We’ve set up a trending searches dashboard to show search terms that people are looking for more than usual in GOV.UK site search. This can help you to spot emerging or rising user needs and react quickly to make sure people can find relevant content.
As the performance analyst for GOV.UK site search, part of my role is to look at what people are searching for, whether they’re finding what they need, and how we can improve the results. That’s quite a challenge with 1.5 million searches made every week, and more than 150,000 items of content.
We can’t tackle everything at once, so two useful areas to focus on are the searches that are most common so will have the biggest impact, and the searches that are important right now, because of seasonal or topical events.
Why I built this dashboard
I used to look at a weekly analytics report comparing searches in the previous two weeks, but some short-term user needs had already been and gone by the time I saw the weekly data. I wanted a more real-time way to find out if lots of people were searching for something new, so that we could solve any problems as soon as possible.
So I developed this dashboard using Google Sheets to get data from Google Analytics every hour, and then filter it to show only what’s been searched for more today than yesterday or last week or last month, weeding out the searches that are popular all year round.
This gives me an ever-changing selection of trending search terms to monitor, and quickly highlights any new entries. I usually keep an eye on the dashboard throughout the day, and if I notice anything interesting or troublesome, now I can follow it up straight away.
I took some time during our ‘firebreak’ in January to make some improvements so that the dashboard is easier to share and adapt, and I hope you’ll find it useful.
How the dashboard works
See the content design manual for details of how to set up a ‘segment’ for data more relevant to your organisation.
For more detailed information about how the spreadsheet works and how to customise it further, see ‘How to monitor trending searches’ on the Data at GDS blog.