Making Your Documentation SEO-Friendly

How to make your KB or documentation SEO friendly
Understanding Search Behavior

How am I qualified to talk about this?

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.

Writing With the Intent to Make Your Content Easily Discoverable

Understanding search behaviour

Any search starts with a desire

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).

People simultaneously process acceptance and rejection criteria for every result on the SERP

What is documentation for a marketer?

  1. It’s where your future customers can learn about your services.
  2. Where customers can go instead of opening a ticket - without them having to sit on hold waiting for a service rep.

What is search intent?

“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”
  • For example, we could search for "serpstat" how to 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. 

Which keywords and content drive the most engagement ?

Keyword Types

  • 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

Keyword Modifiers

  • How-to = tutorial
  • Your product + Integration product = Mailchimp and Google Analytics
  • Update = tutorials or FAQ pages

Think about bots the way they think about humans

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). 

On-page SEO Best Practices

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

Address Technical SEO

Don’t focus only on the content. Address technical issues that can improve your SEO:

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.

Internal Linking

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. 

Content Opportunities Are Limitless, Even For a Boring Industry

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.

Do not copy paste your content

Sources I used beyond my own experience

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