The most valuable part of a map is being on it. Why Knowledge Base SEO matters.

You’ve got your customer support site squared-away, customers can reasonably find what they’re looking for. You’re fine-tuning the search, and leveraging keywords, synonyms, and white/black lists to help your results. That’s helping, but you’re still not seeing the “adoption” you’re looking for.

But “adoption” implies they’re coming back. We typically measure this by looking at the number of unique visitors or visits to the support homepage. But what if customers are finding your support pages and getting to them directly?

Stop control freaking

There is a real reason that companies aren’t or won’t open their support sites to indexing by search crawlers, control. Once you allow customers to access information directly, you lose sight of the internal paths they’ve taken to get to the information. You lose sight of who they are, and what products they may own. Opportunities for up sell or cross sell are sometimes lost. It may interfere with the way “call deflections” are calculated and the overall success of the site is judged.

Customers won't find what search can't seeBut do you as a customer yourself care about those things? No, you just want to find your answer and move on with your life.

The measure of a support site’s success shouldn’t be how many “calls” it has “deflected” but how many “answers” it has “served”.

Put ’em where they’ll look

Consider that your customer’s first stop isn’t your support homepage. And it shouldn’t be. Their first stop should be the page that answers their question.

Think about it, when you have a problem with a product or service, you don’t necessarily go to the company’s Web site and locate the “Help, Support, or Knowledge Base,” click them and enter into the world of intuitive information delivery. You search the Web!

There is a reason Google is the most popular Web site with 1.1 Billion unique visitors each month. With Yahoo! and Bing in the top 10… When people have a question, they go there first.

So, shouldn’t your answers be the first they find?

If I’ve got a problem with the Xfinity X1 product, where the remote isn’t controlling the menu, my first stop isn’t the Xfinity customer support portal…It’s Google.

My search “Xfinity X1 remote is causing search menu to come up” offers me a broader range of results from all around the Web than a narrow support search would. Forums, blogs, news, articles, announcements, etc…

The bottom line is that I can leverage the collective wisdom of the Web in far less time than I could in accessing your support site and navigating to, or searching for the same issue.

Strut your stuff

So why not fold your answers into the mix, build your support articles to work optimally within and outside of your support site!

There are practices that, if leveraged consistently, will improve your customer’s experience within your own support site as well as make your answers easier to find online.

Here are a few ways to help search engines like Google to understand the content of your articles and improve your customer’s ability to find them online.

  • Page Titles: Make sure they accurately describe the content of the page. They should unique, brief, and descriptive. Also, they should appear in the “Title” tag of the HTML of the page.
  • Summary or Description: The article should contain a unique and accurate description within the first two sentences on the page.
  • Images: Should not be used in place of text, but should be used to supplement or clarify text. They should also include Alt text that describes the image content.
  • Writing Style: The article should not contain any spelling or grammar errors and should be free of technical jargon and terms that are not familiar to your customer.
  • Common or “Preferred” Terms: Ensure that words that you use often are used consistently throughout your page copy and across all articles on your site.
  • Hyperlinks: Links within the page should include text that accurately describes the content of the page that is being linked to in concise terms.
  • Heading Tags: Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3) consistently and sparingly. This will help convey relative importance to the terms within.
  • “Chunking”: Ensure the article is centered around a single topic.
  • Uniqueness: Ensure the article content is unique and does not contain information that is duplicated in other articles.

Lastly, ensure that your site includes a Site Map that is made available to external search engines to index. Also make sure your site provides simple URL stings that do not change very often. Both of these will likely require some assistance by your IT team and/or your Knowledge Base vendor to achieve.

Watch ’em grow

Try doing some searches for your key support articles in the various search engines and record your results. See if they appear at all, if they do, great! Use the practices above to improve their relevancy. If they don’t appear, work with your IT team and vendor to ensure the site map is published to the search engines and that the URL strings are kept simple. Give it a few weeks and try your searches again and record the results.

Once your articles are available, track the page hits or views before and after. See what kind of lift you get. Also, if your pages have a “did this resolve your issue” question at the bottom, compare the results before and after your changes.

Remember, the whole point of putting support information online is to help your customers to help themselves. So let’s make sure we’re paying attention to how, where, and when they want to get help.