Quantitative Research on Kids.gov

May 31, 2016   Posted by: Marybeth Murphy

As part of USAGov’s efforts to assess and improve Kids.gov, we reviewed a variety of metrics to get a clearer understanding of how visitors have been using the site. This data--in combination with the qualitative research--is helping to guide our recommendations for the website.

The data was pulled from Google Analytics, DigitalGov Search, Google’s Webmaster Tools, Facebook, Twitter, and our email service provider.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the quantitative data we reviewed and what we took from it:

Web Visits and Return Users

We compared Kids.gov visits during the same months of different years (2014-2016) and observed an increasing trend during in-school months with an average increase of 15%. About 27% of visitors were classified as return users. Our overall takeaway was that there is an increasing demand for Kids.gov content.

Pageviews and External Link Usage

In reviewing pageviews and external links, we identified the most and least popular content. We found that sections for teens and teachers were being heavily used while the content intended for parents got relatively low traffic. Lesson plans, videos, games, and subjects covering careers and branches of government got a lot of use. This data also showed us that a huge percentage of external links (about 72%) were rarely clicked, which provided a good argument for drastically reducing  our lists of link.

Traffic Sources

About 61% of traffic to Kids.gov came from search. Other major sources were USA.gov and email subscribers. The site also got a lot of referrals from government sources and education-related entities. The many referrals from individual schools, school districts, classrooms, and libraries reinforced the idea that the audience for Kids.gov is primarily teachers and students.

Device Use

Approximately  15% of Kids.gov users came to the site on a mobile device. This is much lower than on our other sites, which are mobile friendly. Of those who did use mobile devices on Kids.gov, we found that they had a higher bounce rate, visited fewer pages, had shorter visits, and didn’t return as often as desktop and tablet users. These findings verified our belief  that mobile experience on Kids.gov is not a good one; and it supported our intention to make all of our products easily available to visitors from any device.


Data from Google and DigitalGov Search showed a clear difference between what people were searching for on Kids.gov versus what brought them to Kids.gov from Google. Based on the site search queries for terms like “Pok√©mon” and “Pac-Man,” it would appear that those searches were entered by kids or teens. However, the terms that brought visitors to Kids.gov from Google--terms like lesson plans, book report, and science videos--were more likely to be teachers or parents.


We reviewed data on about 600 email messages sent to subscribers over the past two years. Each message was put into a topic bucket. Messages categorized for teachers had the highest open rate, followed by messages on reading and writing. Two of the top three messages included “lesson plan” in the subject line. Emails on  math and online safety had the lowest open rates.

Social Media

We reviewed data on more than 1,400 Tweets, 1,000 Facebook posts, and 80 videos. What held true in email didn’t necessarily hold true for  Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. On Twitter, reading, writing, and math had the highest engagement rate (calculated as: total engagements/impressions). However, one of the highest rated Tweets [about snowflakes] was in the science category.

On Facebook, online safety and math had the highest engagement rate (calculated as: engagement/reach). Art, music, and science had the lowest engagement rates. The Facebook post with the highest engagement rate was about educational video games for kids.

We measured videos by views. A field trip to the money factory ranked #1. Other high-ranking videos were spotlights on careers in archeology, veterinary medicine, and physical therapy.

Next Steps

As we look at this data in combination with survey comments, interviews, market research, staffing, and budget restrictions, we’re developing options and recommendations for Kids.gov. Check in with us again as we share the outcome.

Marybeth Murphy is the Performance Measurement Team Lead for USAGov.

About the USAGov Blog

USAGov is working to create the digital front door for the United States government. Follow our progress and help us learn as we go!

Sign Up for Updates