This article outlines the various search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and MindTouch feature benefits for increasing organic search traffic to your customer success centers. Increasing your organic search traffic helps your existing customers find answers more quickly and helps potential buyers to find information that differentiates your company from the rest of the market.
What is SEO?
Where is the first place you go when you have a question about a product? Probably Google or another search engine. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of best practices for affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results. One of the most fertile means of impacting search engine ranking is by using content from customer success, training, documentation and support. For more information on SEO best practices refer to the blog post, "8 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Help Center With SEO Best Practices".
Make your site public
You may ask, "What if my content is competition-sensitive?" Our answer, make some of it public, leave competition-sensitive content private. But not allowing public users access to our help content, knowledge base and training materials is a missed opportunity. You are denying potential customers an important step in the decision-making process. So, immediately make parts of your content public and use the conditional content or reuse content features in MindTouch to hide competition sensitive information from anonymous users.
Remember, your customers are using search engines to find answers to their questions about your products. And so are your buyers. If you’re still using PDF files, old knowledge base technologies or hiding all your content then you can be sure your customers and prospects are finding your competition’s content and not yours. Or they are finding misinformation about your content provided by your competition and in third-party forums. The Internet is the principal medium your customers expect answers from and they want them immediately. If you want to be competitive, you must publish at least some of your content to a web-native format. To reap the benefits of MindTouch search engine optimized content, your site must be public.
Link and cluster pages by topic
Search engines prefer if you strategically link pages by topic. For example, link articles about “Customer Success” to other pages about “Customer Success.” This clustering of knowledge makes it easy, not just for web crawlers to find information, but for your customers and buyers to find and discover relevant articles. With MindTouch, related articles are automatically organizing content in this way. Moreover, HelpRankTM, MindTouch-proprietary machine learning algorithms, are optimizing these clusters of articles into relevant knowledge paths based on users interacting with MindTouch. This automatically positively affects search engine ranking and the ability for your customers to find and discover.
How? Add tags classifications, and summaries to your MindTouch articles. Tags are used to contextually generate the related articles, classifications are used for customer and agent search, and page summaries help differentiate and segment your content for search engines.
Craft human-readable URLs
When creating a page in MindTouch, our editor allows you to choose a specific name for the page title. This results in a human-readable page URL (e.g. http://success.mindtouch.com/Get_Started) that can be easily scanned and indexed by search engines like Google. Having a human-readable page title helps ensure search engine users can easily find content within your MindTouch site. Ensuring your content is easily found through an external search engine will result in the likelihood of your site content climbing that search engine's ranks.
(Yes, this article is about integration and single-sign on. No surprises. Note that keywords in the URL are reinforcing the content of the article.)
(What’s this about? The URL is a significant lost opportunity for optimizing for high search ranking.)
(This is the worst possible scenario. This is not a human-readable URL and the domain is not even specific to the company. The company's domain is actually careerbuilder.com. Note: CareerBuilder in the meanwhile has introduced human-friendly URLs.)
Leverage your XML sitemap
MindTouch provides a sitemap within every site by default. This sitemap is automatically updated in real time and conforms to the appropriate up-to-date standards set forth by search engines. Find your sitemap by appending
/sitemap.xml to the end of your hostname (view this example).
Sitemaps provide search engines with a quick manifest of publicly accessible pages as a guide when indexing your site content. This is the best way to make sure that all your content is crawled, indexed and the most up to date version is captured in the search engine. Also, this provides a means of standardizing and controlling all search engines’ description of your page on the search engine results page (SERP).
Turn on social sharing
Increasingly social shares are affecting search engine rankings. MindTouch includes the option of turning on or off social sharing buttons, but it is recommended that you leave them on for SEO purposes. This makes it easy for interested followers to share content and back-link to your site. With this in mind, be sure to create quality content worth sharing. For example, best practices content for your users that is not just about your product features, but rather can transcend your product features.
Place keywords strategically
Be smart about your keyword placement. You don't want to overuse keywords, but you will want to place important keywords in your page summaries because they will be your meta description and show up in MindTouch search results. Your page summary may be the deciding factor for readers to click through to your page or not.
For managing keywords throughout your MindTouch site, you can use the content reuse feature to place keywords in a body of content that is reused throughout your MindTouch site in strategic places. This allows you to update everywhere in one place.
Optimize Content For Mobile Use
With MindTouch Responsive, content is automatically optimized for mobile use. When a user makes a search with a mobile device, the search engines are now more likely to display relevant content that is optimized for mobile devices. Learn more about how MindTouch handles SEO impact here.
Use "nofollow" tags
The more links you have on a page the less value any one link has. This doesn't mean that you should avoid links, but rather use the nofollow tag for low quality or irrelevant links. Some examples of this are site navigation, user-generated content, embeds, etc. MindTouch employs best practices by using nofollow tags for your external links (URLs hyperlinked that are external to MindTouch) and for application and content navigational elements.
By default MindTouch saves all external links with a nofollow tag. If you wish you turn off the nofollow for external links while still retaining nofollow for application and content navigation you should contact MindTouch Support.
Analyze your content
MindTouch includes a collection of reports for content analytics. These are designed to help identify gaps in content, quality and aging. However, many of our savvy customers have taught us an alternate use for these—search engine optimization. Here's how it works.
Step 1: Identify experts
Quality is your number one priority. Find experts among your contributors using the community scoring report. Use a search query to narrow the content down to key topics. Sort to show the highest rated articles. Find the authors. These will be on your "Tiger Team" for this project.
Step 2: Identify and improve low quality content
In the articles table, sort by low quality scores. These need to be improved. Use your experts and equip them with the appropriate keywords and this article on SEO best practices. Make sure content is relevant and interesting, boring content will not encourage users to share it.
Step 3: Reduce duplicate content
Search engines index content and often filter by how similar the content is. If your site must have duplicate content block a duplicate with a noindex meta tag. Search engines will worsen your rank if it believes the duplicate content will manipulate rankings or confuse users.
Step 4: Find gaps in content with search reports
Using the search report and a search query to narrow the result set, identify search queries executed by your users that do not return results. Have your experts write these articles, again using the correct keywords and this article as reference. You can use this report to identify keywords you may not have known users were using in search queries. This may expand your use of keywords as your users may have a different vocabulary. Furthermore, you can drive search traffic to the correct articles using search recommendations.
Step 5: Touch old pages
Search engines favor new content. Using the content aging report update the old articles that are still relevant. Retire old articles that are not relevant.
Step 6: Relate and group into clusters
Tag your articles with the appropriate keywords to create topic based clusters (see above) and relevant knowledge paths. This will further be optimized automatically by MindTouch HelpRank based on your users' interactions with the system.
By following some of these best practices MindTouch customers are reporting 50% increases in organic site traffic within four months. These are prospective buyers and customers. For many of our customers this is a competitive differentiator. For all of our customers this is positively impacting how they deliver customer success. Please share your best practices by emailing Success@MindTouch.com.