How London Borough of Bexley Shifted to a Resident-Focused Website


From local elections to holiday programmes, the London Borough of Bexley heavily relies on its website to keep the public informed.


When the council’s former search solution wasn’t delivering the results they needed, the team at Bexley opted for a more dynamic and straightforward solution, Cludo.


Through optimising their search, Bexley has not only streamlined the digital experience, but they are constantly learning from their residents’ searches to improve their website.

At the heart of every community is its residents, and the London Borough of Bexley is no exception. From local elections to holiday programmes, Bexley relies on its website to keep the public informed. When looking to better engage with and serve its nearly 250,000 residents, the borough turned to Cludo for its site search needs.

Local council with a large impact

London Borough of Bexley is one of 33 London boroughs and borders Kent in the South East of London. The council focuses on serving and meeting residents’ needs and uses its local government website to promote services such as waste and recycling, parking, council tax and libraries, as well as inform visitors on seasonal events in the community.


"People go to the website to do something. They want to find out when their bin is being collected or want to apply for a planning application. They're not coming to us to browse, they're coming for a particular reason.” says Julie Baker, Senior Digital Officer at Bexley.

“Everything we do is about the resident. Finding information quickly and easily. And making sure the content that is on the website is easy to understand and allows the resident to do what they need as quickly as possible."

When the council’s former search solution wasn’t delivering the results they needed, the team at Bexley opted for a more dynamic and straightforward solution, bringing them to Cludo.

The impact of search on content strategy

Being a Cludo customer since 2017, the team at Bexley has analysed their search performance and data for quite some time. With that data, they have reformed how content is prioritised to ensure it is reaching the right audiences.

In previous years, the website heavily focused on promoting Bexley’s various service areas. The content strategy was to publish an abundance of information on the website as opposed to specific, pinpointed information. The result of those efforts was an influx of phone calls and enquiries to the Contact Centre team.

After looking into their search data, the digital team moved from a website focused on services to a website with specialised content. Content geared towards residents and their exact needs proved to be the missing piece.

"When you create content, this is what you need to bear in mind: You're listening to the residents,” says Julie. “You can tell what it is they want to know and create the content around that rather than basing it on what we want to tell them."

With call volume down, the team at Bexley shifted their focus towards optimising and improving their overall search.

Using Cludo’s tools to enhance the digital experience

The digital team at Bexley has leaned into Cludo’s tools to continually enhance the digital experience on their website. With features like Update Content, the team can quickly adjust search results whenever a page is added or deleted – keeping content relevant and searchable from the beginning.

One of their most utilised tools is the Page Rankings feature. Members of the digital team will even test their own search periodically to see if any Page Rankings need to be adjusted.

"Personally, I use search a lot even though I know where things are on our site,” says Julie. “It's good to sometimes use the search because then you get the user experience. If it's not bringing up what it should be, we can tweak the Page Rankings in order for users to get the information they need."

Controlling seasonal and timely content
Being a local council, they often have seasonal content residents are seeking, from back-to-school information in September to council tax in April. When the team knows a certain page will be getting traffic, they turn to Instant Suggestions to control what every user sees as soon as they perform a search.


Instant Suggestions on Bexley's site

This feature, in addition to Banners, has come in handy for unforeseen events the team needs to act quickly on. This past year, the borough experienced a waste contractor strike. Such an event affects the entire community, and the Bexley team knew they had to relay the message. After creating a dedicated ‘FAQ’ page, they were able to direct residents to this time-sensitive information before they started typing and through eye-catching Banners at the top of their search results. As a result, this became the most popular page on the website and significantly reduced further contact in to the Council’s Contact Centre.


Banners help highlight time-sensitive information

Getting residents where they need to go
There are often instances where visitors are seeking content that isn’t housed on the Bexley site, such as adult education courses put on by a local facility or information on another external government site (such as GOV.UK). In these instances, Quicklinks come in handy. By sending residents directly to these sites, they can streamline the visitor experience and quickly get them where they need to go.


Bexley utilises Quicklinks to direct visitors exactly where they need to go

Analysing user intent to fill content gaps
Through analysing their Intents, the team discovered multiple searches for the term “smoke control areas” with no results returned. To learn more, Julie turned to Google and GOV.UK, whose results said, “To learn more, visit your local council website.” Knowing there was no existing content on the Bexley site about smoke control areas, the team found a crucial content gap that needed filling.

By looking into their visitor search patterns they were able to notify their content teams and get that information on the site, ending the cycle of visitors going from their site to Google and back.

Streamlining the experience for internal and external audiences

Enabling residents and internal teams to do things as seamlessly as possible is what it is all about at Bexley. Through updating and adjusting, the team has appreciated how their search solution is intuitive and user-friendly.

“Cludo's software is very easy to understand.” says Lee Handy, Senior Digital Officer at Bexley. “It is a really useful and simple interface to use. It’s not there for the sake of it, it helps the residents.

Through optimising their search with Cludo, London Borough of Bexley has not only streamlined the digital experience, but they are constantly learning from their residents’ searches to improve their website.

"The users are informing what's on our website, not the other way around.”

Improving the digital experience is simple with Cludo.
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