KM Conversations — Using Analytics Part 1: Understanding Search Behavior and Hot Content

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

February 27, 2020

Analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data and text. In this first part of a three-part series, I’ll explain how to understand search behavior and how to determine what content is hot. There will be a companion free webinar on March 25, 2020 (subscription link at the foot of this post).

Understanding Search Behavior

Reviewing the logs of your enterprise search will allow you to get insight into what users are looking for. You can use this information to supply the most frequently searched for terms in your user interface. You can also use it to improve navigation, offer best bets, and seek out and provide missing content. If you have a Knowledge Help Desk, the people who staff this can monitor user searches to better prepare for user requests.

My colleague Lee Romero has written and presented extensively on this topic. He defines a set of basic metrics:

  • Total searches for a given time period
  • Total distinct search terms for a given time period
  • Total distinct words for a given time period
  • Average words per search
  • Top N searches for a given time period
  • Trending of all the above
  • Top Searches over time
  • Seasonality
  • Not found searches
  • Error searches

I recommend that you read his published articles and slide decks:

Blog Posts


Determining What Content is Hot

In terms of knowledge management best practices, there are three steps to establishing the most desirable content for your users. The first is to define the most important topics. The second is to find the most valued existing content for each of these topics. And the third is to figure out what is missing and take steps to add it.

Start by creating a list of the topics of greatest importance to the organization. Then ask key contacts for each topic what content they consider to be the most important and what content should be added. These contacts can be organizational leaders, thought leaders, subject matter experts, community managers, or knowledge managers.

Ask communities for the content they find the most valuable. Also ask which content they most need but is not currently available, and then make efforts to have that content contributed or created.

Review enterprise search logs for the most-clicked-on search results. Review web analytics for the most-visited pages and most-downloaded documents. Review websites and documents that are liked or tagged as useful by users.

Ask all help desks to provide the most frequent queries and replies. Review queries posted in communities, email messages sent to distribution lists, and requests sent to official mailboxes. Look for patterns of missing or hard-to-find content.

Compile lists of:

  • Most visited web pages
  • Most downloaded documents
  • Most liked content
  • Most reused content
  • Most tagged content
  • Most recently published content

Present this information about hot content on relevant intranet pages, in search best bets and answer cards, and as lists that can be easily navigated to from enterprise search, the master index, and other frequently used pages.

In the second part of this series, I will discuss knowledge management best practices related to metrics and reporting.

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

KM expert, consultant and author, Stan Garfield will be presenting e his next KM Conversation for Lucidea on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern—subscribe here to be notified. Stan has compelling information to share, based on his distinguished career as a KM practitioner. Read his posts for our Think Clearly blog, and learn about Inmagic Presto, which has powered the KM  initiatives of many organizations.

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