How USAGov uses data to improve content

March 26, 2024   Posted by: USAGov team

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Each month USAGov’s content designers spend many hours ensuring that the content on and USAGov en Español is up-to-date, accurate, and meeting user needs. We do holistic reviews of each topic section based on a rolling calendar with the goal of updating all content at least every 6 months

These reviews include fact-checking our content, making sure all the links work, and double-checking that we are using best practices for plain language and accessibility. We also rely heavily on data such as analytic traffic, search queries, and survey comments to identify user pain points and improve our content. The following mini case studies demonstrate how data led to small changes in our content with big impacts for users.

Survey data leads to improved page score for housing content

Most content pages on and USAGov en Español include a survey at the bottom asking users to rate whether the page was helpful (yes or no response) and an opportunity to leave a comment. A review of housing content in June 2023 showed that our page on Section 8 housing choice vouchers had a low score for page helpfulness, with only 56% of users saying the page was helpful.

One of our content designers delved into the associated user comments and found that several users were expressing frustration because they encountered long waiting lists for the housing voucher program. To address this issue, we added two sentences to help users know to expect possible wait lists and better understand why wait lists are common.

This small change resulted in a dramatic improvement (+16%) for page helpfulness scores in the three months following the change.

Search data improves SEO for Selective Service content

Our content team uses  search data to make sure our content reflects the keywords and phrases people are using to search and to help improve our rankings in search results. We track the search queries that bring users to our content with tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics. And we also use Google Trends to discover and compare general search queries outside of our sites.

When reviewing our section for military and veterans in October 2023, one of our content designers noted that the title of the page “Verify your Selective Service number” did not match the top search terms that bring visitors to our page. A comparison in Google Trends also showed users search on “find” more frequently than “verify” when looking for content in this area.

We updated the page title to “Find your Selective Service number.” This one-word change resulted in nearly triple the number of search impressions in the three months after it was published. Click-through rates also improved (from 3.5% to 4.9%) with an additional 26,747 visits to the page.

Internal search data shows gap in tax content

Looking at searches users complete once they land on our sites can help our content designers identify either information that is difficult for users to find or gaps in our content. When reviewing our Spanish section on taxes last August, one of our bilingual content designers noticed users were searching for information on how to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to file taxes, with the term “ITIN” showing an increase in the number of searches.

Survey data for this same section also showed that our Spanish language audience was looking for information on ITINs – revealing an important piece of the user journey for those filing taxes without a Social Security number. After proposing a new page, the content designer used other search data (Google Trends, Google search results) to find relevant queries, trending keywords, and the language people typically used.  

The new ITIN page launched in Spanish in September (with an English version added a few months later). The Spanish page has seen increasing traffic since launch and a large spike in visits at the start of this year’s tax season. It has also shown high user satisfaction with a 96% page helpfulness score since launch.

Continuing to iterate

While these case studies show how content changes can result in some dramatic improvements in user data, not every change we make has the same result. For example, an SEO change may bring more traffic to a page, but not always result in higher user satisfaction.

Our review cycle is a continual opportunity to discover what brings people to our websites, how they feel about the content they find there, and how we can make that content more effective.

About this Blog

USAGov, and work to make it easier for people to find information from their government about the services they need. Follow our journey and help us learn as we go. 

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