The Obama Administration’s recently announced Campaign to Cut Waste’s Web Reform initiative has prompted quite a bit of discussion about how agencies can most efficiently and effectively reduce government websites by almost 2,000. In his post “It’s Not Just Domains and Data – Content, Analytics Key for Fed Web Reform,” Mike Rupert, discusses the importance of using search engine optimization techniques to surface the important information available on government websites. Mike brings up the important concept of user-driven editorial decision-making.
When I was Director of Strategy & Business Development at washingtonpost.com in the early 2000′s, I remember being part of strategic discussions about whether Editorial–as keeper of the public trust–should continue to drive content decisions in an emerging (at the time) age in which website analytics could provide user preferences in real-time. In short: should we give them what we know is good for them or should we step down off of the pedestal and just give them what they want?
Like the shift on news sites from editorial to user-driven content, government’s web content managers are now faced with this same strategic decision. Just because an agency website has been designed and maintained to convey the agency’s mission, no longer means that that website must exist. Web Reform necessarily shifts agencies away from policy-required websites to priority-driven websites.
What people search for on government websites draws a map of their priorities and interests. Agencies can use these search queries as strategic guideposts to prioritize their content. In fact, all agencies have access to free search tools for their sites at Search. USA.gov) to drive their Web Reform efforts.
As with most things Internet, I would imagine that an 80/20 Rule applies to website searches: 80% of the queries will likely be for 20% of the content. Agencies that can harness the power of this queried 20% will have a road map and business case for their web reform decisions.