From an email we received yesterday from WhiteHouse.gov:
“There are nearly 2,000 top-level web domains across the Federal Government. While many of these sites provide taxpayers with valuable services and information, this proliferation of separate websites creates unnecessary confusion and inefficiency, wastes taxpayer dollars, and makes it difficult for the public to find important government information and resources.”
We totally agree with this assessment. A search on childhood obesity limited to .gov domains gives 156,000 results from state and federal agencies as varied as the FCC, the CDC, and the USDA. This is just one example of how challenging it can be for consumers to quickly find information online from the Federal Government.
In an attempt to rein in content on federal Web sites, the White House has put a moratorium on new .gov domains. Meanwhile, the Campaign to Cut Waste is reviewing all existing federal Web sites and developing a plan to consolidate or shut down enough sites to cut the total number of sites in half over the next year.
This is an ambitious undertaking. But it does not address the underlying challenge that got the Feds in this mess in the first place:
How do government agencies create useful, timely, and relevant content without clogging up search engine results with redundant results?
The answer? With good content strategy, of course! Content strategy can help answer questions like:
- What content do we already have?
- What content do we need?
- How will people find our content?
- Who’s in charge of the content?
- How will content be maintained?
- How will we know when it’s time to update or remove content?
We concede that content strategy takes some work. It’s much easier to start with a clean slate, write some brand new content, borrow from existing content, package it all up with bright colors and slap a .gov URL on the end. But until federal agencies start cultivating and caring for the content that they already have, the government will continue to waste money churning out redundant content that the public can’t find and federal agencies can’t maintain.