Make it SEO: A Practical Search and Findability Audit for Intranet Content

In Search of Search, Part 3

In a Nutshell: If we can agree that search is the heart of your intranet, then a findability audit—i.e. determining how easy it is to find a specific piece of content—is akin to its annual health checkup. For part three of this series, Ephraim has designed a step-by-step guide that will walk you through optimizing your content to make it as findable—and as functional—as possible

BEFRIENDING SEARCH

To most intranet owners, the term “intranet search” sounds pretty ominous. But ominous with good reason: the unavoidable association with the Godfather of search—a.k.a. Google—makes intranet search sound convoluted and complex. It sounds like it might need a dedicated team of IT techies and a data scientist whose sole purpose is to tweak algorithms to optimize performance and results. It sounds, well, hard. Right? Wrong. It’s really not very difficult at all.

IMPROVE THE CONTENT, IMPROVE THE SEARCH

As mentioned, it’s easy to get lost in the assumed complexities of search. But it’s also easy to overcome those assumptions and get comfortable with it. Look at it this way: search is simply the ability to find what you need to help you achieve a specific task. In fact, good search should look as simple as this: click inside search box> type query> [relevant content] bubbles to the top of results> “click”. See, simple!

That said, there are many factors that contribute to making search “good” and one of those factors is the ever increasing cache of intranet-specific search queries that are carried out by your employees.

Continue reading...

Embracing the Journey: 9 Tips for Managing and Improving Intranet Search

In Search of Search, part 2

In a Nutshell: “Search Functionality” may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an intranet, but an intranet without search would be like the internet without Google – fundamentally less functional. In part two of this series, Ephraim delivers 9 tips that will optimize your intranet’s search capabilities.

BEYOND THE BOX

While you may not notice it, the search experience goes beyond the search box. Way beyond. Way, way beyond. In fact, the search experience runs so deep that it’s functionality is comparable to the chassis of a car: it may not be super sexy, it probably won’t win any awards, most folks will never understand or appreciate how critical it is, but without it, everything will fall apart.

Given such a high degree of importance (importance that will be reinforced over the course of this piece), you’d think that optimizing your intranet for search would be super complex… just look at how many people Google needs to make their search solution work! Well, good news: a measured amount of focus and rigor will allow you to achieve search nirvana in no time at all. And it starts with something you already have: content.

INTRANET SEARCH: WHERE CONTENT IS STILL KING

While your search setup may be technically on-point, delivering a great search experience is impossible without some good ole fashioned content. “Wait, what?” I hear you say. “But I thought that…..?” Yes, you’re right: content no longer holds the throne when it comes to optimizing your customer-facing online outlets, but when it comes to your inward-facing intranet—and as we discuss throughout this series—content still wears the crown; well-written, well-structured, fully-optimized content.

Continue reading...

Feeling Lucky? 13 Key Features & Practices for Managing Intranet Search

In Search of Search

In a Nutshell: As sure as water’s wet and days are long, content—in the broadest sense of the word—is the very heart of the intranet. Perhaps less obvious but no less factual is that search (think: Google) makes that heart beat. The same holds true for your intranet; an instance with poor search functionality is akin to a Google-less internet… it just, won’t, work, properly. But fear not, we’re here to help. In this 3-part content series Ephraim Freed, internal-comms expert-in-chief—the expert’s expert—looks at how to optimize the search functionality of your intranet. In Part 1, he details 13 critical features that deliver on the technical side of search management and the search interface.

First Things First

Fact: most organizations will face challenges around the search functionality of their intranet. But just as all challenges are little more than opportunities in disguise, search can become an indispensable resource (and, dare we say, a magical experience) for your employees; all you need is a solid set of features and a solid set of best practices to guide the way.

In this post, we’ve compiled a set of search-centric features that will boost productivity and refine your intranet experience. If search is about the destination, actually managing how that search functions is all about the journey, and the following features will help make that journey an infinitely more satisfying one.

Centrally Managing Search Results

1: “Best bets” for intranet search results
“Best bets” (similar to, but better than Google’s “I’m feeling lucky”) will ensure that the most relevant pieces of content are bubbled to the top of your search results.
Continue reading...

Recorded Webinar: Introducing ThoughtFarmer 8.5 Sangria!

Register for the webinar to see how ThoughtFarmer 8.5 Sangria adds flavor to your intranet.

Add flavor to your intranet — introducing ThoughtFarmer 8.5 Sangria!

ThoughtFarmer 8.5 helps your employees take charge of their productivity. We’ve enriched the platform with a cocktail of features that make it easier for employees to find the people and content they need to get their jobs done.

In this 30-minute webinar, presented by our awesome Director of Customer Success, Carolien Dekeersmaeker & friendly Sales Director, Amol Gill, you will:

  • Get a live tour of the latest features.
  • Learn how a social intranet can improve employee productivity.
  • Have the opportunity to get your questions answered by our experts!

 

This webinar is now complete, you can view the recording here:

Continue reading...

Intranet Tip: Four New Reasons for Your Employees to Engage the Intranet

In brief: Looking for fresh content ideas to revitalize your intranet and boost engagement? Learn about four new things you can include.

DRIVE TRAFFIC WITH FRESH CONTENT

It’s no secret that the key to a successful intranet is populating it with content employees want to read. So whether you are looking to revitalize your intranet with new content or are seeking ways to increase engagement, we have four ideas to help you drive more traffic:

  • Job postings: Posting open positions on your intranet gives those eager to grow within the organization an opportunity to see what’s available.
  • Company success stories: Celebrating company or team wins is a great way to boost morale and performance. Publish them on the intranet so everyone can share in the success.
  • Events: Whether it’s an internal event or something going on in the community, put them in a calendar on your intranet to create some awesome team-building opportunities.
  • Humour section: The intranet doesn’t have to be all business. Create a section where employees can share funny gifs, videos, memes or jokes to give everyone a laugh during downtime.

