When you work for a government institution, your district or council’s website may not be the first thing on your mind. You probably have 85 tasks to complete at once, and optimizing your website is likely to drift further and further down the list. You likely know that your website is important: that a well-designed website can get accurate information to your constituents quickly and effectively. But when you’re trying to balance an entire government’s priorities, it can be difficult to find the time to sit down and transform your website.
Enter site search. You may not have thought of it but improving your site search can be a highly impactful way to improve your website’s performance. Whether you currently work with an independent site search platform or you get your site search through your CMS, upgrading your search offering is a great way to get your constituents the information they need when they need it.
Read on for the top three ways quality site search can impact your institution.
Make Your Website Easier to Use
Here’s the first and most obvious effect of investing in a higher quality site search: improving your website performance! Higher quality site search platforms, like Cludo, come with increased search relevance. Relevance is the measure of how pertinent results are to a given query. Enterprise search platforms like Cludo consider hundreds of factors when determining relevance, including semantic signals, linguistic signals, publish date, and length.
But what does improved relevance mean for your website (and in turn, your organization?)
Improved relevance, for a government website, really means improved trust.
If your constituents come to your website, search for a term like “taxes”, and are unable to find any information on how to pay their council tax, they are likely to leave your website and maybe never return. But if your constituents are consistently able to quickly find what they’re looking for on your website, it will reinforce the idea that your council is a source of trustworthy information.
Site search can also prove to be an effective stopgap before a major website project becomes necessary: a full redesign. Government websites are often stacked full of information both timely and not, and sometimes you may come to a point where your website is no longer user-friendly and needs to be totally overhauled.
But website redesigns are exhausting and time-consuming. Implementing higher quality site search can be a way to delay or at least mitigate a site redesign, since it will allow users to find what they’re looking for even if your navigation or home page is outdated.
Save Your Institution Time
So we’ve discussed how improving your site search can ultimately improve your website. But how else can a quality site search affect your business? Well, how about saving you time supporting your constituents? That’s right, a high-performing site search can take the place of customer support phone calls. Now that’s a new idea!
A Forrester report from 2017 showed that 53% of online adults are likely to abandon their online goal if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
Imagine how that number may have grown since then as Internet adoption increases!
Your users don’t want to call you to get their questions answered: they do it only when their other options for information have failed. By improving your site search, your users will be able to find answers to common FAQs (parking, trash, property laws) without calling your office. This scores two victories: your constituents can find the information they’re searching for, and you can use your staff’s time on more productive tasks than walking a user through the website.
In 2019 three of the most popular search topics for government websites (as researched by Cludo) were “planning application”, “blue badge”, “housing, and “council tax.” Imagine how much your call volume could decrease if even just these topics could be easily and quickly found on your website.
With a site search solution like Cludo, machine learning will help your search learn from every search and get relevant the most people use it. You will also have greater manual control over your search results. If you’re entering into tax season, you can use a unique feature like Banners to place a large call-to-action to the relevant information at the top of search results.
Basically, the question is: why do work your search can do for you?
Get to Know Your Constituents
We’ve discussed how site search can transform both your website and your day-to-day customer support experience. But what about longer-term effects? Quality site search can impact more than just the short-term: it can help you better understand your constituents and what is important to them.
Enterprise search platforms like Cludo contain detailed Analytics on what people are searching for, how often, and where they end up after completing a search. Data like this can help you determine what topics you may need to invest more resources into.
If your users are consistently searching for holiday details or other time-sensitive information, maybe your website needs a banner you can change out with the time of year. If users are consistently searching for information on how to pay parking tickets, maybe you need to move parking to a more prominent section of the website.
Even more interestingly, search analytics can help you decide what content to write next. Unless you have a large staff or a massive budget you may not have an opportunity to do research about what really interests your constituents. But your site search analytics can give you that insight!
You can check your most common search terms for what words may be trending among users, and you can check your ineffective searches for what queries are not currently resulting in clicks. Combining this information will help you determine what content to add to your website next, or what edits may need to be made to your navigation.
You deserve a better site search experience
Ready to take the next step into site search greatness? Request a free demo of Cludo’s platform to talk to one of our friendly, government-experienced sales representatives today.