: Boost visibility for frequently searched items.
  2. Address No Results: Create synonym groups or adjust product tags to ensure relevant products appear for previously unfruitful searches.
  3. Enhance Descriptions: Improve product descriptions, images, or pricing for items that are often searched but rarely purchased.

Case Study:Google's Retail Search tool shows that precise search results can significantly reduce cart abandonment. According to Google, retailers saw increased sales conversions and better customer engagement by optimizing search functionalities.

Best Practices:- Review Reports Regularly: Consistently monitor your analytics to stay updated on search trends.- Use Data-Driven Decisions: Make informed changes based on customer behavior and search insights.- Test and Iterate: Continuously test new strategies and iterate based on performance data.

By analyzing and optimizing your search performance, you can ensure that your Shopify store provides the best possible user experience, leading to higher engagement and sales.

Next, we'll address some frequently asked questions about Shopify Search & Discovery.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shopify Search & Discovery

What is the Shopify Search & Discovery app?

The Shopify Search & Discovery app is a powerful tool designed to enhance your online store’s search functionality. It helps customers find products quickly and efficiently by delivering relevant search results tailored to their needs. This app uses intelligent algorithms to analyze user behavior and preferences, ensuring personalized and accurate search outcomes.

Some key features include:- Customizable product filters- Dynamic filters- Autocomplete suggestions- Sorting options- Product recommendations

By utilizing this app, you can improve the overall shopping experience, leading to higher satisfaction and increased sales.

How does Shopify search work?

Shopify search leverages advanced algorithms to provide accurate and relevant search results. Here’s how it works:

  1. Keyword Matching: The search engine matches the keywords entered by the customer with the product titles, descriptions, tags, and other attributes.
  2. Semantic Search: For stores with fewer than 200,000 products, semantic search helps understand the customer’s intent. For example, if a customer searches for "christmas party shoes," the search engine can understand that "green" or "red" colors and "pumps" are relevant results.
  3. Predictive Search: As customers type in the search bar, predictive search suggests results in real-time, making the search process faster and more efficient.
  4. Product Boosts: Merchants can prioritize certain products, ensuring they appear at the top of search results based on specific search terms.

These functionalities ensure customers find what they are looking for quickly, enhancing their overall shopping experience.

What is predictive search on Shopify?

Predictive search is a feature that provides real-time search suggestions as customers type in the search bar. It helps speed up the search process by displaying possible matches instantly.

Key aspects of predictive search:- Instant Suggestions: As soon as customers start typing, relevant products, collections, pages, and blog posts are suggested.- Improved Accuracy: Predictive search reduces the chances of spelling errors and typos affecting search results.- Enhanced User Experience: By showing potential matches early, it helps customers find products faster, leading to a smoother shopping experience.

To enable predictive search, you can integrate it into your theme, ensuring it aligns seamlessly with your store’s design and layout.

For detailed steps on how to add predictive search to your theme, click here.

By understanding and utilizing these features, you can significantly enhance your store's search functionality, making it easier for customers to find what they need. Next, we’ll conclude with a summary of the benefits of mastering Shopify Search & Discovery.


Mastering Shopify Search & Discovery can transform your online store. By leveraging its advanced features, you can make sure customers find what they're looking for quickly and easily. This not only improves their shopping experience but also boosts your sales.

Here's a quick summary of the key benefits:

  1. Enhanced Search Results: With semantic search and predictive search, your store can understand customer intent better, delivering more accurate results.

  2. Customizable Filters: Tailor product filters to match your store’s unique offerings, making it easier for customers to narrow down their choices.

  3. Product Boosts and Synonyms: Highlight specific products and create synonym groups to ensure customers find what they need, even if they use different search terms.

  4. Data-Driven Optimization: Use analytics to understand customer behavior and continuously improve your search functionality.

At First Pier, we specialize in Shopify development and optimization. Our team knows how crucial effective search functionality is for e-commerce success. We can help you implement and optimize the Shopify Search & Discovery app, transforming your store into a high-performance sales machine.

Ready to take your Shopify store to the next level? Contact us today to get started on your journey to search optimization and online success.

Happy optimizing!

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There's more where that came from

Enjoyed the read? There’s a heap more where that came from! Hit the ‘Subscribe’ button below, it’s a two-second affair, but the bounty of e-commerce wisdom we share is endless. You’d be silly not to!