So you have everything you need to provide customers the best support experience possible. You have your email ticketing system and social support, your help desk team is ready with their headphones, and you have a pretty solid knowledge base with “everything under the sun”. Except your customers aren’t coming to you. Agreed, they are looking for a solution to a problem they have with your product. But they just aren’t coming to you!
Instead you see your customers queueing in front of Google. And you can’t blame them – when was the last time you faced a glitch on anything you used, and your hands did not instinctively start typing Goog… The trouble is, if your solution doesn’t feature on the top of this results page, it’s likely your customers will never get to hear your version of “this is how we dance”. I know that’s kind of a big deal, so here are the 4 ways you can optimize your knowledge base and solutions articles for search engines.
See what People are looking for
It’s easy to fill your knowledge base with what you think your customers want, but do you know what they really want? What if you could find out exactly what your customers are looking for in your solutions and forums? That way, you can focus each solution article on the right audience, with razor sharp accuracy.
If you use Google Analytics to keep a tab on your web stats, you might want to extend the advantages by tracking activities on your support portal as well. You can immediately identify which posts your customers spend the most time on, where they navigate to, and how they engage with your support. If you have integrated Google Webmaster Tools with this analytics profile, you can even see the exact search queries your customers use, and which of your articles are currently coming up.
Make it easy to Find
If a brilliant solution fell in the woods and nobody heard it, did it still make a sound? Nobody cares about your smooth as butter solutions and genius workarounds if they don’t get to read it. That means you need to make every piece of content you put into your knowledge base super easy for your customers. Think Google search results and SEO.
You don’t need to stuff keywords, sneak links and fill your article with blackhat gibberish to make this work. The right title, description and some well thought-out content should do the trick. So how do you know which title sticks, and what kind of content you should write? Andrew Chen shares a pretty interesting post on how to frame sticky post titles – in short, tweet it and see if it sticks with your target audience. Once you’ve framed the title and content, crafting a snippet for the post’s description is relatively easy. Finally, remember to capture the key idea of your solution in its URL as well.
Provide Intelligent Navigation
How long can you survive in a deserted island with just one solution article for solace? Your customers probably have different levels of knowledge and expertise about your product, so it makes sense for you to tell them where to go next with additional links and navigation.
If you are confused about how to interlink your solution articles, read through them (or better still, ask your mom to) and identify words and phrases where they tend to get lost a bit. If your article describes a series of steps, ask a novice to follow these instructions as you watch over their shoulder. If they fumble at a certain step, or have some additional questions, you might consider creating a new solution and linking out to it. You should also add a list of next steps, resources and calls to action at the end of “heavier” solution articles. You’ll be surprised to see the impact that has on your user engagement levels.
Keep it Fresh !
If you want your knowledge base to be the final authority on the right solutions to your customers, you need to be doubly sure of its accuracy. Nobody likes digging through a stale solution article with outdated screens and workflows. The best part is, frequently updated content gets crawled more often, placing you even higher on your search rankings. It might be a good idea to periodically take an inventory of your knowledge base and reorganize them, editing and featuring the hottest topics on top. In fact, it’s best to shoot an email with your best ideas “as you get them” to your knowledge base, so you always have a few cool articles to review and publish every few weeks.
The trick to optimizing your knowledge base for search engines is, paradoxically, not worrying too much about the search engine at all. Share earth shattering FAQs, solutions and workarounds with customers and your content will automatically feature on the top of search results.