The order in which products are shown (when searching or viewing a category) is affected by a number of factors. Below are listed the influencers of product order from most to least influential.
If a shopper on your site selects a sorting option while browsing, this will act as a hard override to everything else. When a shopper selects a sort; all other sorts, boosts, pins, etc. are ignored in favor of sorting on whatever the shopper chooses.
When the top sort is selected again ("Most Popular" in this example), the page goes back to the way it was before the shopper sort was applied.
1. Pinned Products
Assuming there's no shopper sort, the top priority for showing products comes from Pinned products via our Merchandising tools. These products are shown at the top in the exact order that's been set by you in the campaign for this page.
You can see this in Search Preview by looking for the blue pin icon on products, and by looking for "Promoted" on each product while viewing in the Advanced view.
2. Hard Sorts (If Applicable)
Hard Sorts are set up on special request by SearchSpring when there is a sort that is needed to be more important than Search Relevancy itself. A common example is to push all out of stock items to the bottom of listings, regardless of whether they match what the shopper is looking for or not.
(Coming soon) You can see this in Search Preview by looking for "Hard Sorts" on each product.
3. IntelliSuggest Elevations
IntelliSuggest is behavioral customer tracking that we use to push 10 products to the top of the results for your 5,000 most popular search terms, based on the product engagement for each individual search context.
You can see this in Search Preview by looking for the green arrow icons on products, and by looking for "IntelliSuggest" on each product.
4. Relevancy (on searches)
Once hard merchandising and behavioral boosting have been taken care of (above), products are arranged by their Search Relevancy score, which always occurs on searches.
In Search Preview, you can easily see why some products score higher than others by looking at the Search Logic section on each product while in the Advanced view. You can also click on "View details" to find where your search terms matched in the product data.
As of our latest search algorithm (Saluki 2), relevancy is broken down into tiers (or buckets). You can easily see the scores of products and groups that have the same score. In the example above, the first 2 products share a higher score, and the last 2 products share a lower score.
5. Product Boosting Rules
Each tiered group of products from relevancy is then affected by Product Boosting Rules. These rules set by you in our Merchandising tools allow the dynamic re-ordering of products based on specific rules based on your product data.
You can see this in Search Preview by looking at Boosts on each product. Groupings and sub-sorts can both occur here, as illustrated by the dots and sort icons, respectively. Boosts higher in the list are more important, and a boost showing lower is always a tie-breaker for the rule above it. You can also view the boost rules and where they come from in the Sources toolbox.
6. Default Sort
The final tie-breaker when deciding how to sort products is the default sort option set up on your site, which is the top field sort set up on the Sorting page.
You can see this in Search Preview in the Sources toolbox under "Default Sort". To view the values in action, go to the Fields toolbox and show the field from your default sort. ("sales_rank" in this example)
If you have things like boosting rules set up, this usually won't make much of a change on your site. However in cases where there are no pinned products, boost rules, hard sorts, or intellisuggest elevations -- There will be plenty of tied products in search relevancy that could use a helpful default sort order.
On category pages without relevancy, this will be the only thing ordering products if you don't have anything else set up.