Today’s post is the third (and last) in a series about recent enhancements to NARA’s flagship website, Archives.gov.
On average, about 180,000 queries are entered into the search box on Archives.gov each month. Roughly 8-10% of those queries originate on our homepage. What these statistics tell us is that search is a critical pathway for our website users to find the content they are looking for. Since search is such an important tool for connecting our customers with what they seek, earlier this year we implemented a new search technology (DigitalGov Search) with the goal of providing more relevant results.
One of the really useful things about DigitalGov Search is the analytics about how people are using the search. We are able to monitor trending keywords and optimize the results to help people find the best content for their search. For example, we noticed that “Declaration of Independence” is consistently in our top 10 searched terms. But that search query will return 28 pages of results! We curated a “Best Bet” to highlight the most relevant content for people who are just getting started on their search. To date we’ve created several dozen Best Bets and will continue to add more when we see a need based on search usage. Look for the “Recommended by National Archives” denotation at the top of search results pages for curated Best Bets.
With the implementation of DigitalGov Search, we’ve also been able to make our search more comprehensive. You will now find results from our Presidential Library websites and the latest news from our many social media accounts. (In the example above, a recently-published YouTube video is featured.) You can also easily filter your results for images, including those we’ve shared on Instagram and Flickr, or limit results to content from the Presidential Libraries.
In the future, we hope to use the Catalog API to better integrate records into our search results. With millions of potential Catalog results, however, we are approaching this project cautiously so as not to overwhelm our searchers!
Please take the new search for a spin and let us know what you think! Did you receive useful results? What didn’t you see that you expected to? How can we make search work best for you?