Continue reading...

Intranet Tip: Why an Intranet Naming Contest is More than Just Crowdsourcing a Name

In brief: A naming contest is a great way to help employees build a connection to the intranet, keeping them engaged after launch.

ENGAGE EMPLOYEES EARLY ON

Creating an emotional connection to the intranet is one way to keep employees engaged long after launch. Central 1 held a naming contest to get staff invested right from the get-go. After a few selection rounds (all moderated via the intranet) Beacon was chosen. But crowdsourcing a name did more than just create a unique identity, it helped garner user buy-in and fostered a sense of ownership.

Initiatives like this contributed to an eight percent increase in company-wide employee engagement. Want to find out what other amazing things Central 1 accomplished with their intranet? Read the full case study.

Continue reading...

A simple way to approach intranet governance

Governance is sometimes a scary word. It is often misinterpreted as a set of borderline Orwellian policies and procedures, when in reality it is little more than a set of shared values; it simply allows a company to track and manage the things it is supposed to.

At ThoughtFarmer, we see governance as overseeing an intranet after launch so as to ensure all employees are on the same page.

More than a set of official policies and procedures, governance does involve such things as training users, monitoring activities, collecting data. And a well thought-out model can be the difference between long-term success and eventual failure.

Why intranet governance is important

Trevor Allen, ThoughtFarmer’s senior user experience designer and resident governance expert says, “a social intranet is a way to cultivate an engaged culture and governance ties into employee and customer engagement”.

A well-defined governance structure can help overcome three common intranet governance roadblocks: politics, a lack of clear purpose and a lack of data. Furthermore, adoption can be difficult without an intranet strategy supported by governance processes, and sometimes roles and responsibilities change after an intranet project becomes a program. Finally, having a governance structure in place can help minimize confusion if intranet managers change or executive sponsors move on after launch.

ThoughtFarmer’s governance approach

ThoughtFarmer helps clients roll-out successful intranets by starting governance conversations early on in the project phase. This approach ensures that we can get the right people and right processes in the right place and at the right time for launch.

Continue reading...

How to Create Useful Intranet Content

Employees visit an intranet with a purpose. Whether it’s getting HR information, reading the latest company news story or learning a “how-to”—people use the intranet to accomplish tasks. Creating useful content that’s accurate, relevant, and well-organized saves people time by making it easier to get what they need from a page and carry out business tasks more effectively.

So what does useful content look like? Here we’ve outlined some fundamental ways to make your page content useful, and drive up the value of your intranet.

Useful intranet content has a purpose

Useful intranet content is:

  • Focused on specific tasks. The content addresses a specific need of a group of employees
  • Clear and simple. The content is stripped of unnecessary material, presented in simple language, and makes a clear point.

Asking “why does this page exist?” can surface the core tasks related to a page of content and can help you understand employees’ reasons for visiting the page. It can also reveal the content that lacks purpose so you can modify what’s on the page to better meet users’ needs.

To understand why a page exists, you can ask these more specific questions:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What tasks are people trying to complete when they are on this page?
  • What information do people need to accomplish those tasks?
  • What related tasks might people need to accomplish?
  • What related information might people need links to?

All of these questions help to hone in on the purpose of the page. They’ll highlight information you may not have originally considered to include and identify critical content.

Continue reading...

Intranet Tip: Manage Your Brand Assets through the Intranet

Manage your brand assets through the intranet.

In brief: Use your intranet as a centralized space for social media assets to maintain consistent brand messaging.

CENTRALIZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ASSETS

Social media in the workplace isn’t new. Nearly 90% of organizations have harnessed the power of social media for business purposes*. Allete, an energy services provider, uses their intranet as a central repository to collect photos and topics of interest. For anyone who posts on behalf of your organization, this centralized space makes it easy to control and curate content that is in line with your corporate brand.

Continue reading...

Letting go: How I moved from SharePoint to a social intranet

Ilana Friesen has over a decade of communications and intranet management experience. Her experience ranges from traditional platforms, like SharePoint, to social intranets, like ThoughtFarmer. We’re fortunate enough to have her write for our blog.

SharePoint and I had a rocky relationship in the past, but it worked and I was fine with that. It was a decent content management tool, despite the occasional technological glitch. Sure, it wasn’t easy to change page layouts or paste content from other document management sources. And, collaboration happened on separate team sites, making project work clunky at times. But the technology enabled me to review, approve—and essentially control—content before it was published. Being an intranet content approver allowed me to prevent disasters like abstract employee profile photos, awkwardly formatted cafeteria menus, never before seen page layouts, and bizarre witticisms on random pages.

Awhile back I managed a SharePoint intranet used to communicate organizational updates and messages to a complex group of employees. Some were gung-ho about using new technology, while others had a full-on adversity to it. With its lacklustre design and cumbersome features, the traditional intranet was more of a bulletin board than a tool for helping people work better. People hardly used it. When there was talk of upgrading the intranet to help create a culture of openness, collaboration, and community, I was all ears.

Heading into the social intranet unknown

One day I heard some exciting news during a communications team check in—the intranet would be getting a major facelift. The organization was going to adopt ThoughtFarmer’s social intranet software.

Continue reading...