SEO Guide

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge field and is important for your public knowledge base. It’s a way of enhancing the findability of your content for your users and giving others the opportunity to discover your knowledge base.

Get started

It’s important to optimize your knowledge base for SEO if you want it to be indexed by search engines.

This will help with discoverability of your site in case users are googling for help. It can even have the impact of attracting new customers to your product.

Proper SEO can also help with overall usability of your site because content pages will be structured more clearly.

If your knowledge base is private, find out how to exclude your knowledge base from search engines.

Best practices

Refer to these best practices for your knowledge base SEO: 

  • Add a meta description for every page
  • Add a title tag for every page
  • Keyword optimize your pages
  • Interlink as many articles as you can in your knowledge base
  • Optimize your URLs with your target keyword
  • Use SEO-friendly permalinks
  • Optimize page load times
  • Use bullet point and numbered lists
  • Include images with alt-text

Meta descriptions

The meta description is an HTML element that search engines use to display a short description for your page/site and can contain keywords to optimize for search. This is your chance to attract organic traffic to your content with compelling copy.

Find out how to customize your meta descriptions.

Title tags

The title tag is an HTML element that search engines use to display the topic and name of your page/site and can contain keywords to optimize for search. The aim is to summarize your content or site to tell visitors what it’s about. It’s indexed by search engines.

Find out how to customize your title tags.

Keyword optimization

Keyword optimization is a huge topic but it’s the practice of targeting certain high or medium volume keywords that users are actually searching for online. SEO marketers find keywords using software such as the keyword planner in Google Adwords.

Optimizing a page consists of ensuring it contains your target keyword (or keyword phrase) a few times, but no more than would be natural.

The keyword should be in the page title, page URL, first paragraph, in the alt-text of any images and scattered throughout the text.

Interlinking articles

It’s SEO best practice to interlink your articles internally so search engines can crawl your site more effectively. It’s a part of your internal or on-site SEO strategy, just like meta descriptions and title tags.

It also enhances discoverability of your content, users spend more time on your site, and this improves your SEO.

Optimizing URLs

URLs are an important part of your SEO strategy. They should be reasonably short and contain your targeted keywords. If you’re not targeting any specific keywords (although you should be) just make sure the URL contains keywords that define the topic of your content.

Lists

Using ordered and unordered lists is a great way to structure your knowledge base content. Also known as a semantic structure, bullet points and numbered lists make your content more readable.

Within your articles, try to break down the information in such a way that you can present it in lists. Simply add in lists using the WYSIWYG editor for your articles.

Optimizing images

If you include an image in your knowledge base content, a good rule of thumb is to also include an alt text. The alt text is an HTML tag that displays if your image doesn’t load, or appears if you hover the cursor above the image. It also gets indexed by search engines.

To add an alt text to your image, edit the page in your your knowledge base and click on the image.

 

Select the ‘i’ option to type in your text. This should be a short description of your image that contains your target keyword or keyword phrase.

Page load times

Google uses page load times as a key ranking signal. If your site loads too slowly this will negatively impact the overall SEO ranking of your site. KnowledgeOwl is already optimized for loading speed but you can avoid doing things that slow your site.

For example, it’s important to compress your images before you upload them to keep page load times low. Resize them in an editor so that they’re no more than around 1000 x 1000 pixels maximum.

Remember, if you’re pasting in code from another editor such as Microsoft Word, doing so will add in lots of unnecessary code in the background. Copy and paste into a plain text source like Notepad, or select ‘paste without formatting’ when you right click.

KnowledgeOwl SEO features

KnowledgeOwl has several features to help you optimize your knowledge base for SEO. 

These are:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Sitemaps

Title tags

The title tag is an HTML element that search engines use to display the topic and name of your page/site and can contain keywords to optimize for search. Find out how to customize your title tags.

Meta Descriptions

The meta description is an HTML element that search engines use to display a short description for your page/site and can contain keywords to optimize for search. Find out how to customize your meta descriptions.

Sitemaps

You use a sitemap to tell Google to index your website and how to structure the information it contains. Find out how to generate your sitemap.

Promote your knowledge base

The saddest knowledge base is one with no traffic. While heavy traffic to certain types of content may indicate a problem or an opportunity to make things easier, there will always be customers who need self-service.

Promote your knowledge base to your customer base and beyond by:

  • Sending out weekly content highlights in your subscriber newsletter
  • Promoting your content on social media
  • Linking to your knowledge base from your main website
  • Linking to your knowledge base in customer support emails

It’s also good for SEO. Successfully promoting your knowledge base on social media and in your newsletter sends positive signals to search engines about how to rank your content.

Make your knowledge base public

Your knowledge base is already optimized for search engine indexing. This means search engines can already find your site and display it to users in search.

If for any reason your knowledge base is not public already, you can change that in the site settings.

Go to Settings > Security.

 

Choose the option ‘none’ for Access Security. This means your site will be publicly available.

When you are ready to launch your knowledge base, you should generate a sitemap. The sitemap is what you submit to Google to tell its search engines to index your site. 

