Constituent-centered search

Help constituents find your organization and your content.


As Commonwealth content creators, we often share this challenge: We have important information, and the people it’s for don’t always know where to look for it. Sometimes this is because constituents are used to unofficial terms for government programs and services: “food stamps” v. “SNAP benefits,” or “driver’s license" v. "passenger license.”

This happens outside of government, too. Most people don’t know the official names of laptops they buy, for example. But they do usually know who makes them, and they can find them by searching for the product maker.

This is also a challenge for content creators in government, though, since most constituents don’t know which department or agency is responsible for which content. Maybe they recognize the Department of Revenue, but not the Division of Local Services.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do in the CMS to help constituents find you and your content.

Make sure it's the right content type

The most basic thing you can do is make sure that you're using the right content type. For example, if you're using a Service Detail to publish news instead of a News item, your news won't appear when constituents choose the "News" filter. We've listed what content types appear under each filtered search in "How search works."


You’ll find the Organization(s) field at the bottom of the first tab in every content type, and in documents. This field tells’s search which pages belong to which organization. This is relevant whenever a constituent searches within an organization’s content using the filter to the left of the search bar:

We've automatically populated the vast majority of Organization(s) across content. However, since this is such an important field, it’s a good idea to double check that the information in it is correct on your most important and most trafficked pages. ‌ This field also powers the "Offered by" relationship indicator that displays at the top of all pages. "Offered by" displays on the top right if there is a "Part of" relationship indicator on the left in a desktop view, or on the top left if there is no "Part of" link. On a smaller screen like a cellphone, "Offered by" appears directly under "Part of" at the top of the page. ‌ Making sure your Organization field is filled out correctly will help users who land on your content find their way to your Organization Page.

Organization parent

Quick version: You can ensure your content also appears when users filter search results by the organization that’s hierarchically above yours in the state government’s structure. To do this:

  1. Open your Organization Page in “edit.”

  2. Find the Organization Parent field under the “more” tab.

  3. Add the organization whose search results you want your content to be included in.

You should only add state organizations one level above yours. However, if that organization also fills out the Organization Parent on their Organization Page, your content will appear in 3 search filters: for your organization, for your parent organization, and for that organization’s parent organization.

Detailed explanation: You’ll find the Organization parent field in the “More” tab on your Organization Page. This field lets you include your content in searches for a state organization that’s hierarchically above yours, and that is more recognizable to the public. The advantage of this is that constituents won’t need to know exactly which sub-organization owns which content to find what they’re looking for.

To make use of the Organization parent field, you just need to know which organization is directly above yours in the Commonwealth’s hierarchy. We call the organization that is 1 level above yours the “parent organization,” and the one that is 2 levels above yours a “grandparent organization,” and so on. Here’s a visual:

In the image:

  • Secretariat is the “parent” of Departments A, B, and C. If authors at these Departments added Secretariat to each of their Organization parent fields, their content would appear in searches for Secretariat.

  • Department B is the “parent” of Divisions A and B

  • Division B is the “parent” of Board A Secretariat is the “grandparent” of Division B

  • Division B is the “grandparent” of Board A

Imagine that you work for Division B. If you wanted your content to appear in searches for Department B’s content, you would:

  1. Open your Organization Page in “edit.”

  2. Find the Organization Parent field under the “more” tab.

  3. Add Department B.

If you also wanted your content to appear in searches for Secretariat, you would need to ask Department B to add Secretariat to their Organization Page’s Organization parent field.

Here are some real life examples:

  • The Department of Early Education and Care wants their content to appear when users search for the Executive Office of Education (EOE). They would add the EOE Organization Page to their organization parent field.

  • The Bureau of Health Professions Licensure wants their content to appear when users search within the Department of Public Health (DPH). They would add the DPH Organization Page to their organization parent field.

  • Grandparent organization example: The Division of Marine Fisheries wants their content to appear when users search for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). They would add their parent organization, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to their Org Page’s organization parent field. Then, the Department of Fish and Game would add the EEA Organization Page to their organization parent field.

Add your documents to a filtered search

You can make sure that documents appear in one of's other filtered searches, too. To do this:

  1. Find a document in the "All documents" menu.

  2. Edit it by clicking the "edit" button on the right

  3. Scroll down to the category field.

  4. Choose the category you want the document to appear under: News, Laws & Regs, or Services

Note: Some documents won’t fall into any of these categories. To make sure that our filters are as useful as possible for constituents, please choose mindfully.

Was this article helpful?

Tell us what you think button