What is a search box?
As the name suggests, search boxes are widgets that allow your users to search for properties. They typically have fields for check-in and check-out dates and number of guests – as well as pre-set filters, depending on the type of user that usually visits your site.
Search boxes can be customized to match your user’s intent, and there are lots of colour schemes so that the box fits nicely into your site’s design. They’re also mobile-responsive, so you can bring in bookings from people who use your site on the go.
Why use a search box?
Search boxes are one of the most popular widgets that we offer to our partners, and they’re also among the highest-converting.
They’re a great way to lead your users seamlessly from your site to a list of properties that fit their interests – and ultimately, to making a booking.
How can I use a search box on my website?
Firstly, you need to consider your typical visitors. Are they backpackers? Are they interested in a specific city or region?
You can customise the search boxes with pre-selected filters that include traveller type, property type and star rating. It’s also possible to redirect travellers to specifically designed landing pages related to individual regions, cities, landmarks, airports, etc.
So, for example, if your blog is aimed at backpackers, you might want to pre-select “hostels” as an accommodation type. And if your blog is focused on cycling in northern Italy, you could pre-select a filter that only includes properties in that area.
That way, you can make sure your users get results that are tailored to their interests and intent – and that they won’t waste time scrolling through properties that aren’t relevant to them.
This approach will increase the chances of them making a booking – in fact, our experimentation shows that search results showing specific property types convert better than non-filtered searches.
Where should I put the search box on my website?
The search box can be placed anywhere on your site, but we recommend that you put it on pages where the content is a logical jumping-off point for a property search. Pages where you promote a particular destination, activity or property, for example.
We’d also recommend putting a box on your homepage, just in case users already know what they’re looking for.
In terms of where exactly to put it on the page, it’s always best to separate the search box from your actual content. We recommend placing it at the top of the index page, on either the left or right-hand side. Otherwise, it might never be seen by the user, and you might miss out on commission.
How else can I customise my search box?
To get the most out of your search box, it’s not only filters and positioning that you need to think about.
Our search boxes can be customised by language, size, font, logo position, heading and colour – all aimed to get as many people clicking through as possible. Below, you’ll find some things to consider when designing yours.
When it comes to size, you have two alternatives:
- You can choose the ‘Responsive’ option, from the ‘Choose a size’ menu. This will automatically adjust the search box to fit any screen size.
- Alternatively, you can choose one of the sizes available in the Search Box Builder. These have been designed to have an optimal width-height ratio, based on a lot of past experiments. Choose a width that fits your layout and avoid customising it too much.
The perfect size is one that makes the search box easily visible without interfering with the user experience. Here’s a guide to help you choose your size:
Header and subheader
The same way a catchy headline attracts attention to a newspaper article, a good header and subheader can attract bookers to your search box.
If your website is focused on a specific accommodation type, such as B&Bs, customise the headline to reflect this: “Search for the perfect B&B from over 300 properties”.
Colours are very important. Generally speaking, you should use colours that make the search box stand out from the rest of the page. There are two techniques:
- If you want to complement, use colours that already exist on your site, but don’t exactly match the background where the Search Box is placed.
- If you want to contrast, choose colours that stand out against the background of your site. A contrast is always the most eye-catching, so we recommend using a style with the Booking.com palette: a yellow background with a blue button.
In summary, search boxes can be a very useful tool to take users from your website onto pages where they’re likely to make a booking. The more people you can get to make that booking, the more commission for you – so it pays to get it right.
Here’s a quick break-down of our main tips and tricks:
- Use the search box on the index page of your website, the page that gets most visitors.
- Integrate your search box into a Booking.com Iframe, so you are able to track how well it converts via the Partner Centre.
- If you’re promoting a destination or cater to a particular traveller type, pre-select it in your search box so your users will see results that are relevant to them. The fewer clicks they have to make, the higher the chance of them making a booking.
- Make the search box stand out on your page, and make sure it’s got the Booking.com logo on it. Our experiments have shown that Booking-branded widgets convert better.