Is The Search of Municipal Websites Not Working?

I have a unique sort of view on municipal websites. So I not always sure that I am a fair customer as I view 250+ cities at any one time. But I do have a chance to compare lots of things with websites that have very common websites. With that said I started doing design study community development like I did for parks. And to start to narrow the study down I needed to better understand the Meta-Mission of “community development”. So I wanted to find several sites that would help me define that idea. Using the menu system of each site is a very way to get that first hand full. But the search engines, they should get me to the information quickly and directly. Well that was my premise but that tended to be not true. First thing that I did was determine a good Index term (a term used as a keyword to retrieve documents in an information system such as a catalog or a search engine) that would most likely be close to the mission that “Community Development” would do. The word that I used was “Land Use.”

I know that this would not be full proof but I did not want it to be full proof. The term “land use” is a natural part of language, subject areas like public works and parks also use the term differently then Community Development so I thought the term would be a good use of the search functions of a Municipal Website. So I started keeping track of the type of results that I got. What would be the challenges for using a valid key word to find departmental information.

First the good news about 28.5% of the sites (57/200) got me where I wanted to be clearly.

Next some search, 12.5%(25/200) got something close or worked right but the content looked suspect.

Problems Start Here
Close to ten percent (23 of 200) had no search engine at all. Since Google custom Search engines give free (and ad free) search results to government agency and it is a cut and paste operation. No municipal website should be without a search function.

18.5% (37/200) gave false positives or pages on the website but were nowhere close to getting me to the community development section of the website.

20.5% (41/200) Wrong Document types — a majority of successfully completed search go to a webpage not a word document or a PDF. Several site searches gave no webpage so the bais of the search app seems to be off.

2.5% (5/200) search produced no real information just a URL with poor readability and every title of every page is the the same.

2.5% (5/200) just no results there is a search that ran but nothing was returned.

1.5% (3/200) Use of a 3rd party products that gave very poor results sometimes not even from the city.

2% (4/200) was broken


successfully References are being held back for another blog post.

False Positives for me maybe not for you.”&query=Land+Use&x=13&y=9”land+Use”&sa=Search”land%20Use””land%20Use””land+Use””land+Use”&submit.x=22&submit.y=8&submit=search”land+Use””land%20Use””land+Use”&maxFiles=25”land+Use”&Action.x=0&Action.y=0”land+Use””land+Use”&btnG=Search&site=default_collection&client=COV01&proxystylesheet=COV01&output=xml_no_dtd”land+use”&Go=Go”land+use”&maxFiles=25”land%20use””land+use”&x=0&y=0”land+use”&Action.x=25&Action.y=9;;;;&q=”land+use”&btnG=Search&”land+Use”&maxFiles=25”land+Use”&sa.x=24&sa.y=9&sa=Search”land+Use”&btnG=Google+Search&safe=vss&cof=L:;LW:100;LH:94;AH:center;GL:0;BGC:%23FFFFFF;BIMG:;&domains=”land+Use”&search.x=25&search.y=10&search=Search”land+Use”&sa=Search&;GL:1;DIV:%23336699;VLC:663399;AH:center;BGC:FFFFFF;LBGC:336699;ALC:0000FF;LC:0000FF;T:000000;GFNT:0000FF;GIMP:0000FF;FORID:1;&hl=en”land+Use”&Action.x=12&Action.y=7”land+Use”&Submit=Search

What is with all the PDF’s / DOCs I know I am not ready for those yet.”land+Use”&sa=Search”land+Use”&btnG=Go&site=default_collection&client=default_frontend&getfields=description&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&numgm=5&ud=1&ie=iso-8859-1&oe=iso-8859-1”land+Use”&sa=GovSearch”land+Use”&sa=Search!”land+use”&sa=Search”land+use”&maxFiles=25”land+use”&maxFiles=25”land+use”&submit.x=11&submit.y=13&submit=search “land+use”&btnG=GO&site=default_collection&client=default_frontend&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd”land%20use”″land%20use””land+use”&btnG=Search&safe=vss&cof=L:http://;AH:center;GL:0;BIMG:http://;&”land+use”&sa=>”land%20use”&btnG=Search&site=my_collection&client=my_collection&proxystylesheet=my_collection&output=xml_no_dtd”land+use”&restrict=&ie=&site=RaleighNC&output=xml_no_dtd&client=RaleighNC&lr=&proxystylesheet=RaleighNC&oe=”land+Use”&btnG=Search”land+use”&sa=Search”land+Use”&x=48&y=9”land+Use”&btnG=Google+Search&”land+Use”&domains=!”land+Use”&go.x=20&go.y=13&domains=”land%20Use”&client=Independence&site=Independence&proxystylesheet=”land+Use”&btnG.x=23&btnG.y=13&btnG=Google+Search&ie=&site=HAYWARD&output=xml_no_dtd&client=HAYWARD&lr=&proxystylesheet=HAYWARD&oe=UTF-8”land+Use”*”land%20use””land+use”&cx=015532021538773750246:gzcdp3rnoy4&cof=FORID:11”land+use”&as_dt=e&”land+Use”&B1=Go&QUERY_ENCODING=UTF-8&CFGname=MssFind.cfg&ALLCATS=X&EN=X&NO_DL=X”land+Use”&sa=Search”land+Use””land+Use”&sa=Find+It!”land+Use”&btnG.x=14&btnG.y=12&site=CivicPlus&client=cp_frontend&proxystylesheet=cp_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd

search produced no real information just a URL every title of every page is the the same.”land+use”&go=search”land+Use”&Submit=GO

just no results”land%20use””

not results from the city? Pittsburgh uses some secondary brand called clusty and it is not giving the city’s result”land+use”&tb=link2us&submit=Search

Pasadena TX uses Atomz? which is pumping more ads then Search Results

Athens Ga uses gigablast with very poor results.”land+Use”&submit2=search

Key word are not really Key word, Just any two word that are close to each other and have be index.


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