It’s a universal truth in e-commerce: If you design a website that makes it fast and painless for your customers to find and purchase your products, you’ll convert more prospects and make more sales.

The problem is that sometimes the built-in search functionality of your e-commerce platform isn’t mature enough to get the job done.

If potential buyers can’t find exactly what they’re looking for in your e-commerce store because their search queries are returning results that are confusing and downright incorrect – they’re outta there. You’ve lost their sales short term and maybe all their business long term.

You would think that an e-commerce platform like Magento that boasts over 240,000 customers would have top-notch out-of-the-box search capabilities. But if you thought that it seems you would be wrong.

A quick web search turns up some not-so-flattering comments about Magento’s built-in search. One user says it’s “terrible,” while another notes the default search typically “leaves a lot to be desired.” Still another user says the Magento search is the “worst of all the e-commerce platforms I have ever tried.”

The bottom line is that offering consumers fast and accurate search results on your Magento e-commerce site is critical to the success of your business.

There are a number of third-party extensions designed to help you increase the performance of your site search and boost your Magento sales.

Here are five search extensions (in no particular order) to get you started:

Magento Ajax Search And Autocomplete: This extension will help your visitors quickly and easily find the products they’re looking for. The Ajax Search extension improves Magento’s search by offering suggested products as soon as users type just one letter into the search field. This tool supports all major browsers. The configuration is easy to set up and tweak and the extension offers a much better search experience for shoppers. It also shows a photo of each product as it locates it, so shoppers can more easily find what they’re looking for.

Features include:

  • 100% open source
  • Uses the Prototype library. No need for jQuery or any other JavaScript library
  • Completely configurable through admin interface (overall look, suggested product description, suggested product image)
  • The overall look is based on CSS. You can edit colors, background and borders within one CSS file
  • 3 months of free support
  • 1 year of free upgrades
  • Cache search queries on client side for better visitor user experience
  • Doesn’t affect the Magento default search module

The cost of the extension is $29.

Search AutoComplete Magento Extension: Search AutoComplete extension turns your Magento search into a user-friendly process for your customers. It automatically suggests and shows the pop-up with products that have been found, categories and even CMS pages while a user is typing into the search box. It also works if you have a lot of products, categories and static pages. You can customize the look of the pop-up in just one CSS file. You can change every element, including the color you want to use to highlight the keywords, backgrounds, borders, shadow as well as the layout of the pop-up.

The cost of this extension is $79.

License Type: One license works with one Magento set up

Features include:

  • 100% open source
  • Automatically detects what your customers are typing and suggests results that match the letters that are entered
  • AJAX-based pop-up with the results
  • Product details can be configured so you can display only the necessary details in the pop-up (you can display a product name, SKU, short description, description, price, rating, thumbnail and “Add to Cart” button)
  • Ability to hide out-of-stock products in the pop-up
  • Ability to search categories
  • Ability to search CMS/Static pages (full support of Magento widgets added in CMS pages)
  • Ability to display Suggested Searches (it shows what else others searched using current keywords)
  • Ability to limit number of suggested searches in the pop-up
  • Search keywords are highlighted in the results (can be turned on/off)
  • Search keywords are highlighted at the product and CMS pages when you browse them from the pop-up
  • Configurable number of products in the pop-up
  • Configurable number of categories in the pop-up
  • CSupports all major browsers (IE7+, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari)

i95Dev Smart Google Custom Search: The Smart Google Custom Search Extension will search for the right keywords even if customer types in the wrong keyword. The extension uses Google Custom Search Features to search more rigorously for products that are available in your store. The Google Search Algorithm in this extension suggests synonyms for the search keywords. The Magento Google Custom Search Algorithm feature that is built-in to the extension basically searches the entire Magento Database for the specific keyword that a customer is looking for and provides the pertinent information. Customers are provided keyword suggestions even if they misspell keywords, enabling them to search your product information more effectively.

The cost of the Community Edition extension is $29.99

The cost of the Enterprise Edition extension is $74.98

Features include:

  • Free extension updates for six months (request via email)
  • You can only use the extension for one single domain/e-commerce store for single domain license
  • Installation and user manual document is included
  • Compatible with all popular browsers

Better Store Search: Better Store Search (BSS) improves the accuracy of the Magento product search results by moving products that better match search queries to the top of the returned results. This is the same method of search relevance that Google uses. BSS also improves your Magento product search by ensuring that plural words (more than one) will also match their singular forms. Additionally, you can match your Magento categories to your product search results. This includes all items that belong to a category if that category’s name is matched in the search. And you can give specific categories more or less search weight. Each product that matches the category will have its search weight either increased or decreased – depending on whether you want the category’s products to appear higher or lower in search results.

The cost of the extension is:

  • $249 for the Better Store Search Standard License
    • Compatible with Magento Community Edition 1.4+ Services
  • $699 for the Better Store Search Enterprise License
    • Compatible with Magento Community Edition 1.4+ Services

Each license includes:

  • Each license applies to one Magento installation, but unlimited stores/websites per Magento installation
  • Each license includes unlimited updates for 365 days
  • Full refund within 30 days if it doesn’t improve your store search
  • Installing on different server/domain development environments is allowed as long as they are specifically for the purpose of the main installation for which the license was purchased

Advanced Search with Weighted Attributes & Auto-Complete: This Magento search extension adds Advanced Search with Weighted Attributes to your store by allowing you to decide which attributes are more important. For example, if product name and brand are more important than text found in the description, simply give those attributes a higher weight. The autocomplete feature also includes frequently used words and phrases and completely overhauls the default Magento functionality. The Advanced Search with Weighted Attributes Magento extension will build the search index (dictionary) with words and phrases from your product catalog.

Features include:

  • Weighted attributes allows you to assign weighted values to searchable attributes to order their importance
  • Sophisticated autocomplete and autosuggest features
  • Search similarity – takes into consideration plurals and variants of the search terms, misspellings or similarly sounding words
  • Increase sales with more relevant search results
  • No need to install additional third-party systems like Solr or Sphinx
  • No monthly subscription fees – just buy a license and install

The cost of the extension is $149 (special price).

What search extensions are you using? Did we miss any that readers should know about? Let us know on Twitter!

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the Founder & CEO of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Footjoy, GUESS, and Big Chill to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He also once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.