How to SEO Optimize Your Knowledge Base (And Why You Need To)

By Colin Newcomer
SEO Optimize Knowledge Base

You probably spend a great deal of time and effort on SEO optimizing your main website. SEO wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry if it didn’t help people reach new customers.

But do you put the same amount of thought into SEO optimization for your knowledge base? I mean, if you’re doing your knowledge base right, you’re going to have, at a minimum, thousands of words of unique content. Don’t you want to maximize the return on that investment?

In this post, I’ll talk about some basic tips you can apply to improve your help center’s search rankings. Doing so will help you both reach new customers and better serve your existing customers.

Why SEO Optimizing Your Knowledge Base Helps Everyone

Here’s something I find myself doing a lot:

When I run into an issue with a product, my first reaction is to turn to Google. For example, if I need to add a filter to my Gmail account, I don’t go to the Gmail help center. I just google “How to add a filter to Gmail”.

And if the keyword research tools are accurate, I know I’m not the only person who does that. So SEO optimizing your knowledge base gives your current customers another chance at finding all of the helpful content you’ve produced.

But it’s not just about your current customers, your knowledge base can also help you reach new customers. In addition to specific niche topics for your product, you’re probably also going to need to write some general tutorials.

For example, if you sell a WordPress theme, you’ll have specific guides for that theme, but you might also need a general article like “how to install a WordPress theme”. People who didn’t know about your theme beforehand can find that article, learn about your company, and maybe become customers down the road.

See? SEO for your knowledge base is a win-win!

How to Optimize Your Help Center for SEO

Here’s the best part of optimizing your knowledge base for SEO:

While these tips are geared towards making your knowledge base more friendly to Google’s robots, they’ll also make your knowledge base more friendly to humans.

By following the tips on this list, you’re not sacrificing the helpfulness of your knowledge base. You’re just making it easier for all types of visitors to find your content.

Let’s get into the tips…

Feed the Knowledge Graph With Bullet Points and Lists

Google search results used to just be organic results and advertisements. No longer! Now, among a number of other additions, Google employs something called the Knowledge Graph. Not sure what I’m talking about?

It looks like this:

optimize knowledge base seo
Hey look – that’s a WordPress theme shop with their knowledge base in Google’s Knowledge Graph. It works!

And, among many other query types, guess where it pops up most often? On “How to do X…” type searches. Are bells ringing in your head right now? They should be!

Knowledge bases are absolutely filled with these type of guides. And you can use them to grab the top spot on Google, even if your site isn’t ranking in the first position.

Now, you can’t force Google to put you in its Knowledge Graph. But you can stack the deck in your favor. And don’t worry – what I’m about to tell you is something you should already be doing for your human visitors…

Use bullet points or numbered lists for instructions.

Instead of writing out instructions in paragraph form, break them up into lists. That will get you halfway there.

Next, make sure to add a relevant header above your instructions. For example, if you’re writing instructions on “how to take a screenshot”, you’d want to add a header with some mix of those keywords above your instruction list.

Again, this format is actually best for your human readers, too. So don’t worry about sacrificing human readability to appease Google’s robots.

Do A Little Keyword Research On Your Titles

Your first priority for your knowledge base article titles is to make them easy to find when humans browse your knowledge base.

But here’s the cool thing about using something like Heroic Knowledge Base for your help articles:

You can actually create two different titles when you use a plugin like Yoast SEO. One title is for the humans, and the other (meta) title is for the robots.

seo optimize your knowledge base

So by all means, keep your human title short and to the point. But if the system you’re using to organize your knowledge base articles allows it, create a separate meta title that’s optimized for search engines.

A great tool to find out what types of questions people are asking is Answer the Public. And if you want to get specific data on those searches, you can use the AdWords Keyword Planner or a third-party tool like KWFinder.

Popular marketers like Neil Patel have written whole guides on interlinking. But those guides usually come at the topic from the perspective of blog posts.

Interlinking isn’t just a good practice for your blog, though. It’s also a concept you should bring to your knowledge base articles. Interlinking your articles…

  • Makes it easier for search engines to crawl your entire knowledge base.
  • Adds relevant anchor text to pass some authority to the other pages in your knowledge base. That gives those pages a small boost in the search engine rankings.

And like the other tips, it also helps humans find other articles to help solve their problems!

For example, look how Asana interlinks articles in their help center:

Here are some interlinking best practices for humans and search engine robots:

  • Any time you mention something contained in another article, link to that article.
  • Specifically try to include an internal link at the end of an article to encourage people to continue learning about your product.

Create a Sitemap for Your Knowledge Base

Sitemaps are a longstanding SEO tactic. Humans don’t care much about them, but for robots, they provide an easy way to understand the hierarchy and relationships of your articles.

If you’re using WordPress for your knowledge base, something like Yoast SEO can automatically create a sitemap for you to submit to Google Search Console. If you’re using a different knowledge base CMS, you’ll need to ask your provider.

Use Meta Tags for Images

A good knowledge base is full of images. So don’t miss out on a chance to insert some keyword relevance. Make sure you specify an alt-tag for all the images that you use.

Again, Asana utilizes this perfectly in their knowledge base:

While it won’t have your help center articles ranking on the first page by itself, it’s a good general on-page SEO tactic.


Wrapping Things Up

You don’t need to obsess over SEO optimizing your knowledge base. But considering that you’re already putting a great deal of effort into creating unique content for your articles, it would be a shame to let them go to waste, right?

All of these tactics involve simple on-page tweaks you can make today and achieve a noticeable improvement. Once you get the hang of them, they’ll come naturally and you won’t even need to think about SEO optimization anymore!

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