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I'm working on a redesign of zero results page and I was just wondering what content I should display, and in which order. The site I'm working on sells courses, both online and classroom-based, across the UK. A large percentage of our traffic comes from Google.

A common search term is: [subject] course in [location]

The problem is that this sometimes leads to zero result search pages. If a user lands on zero results page after searching for a course in a certain location, then we provide a location search box to allow them to search for that course in a different location. We also display the closet results to the searched location, however, these courses can sometimes be up to 200 miles away.

I've also thought about surfacing online courses as an alternative to location-based classroom courses.

My question is which results should I show at the top of the page? The classroom-based courses which potentially could be up to 200 miles away from the original search location, or online courses, which aren't necessarily what the user is looking for, especially if they want a classroom course.

  • ''which results should I show at the top of the page?'' - could we look at your mocks as a reference please? – aly.i.ux Apr 30 at 8:43
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A/B Test It.

You are essentially trying to determine if proximity or content is more important to your users. There are many things that may influence the user's decision, and it may be different depending on the course and where people search from. Typically rural users expect to travel more than city-dwellers.

Also, 200mi is arbitrary. Someone looking to upskill on specialist software may happily take the train from Leeds to London. On the other hand, someone in Belfast wouldn't likely fly to Glasgow for barista training.

Consider Secondary Goals

You may want to consider your other goals from such "near misses", as you may get no bookings from these landing queries.

For example, if your primary product is in classroom courses, you may want to show those first to reinforce that aspect of the brand or steer users into searching for a different course which is closer.

On the other hand, you may want to push an online course which gives you some kind of commission or so the user finds a course they can sign up for immediately.

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