This article outlines the various Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics and MindTouch feature benefits for increasing organic search traffic to your Customer Success Center. This will help your customers more quickly find answers and new buyers find information that differentiates your company.
What is SEO?
Where is the first place you go when you have a question about a product? Probably Google or another search engine. SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. This 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".
Competition Sensitive - Private Content
What if my content is competition sensitive? I can't allow anonymous access to our help content, knowledge base and training materials. This is a missed opportunity. 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.
Your customers are using search engines to find answers to their questions about your products. 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 you customers and prospects are finding your competition’s content and not yours. Or they are finding misinformation about your content provided by your competition. The Internet is the principal medium your customers expect answers from and they want them immediately. If you want to be competitive you must be publishing at least some of your content to a web-native format. And this content needs to be search engine optimized.
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 and classifications to you MIndTouch articles. Tags are used to contextually generate the related articles and classifications are used for customer and agent search.
Human Readable URLs and Custom Domains
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/Getting_Started) which 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.
- Good: success.mindtouch.com/Documentation/Integration/Single_Sign_On/
Yes, this article is about integration and single sign on. No surprises. Not the use of keywords in the URL that are reinforcing the content of the article.
- Bad: help.salesforce.com/HTViewSolution?id=000133732&language=en_US
What’s this about? The URL is a significant lost opportunity for optimizing for high search ranking.
- Even Worse: fuzeqna.com/careerbuilder/ext/kbsearch.aspx#ctl00_phMaster_phMain_KBSearch_repSearchResults_ctl00_lnkQuestion
This is the worst possible scenario. This is not a human readable URL and the domain is not even specific to the company. Note: this company’s name and web domain is CareerBuilder.com.
MindTouch provides a sitemap within every site by default. This is automatically updated in real-time and conforms to the appropriate up to date standards set forth by search engines. You can find this within your site by appending "/sitemap.xml" to the end of your hostname (e.g., http://success.MindTouch.com/sitemap.xml).
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).
High Quality Social Links With Social Sharing
Increasingly social shares are affecting search engine rankings. MindTouch includes the option of turning on or off the 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.
Content Reuse for Keyword Placement
Be smart about your keyword placement. You don't want to overuse keywords, but you will want to place important keywords in the the Overview section because this will be your meta description and show up in MindTouch search results. Also, placing keywords near the top of an article weights the keywords higher.
For managing keywords throughout your MindTouch site you can utilize 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.
Proper Use of 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.
MindTouch includes a collection of Reports for Knowledge 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
Sort the articles table 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.
Step 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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.