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Why Good Site Search Is Important for Government Websites

Why Good Site Search Is Important for Government Websites

How much time do you and your co-workers spend on support tickets that can be answered on your site? Or struggle with long call queues full of your citizens who want answers to simple questions?

As citizens expect more accessible experiences from government agencies, it’s important that your website has a site search feature that is quick, intelligent, and responsive. Research from McKinsey shows more citizens are feeling frustrated from multi-step websites and speaking to staff to answer questions.

We find that our government customers were struggling with their old search solution, as it could not answer basic questions. Their citizens were calling their support team to ask what day to take the trash out, how to pay a parking fine, or when local events were happening. Questions that should all be answered from a search of your site.

Smart site search gets your users to what they need - without going through your citizen support desk. We crunched the numbers, and for each employee who spends one hour of their day answering citizen questions, that comes to 226 hours per year.

226 hours - quite a lot of time that can be better spent elsewhere, right?

Remember, that’s only one hour per day for one employee - we’ll leave you to do the math for your entire team.

Below we’ve listed some of the key areas where site search for government use cases can increase user satisfaction on your government website to become more citizen-centric.

Instant Indexing

You might be familiar with search engine crawlers already - web search engines (like Google) will periodically visit your site to index any pages you’ve added or changed, and update to the new version in your index.

But there’s a better way. Instant Indexing means any time you create or change a page, it will be reflected in your search index instantly. This means you have a search index that is constantly up-to-date and matches your site content, with zero configuration needed from you.

Gone are the days of manually updating URLs in your search index when you make a change, or adding new pages when you publish one. Every time you change an event time or post an announcement, you can be sure your users will find it from a search on your site instantly.

An example of Instant Indexing code - placing this snippet across all of your pages ensures they update and index in real-time.


Search analytics is a goldmine of user data as it shows audience intent, i.e. what users want to find from your website. Analytics is a great way to shape your site’s content and lets you know what pages you should be creating.

Top Queries show the most popular search terms on your site, with each click-through rate letting you know if users are clicking on the results presented after a search. If a low click-through rate marries up with many requests to your support desk, it’s a great idea to place the matching content on your site.

Unexpected Query reports show search trends over time, and when the volume spikes compared with normal search patterns. Drill down further into search analytics by segmenting query history by location to see where users are searching from, or by individual IP address to see how many individual people are searching for each query.

Top Queries reports show search influxes over time - here you can see how search volumes slowly decreases through the week, and drops off on the weekend.


Boost and exclude rules give you granular control into how your search results are ordered, without needing to manage each individual query and result on a micro level. For instance, you might need to boost local events that are coming up, but restrict events that have already passed.

Similarly, maybe you want to boost search results for local services that are physically closer to each user, rather than showing those that are further away. Boost rules allow sections of your site or even entire subdomains to be boosted or decreased as needed - all controlled from your Console.

Boost rules allow entire search results to be influenced - not just individual queries.


You only really appreciate how bad search engines are when they’re slow. For every second a user has to wait for search results to be returned, the more likely they are to be picking up their phone and calling your support desk. We’ve engineered our platform to be as fast as possible, which is why our average query speed is 0.002 seconds.

In those 0.002 seconds, we not only return the most relevant results, but also apply any synonyms to the search query, autocorrect any misspelled keywords, and apply those boost rules we mentioned before. If there’s one thing that improves a government website immensely, it’s a search that is insanely fast, and delivers on that. search speed is instant - search results are returned before your citizens have even finished typing.

If you’re looking to cut down on support hours, reduce call queues, and give your website users a better experience, it’s time to consider a bespoke search solution. Transform your government website and let your citizens self-serve the answers to their own questions.

You can book a demo with a search expert, or sign up for a free trial and index your site for free.

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