Ignore intranet statistics at your peril – Lessons learnt from over 200 intranets

A long time ago when we came up with Interact Intranet there were 2 things we thought would be critically important for intranet success

  • We needed an easy way for non-technical users to create content
  • We needed to improve the findability of the content. We wanted content to become easier to find the more the intranet was used (not more difficult)

To measure this success and improve on it one of the features that we knew Interact Intranet had to have was a powerful intranet based statistics and search analytics package. Now 8 years on – here are some of the findings from the 100s of companies and 100,000s users that interact with our intranet software on a daily basis.

In part 1 of this blog we have looked at the intranet search analytics

Those users who prefer to employ the search will leave clues as to their behaviour and expectations, we found that analysing these search statistics to see the words and phrases that are being used was incredibly useful. We could then cross reference these to see if these words are reflected in the labels and titles of documents, if not, consider renaming where appropriate, or at the very least keyword tagging content with these words so that search results are more relevant.

Interacts search analytics stores popular search terms

Frequently searched for terms will also give you a huge steer towards likely “Best Bets.” In the same way that search engines can promote sponsored links you can tag content with a “Best Bet” phrase so that it is promoted at the top of search results.

Take this online brand effectiveness document showing the latest KPIs for one of our bluechip customers. They found that a lot of people were doing a search for ‘performance’ and then taking 2-3 clicks of the search to find the KPI document (which was what over 80% of users were looking for). The intranet manager looked at the search analytics and then added the term “performance” as the Best Bet for this article.

Tag Convergence not Divergence

Recently we worked with a client on analysing their search statistics and then using this to profile their content appropriately. It was apparent that while there was a high volume of documents that had keyword tags, these keywords weren’t the words being used by users when they were looking for information. The stats revealed that they had a high proportion of users that preferred the search so it was crucial that content was set up in a way to successfully deliver relevant search results. It was clear that the authors of content were pulling their keyword choices from a pool of words and that there was little correlation between the words authors selected and the search terms used.

Analysis of the search stats made it possible to inform authors what the most frequent used terms were, so that they can use these as keywords tags as well as in content title and summaries.

Mind the Intranet Gap

Interact also alerts you to the potential content or labelling weaknesses of your intranet by recording those searches that resulted in zero results. This will then let you see where content is missing, or mislabelled or poorly titled.

Reviewing what people actually search for on the intranet is an great way to judge the relevance of the content on the intranet. If they are searching for content and getting zero search results then clearly the intranet is not serving them well and you have an information black hole. Interact Intranet gives you access to those search terms that have zero results, regularly reviewing these can greatly benefit and improve your intranet.

This functionality is used by Prospect Homes; “At our Intranet Steering Group meetings we look at the Searches with zero finds; Documents without keywords; and Failure to find – all help to improve usability and reduce staff frustration trying to locate things quickly.”

Romec explained how they perceived the benefits of the stats, “The failure to find is useful. Also, if a user leaves suggested keywords for a document we will incorporate these, if someone fails to find something and we think we can improve the way that the item can be found, we will notify them and try to understand their mind set when looking for it.”

Affinity Sutton use the search analytics to review the ‘Failure to Find Report’ – “it is checked every week by the Intranet Manager and followed up. They found that a big problem was badly spelt searches. To help resolve this every single person who executes a ‘failed to find’ is replied to, even if it’s just to say ‘you spelt it wrong’. Doing this weekly review means that the Intranet Manager knows if content is missing and is able to react quickly to demands for certain information, getting additional content added or amending/adding keywords to existing documents.”

Bield says “It is useful to check Top items that are being viewed – this is helpful in terms of knowing what users are interested in. Also the summary helps us monitor trends and help us maintain interest in the site”

Other areas of the search analytics that have proven really popular and helped ensure that we keep to our motto of ‘we help content find people’ are;

  • Clients like the ability to see what % of people used the search on a daily basis – as they could then promote it to people that didn’t use it
  • ‘number of clicks to reach a document’ helped authors ensure the intranet architecture and tagging enabled people to find information quickly

Understanding how users think and behave is key to delivering a user-centric and relevant intranet.