Why site search is critical for government authorities

An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy, but for that to be true, it’s important that your residents are able to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Government websites often consist of hundreds or even thousands of pages devoted to serving the diverse needs of citizens, government officials, staff and other visitors. Each of these groups has specific needs that need to be addressed, which is why giving them the easiest pathways to relevant information is vital.

The cost of not providing easy paths to relevant content can be significant. If website visitors aren’t able to find what they’re looking for, administrative staff and customer service teams at government authorities, which serve large volumes of people, can become increasingly overwhelmed with incoming phone calls and email requests.

This is where our site search partner comes into the picture. Sahil Merchant, Marketing Director at site search and content enablement solutions company, Cludo, explains why site search is vital to government authorities.

Why site search matters

Site search is more than just a search engine on your government website. It’s also a source of valuable insights into what website visitors are interested in finding. When your content is easily found on your site, you can then spend more time ensuring that it’s the right content and that is has a user-friendly experience for your site visitors.

This is vital for authorities to be aware of, due to the vast amount of citizens being served with numerous different needs. It also frees up staff members to be able to make contact via the phone or through one-to-one contact with citizens who may be physically unable to use your website, including vulnerable citizens.

Since your website is a digital extension of your authority, engaging with your users should be your highest priority. An effective way of achieving this is through an optimised site search platform.  

Want to find out what your users are searching for? Want to give them a better experience online? Contact us today to find out more about our partnership . and integration with site search and content enablement solutions, Cludo.

Creating easy paths to relevant content

Due to high volumes of site traffic and content, most authorities usually already have some type of site search already implemented.

However, given that some search platforms may not provide more modern functionality and Google Search Appliance requires replacement due to it reaching its end of life this year, government authorities are currently looking to upgrade to the next generation of internal search for their sites.

What you really need is a solution that offers machine learning to deliver relevant search results, whilst also appreciating that website owners sometimes have a better sense of what’s important to the visitors of specific government sites

You also need the ability to easily modify and tweak the rankings of search terms suggested by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven ranking system.

 

Finally, you need to ensure your search platform is able to index PDF and Word files, so your site users can find them with ease.  

Optimising content with search analytics

Site search analytics is a powerful tool for any organisation.

To put it simply, site search queries are visitors on your website speaking to you. Behavioural data allows you to understand the immediate needs of your audience and this detailed analytics enable you to further cater to your website visitors by giving them the content they need. This means that content can not only be found, but the content exists on your website in the first place.

In the context of government websites, visitors may search for a specific set of housing regulations. If information pertaining to the regulations are difficult to find, it’s possible that it’s either hidden or it doesn’t exist.

This should be a red flag for any website owner that actively monitors online activity. If your website visitors are searching for content that doesn’t exist, this gap needs to be filled. Furthermore, the corresponding department that handles the regulations should also be notified if users are unable to find this information.

Your site analytics will keep you updated if such a scenario were to occur on your website, whereas your regular analytics will not.

On the other hand, if certain topics start to trend on search, you’ll be able to predict the next set of issues facing your citizens or get ahead of the problem. If a search term starts to trend that has a negative impact, such as an issue with road safety or sanitation, it’s a valuable opportunity to get ahead of it and address it in a timely manner.

Creating more accessibility

Tackling the necessity of accessibility is essential for any site, especially in the case of government websites that serve citizens with a variety of disabilities and impairments.

Ensuring that all aspects of your site are accessible to all users should be a top priority, especially now that new accessibility legislation and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 updates are in force.

Website visitors that have disabilities or impairments should be able to look up content, documents and forms, find necessary departments and contacts and have access to important regulations and notices without any barriers.

Search is often an easier way to get to that information, rather than navigating through multiple layers of a website. Of course, the search input and results templates should be created to remove any barriers that a person with disabilities and impairments would have to otherwise deal with.

          

Working in partnership with Cludo to create a better online experience

Jadu has partnered with Cludo to bring specialised site search, analytics and content enablement expertise to UK government authorities.

They are trusted by organisations worldwide and has been proven in the UK government market. Since we love our customers in the government space, we’ll let a couple of them have the last word:

Laura Church, Web and Digital Officer, Northampton Borough Council

"Every year, council sites in the UK are rated by an independent agency. The person rating our site gave the site search 4 stars out of 4 and gave some really excellent feedback about the quick links! I have used many different search portals over my career, but Cludo is by far the best. It is so easy to use and the support from you and your team has been absolutely fantastic. Because the product is so simple and has so much functionality, it really does help me to manage our customers’ searches and make sure their time on our website is as stress-free as possible.”

Lisa Beckett, Website and Business Development Manager, Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames and London Borough of Sutton

“Sutton scored a 4 in its ‘BetterConnected’ review this year and we couldn't have achieved that without Cludo. We have achieved the highest possible score for search and navigation, which has contributed to our overall performance! Thank you so much for all your support and we look forward to having two 4 star sites next year.”

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The official Jadu Blog (a peek inside). The musings and magic of the Jadu team and log of new web apps, customer super hero stories and mobile web marvels.

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