In the past, georgia.gov had simply pointed the way to information on other websites. But given our new focus on search, we had to make sure that users found the right information quickly.
There were two problems with this approach:
- We couldn’t control the search results from websites that were not hosted with us;
- There may be more than one agency (or search result) with information about a topic. For instance, someone seeking information on starting a business may need information from the Secretary of State’s office and the Department of Revenue.
The solution was to create our own content. We could show users the information they needed to see, direct them to the agency website for more information, and show associated forms, services and documents. And by having access to keywords and metadata, we could also control how the content appeared in search results. Instead of seeing irrelevant content appear at the top of the search results, we could steer users to the right content.
We scoured search logs, call center data and site analytics to find the 50 most popular topics requested by Georgians. We worked with the agencies that dealt with those topics and wrote “profiles” of each topic.
The topics would contain consistent information:
- What citizens needed to know
- Associated agencies, online services and documents
We also created pages for each state agency, also complete with consistent information, as well as pages for each city and county in Georgia (over 600 total).
One thing we were shocked at when looking at our analytics was the number of users looking for information on cities and counties. We are the website for state government, but to the user it didn’t matter. We knew we had to have basic information on all the local governments in Georgia - over 600 - so we created pages that listed basic information.
For new services and features, we relied on the trusted blog format to help us. Unlike our current features, which vanish once they are no longer relevant, blog articles will be archived and indexable. It will continue to give new state services a link that will help it in its Google Page Rank.