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Making Your Documentation SEO-Friendly
I like messing with algorithms that rank content according to arcane criteria. Why? Well, because I am great at these sorts of things. So much so that I made it my job. I’m a freelance SEO expert based in Montreal.
Understanding search behaviour
Any search starts with a desire that’s expressed as a query when the visitor types it in a search bar. So this query comes with an expectation of value. When we search for things online, we expect certain results to show up. Value is measured against internal criteria for acceptance. We favour search results that seem to answer our needs or fulfill our desires. People simultaneously process acceptance and rejection criteria for every result on the SERP (search engine results pages).
- It’s where your future customers can learn about your services.
- Where customers can go instead of opening a ticket - without them having to sit on hold waiting for a service rep.
“If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract visitors.” - Google.
Give your customers access to the instant, in-depth information they need and you will be satisfying search intent without having to hire someone like me. Google provides detailed instructions if you want to check them out to know more about how the search engine takes search intent into consideration. The search engine giant even shares internal guidelines for content evaluation.
What are people trying to figure out about your product ?
You can type in Google’s search bar:
- “Your product name” with “how to” -site:yourdomainname.com
- For example, we could search for "serpstat" how to -site:serpstat.com and find everything people want to know how to do with the SEO tool SERPStat outside of the company’s documentation.
Another piece of advice is to check Google Analytics and Google Search Console for good insights. We like to dig in the keywords data that they offer.
- Popular but vague keywords = high volume but low intent - lots of ambiguity. These keywords are TOFU (top of the funnel).
- Rare but specific keywords = low volume but high intent - no ambiguity. These keywords are MOFU (middle of the funnel)
- Long tail = specific terms with 3+ words
- One-ofs = rare queries or a one-time trend
- How-to = tutorial
- Your product + Integration product = Mailchimp and Google Analytics
- Update = tutorials or FAQ pages
Search experience optimization all comes down to making the right first impression. Create an immediate perception of the value of your content through titles, metadata and microdata. You can help Google showcases more than a title and a description for your content. Check out rich snippets available for various types of content (FAQ and Tutorials are great types of content to markup).
Here what you should optimize on each page of your website:
- Optimize your meta tags (title and description)
- Create search engine friendly URLs
- Implement structured data like FAQ or tutorial
- Add internal links
- Include optimized media such as images or videos
Don’t focus only on the content. Address technical issues that can improve your SEO:
- Site speed & Mobile-friendliness
- Crawlability and security
- Submit a sitemap.xml to Google Search Console
- HREF LANG for multilingual support
- Deal with duplicate content
- 301 redirection to handle 404 errors
Content Hierarchy Matters
Search engines consider H1, H2 and H3 tags. Make sure you show a pertinent content structure to humans and bots. Our eyes use titles as anchors to navigate content and bots mimic them a bit. Do not skip heading levels and make sure to use the right words. We recommend using the Web Developer Toolbar by Chris Pederick available for Firefox and Chrome.
Google values internal and external links that point to you. Links are a sign of trust, a bit like your network in LinkedIn. Check Google Search Console to gain insights as to which websites are pointing to you. The same “Links” report also gives you proper information regarding your internal linking. Depending on your website design and your content guidelines, your website is bound to favour some pages over others in terms of how many internal links point to them. Promote your content internally with links and you will be optimizing your user experience and search engine bot experience.
Make sure everything is readable and answers search intent. B.E.R.T. is a technique for natural language processing used by Google. This means that you should write for humans first and foremost since the bot is trying its best to understand content the way humans do.
SEO tip: Feed the Position Zero With Bullet Points and Lists to show up when someone says “OK Google”
Points to get started
- What questions are users asking? Check Frequently Asked Questions in Google search results.
- What issues are they having most with your product? Check with the help desk, read the chatbot transcripts.
- How does your product compare against other products in the industry?
- What does your product do that your competitors don’t?
- What new features are you adding?
- Are there any features that are underutilized by users?
- Is there any integration with other tools?
- What's the history of the product?
- Audit your competition’s SEO and content strategy.
No CTRL+C, CTRL+V - Do not copy paste your content
Please do not copy paste your content throughout your knowledge base. Google doesn’t appreciate duplicate content and you may be less visible online if your content is deemed to be a pale copy of another piece of content available online.
- How to Optimize Your Knowledge Base for SEO ✅
- SEO Strategies for Knowledge Base Self-Serve Customer Success
- How HelpSite helps you create an SEO-friendly knowledge base
- Help article / Knowledge base SEO consideration | SEO Q&A
- Importance of a Knowledge Center for Your SEO
- Understanding & Optimizing Onsite Search
- How to SEO Optimize Your Knowledge Base (And Why You Need To) 📙
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