Generate your sitemap

You use a sitemap to tell Google to crawl your website. It’s  an XML file representing the structure of your website content.

You can generate a publicly available sitemap under Settings > Basic.

Then you check the box next to SEO Settings, called ‘generate a publicly available sitemap’.

You can access your sitemap anytime once you’ve checked this box. Simply add "/help/sitemap.xml" to the end of your domain, like this:

{yoursubdomain}.knowledgeowl.com/help/sitemap.xml

Here’s ours as an example: http://support.knowledgeowl.com/help/sitemap.xml

A sitemap looks like this:

 

When you generate your sitemap in KnowledgeOwl, each page or article on your site is given a unique title. This title includes your knowledge base name, and the name of the article or page.

Article titles are also automatically truncated (shortened) to meet best practice guidelines for title length (55 characters). Articles that contain similar content are given a canonical link tag (an HTML link tag with attribute rel=canonical) to avoid duplicate content issues that would harm your SEO rankings.

Once you’ve got hold of your sitemap URL, paste it into Google Search Console so it can update your site.

Optimize your homepage

Your homepage is the most important page to optimize for SEO. This is what people will see first coming up in the search results page.

Notice how information about the structure of our knowledge base is being pulled in to the results, including page titles and meta descriptions. It’s giving an idea of content contained deeper within our knowledge base.

This is one of the reasons that you need to submit your sitemap to Google. It helps Google understand your site and better index your content.

Update title tag and meta description

You want to set up a great title tag and meta description for your homepage.

This is where great copywriting skills come into play. Keep it brief and only include the most necessary information. Don’t repeat yourself.

Navigate to the homepage of your knowledge base by clicking on Knowledge Base > Home Page.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the ‘Title Tag’ and ‘Meta Description’ fields.

 Type in or copy and paste your text into each field. The title tag is used the name of your webpage in search results, and the meta description is the preview or description of the webpage. 

Search engines can choose to display a different preview snippet rather than your meta description. While it might not always be used, the meta description is still important because as it helps Google understand what you think your page is about.

If either field is too long, your text will be shortened with ellipses, so it’s best to keep within the character limit.

Once you’ve updated either of these fields, it will take some time for Google to reflect these changes. It could take up to a week but is often as quick as 30 minutes. If you want to expedite the process, you can ask Google to recrawl your site or individual URLs.

Custom title tags and meta descriptions

The default title tag for every category and article title is "Article Title | KB Name".  We do not automatically generate meta descriptions, so Google will choose one for you if it's not specified. 

For SEO reason, don't just stick with the default titles and meta descriptions for your pages and categories in your knowledge base. Tailor these to contain as much information as possible about the content contained within them.

It’s helpful to fill in these fields yourself  because they will be indexed by search engines, and also be pulled in by social media when someone shares a page.

You can create custom title tags and meta descriptions on individual categories and articles in the editor.

For categories, go to Knowledge base > Articles by selecting it from the top menu.

Edit the category by clicking on the wrench icon, or by clicking on its title displayed in the right hand column.

This brings up the editing screen. Scroll to the bottom of the editor where you can enter your custom text into the title tag and meta description field.

The process is similar for editing the title tags for pages or articles. Navigate to the relevant page in your knowledge base and scroll down to the Title Tag and Meta Description fields.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is bad for SEO. This is any page that contains the same content as another page because it will reduce traffic to both pages if the search engine doesn’t know which one to index.

Avoiding duplicate content on private domains

If you have set up a private domain like "docs.mycompany.com", you will also still have your KO subdomain like "mycompany.knowledgeowl.com". If Google crawls both sites, it will be flagged as duplicate content.

To redirect all your KO subdomain traffic to your private domain and avoid duplicate content problems:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Basic from the top menu.
  2. Scroll down to ‘Domain Settings’.
  3. Check the boxes labeled ‘Enable private domain link in the application’ and '301 redirect all sub-domain requests to the private domain'.

This will ensure that your KO links always use your private domain, and you can avoid any duplicate content problems with Google.

Avoiding duplicate content with HTTP and HTTPS links (SSL)

If you are using a KO subdomain like "yourcompany.knowledgeowl.com" or you set up SSL for your private domain, check the box for ‘force SSL links’ so you only have secure links. Non-secure links will redirect.

Then, no matter what URL someone types in the browser, whether it’s:
support.knowledgeowl.com
http://support.knowledgeowl.com
https://support.knowledgeowl.com

All requests will be made to the last, secure URL. 

Hide from search engines

Private sites cannot be indexed by search engines. To make sure Google and other search engines don't index your public site, go to Settings > Style > Custom <Head> and paste in the following code:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

If you only want to hide individual articles from search engines, copy and paste the same code into the Source or Code View of the individual article.

Measure SEO performance

Google Analytics is the top free tool to measure the performance of your knowledge base. 

Make sure you set up an account and then create a property for your knowledge base. Select the option for tracking a ‘dynamic website’ when you create your property.

Once you've opened your account and set up your property, generate the code you need in your Google Analytics account. 

If you don't know how to do this, open your Google Analytics account. 

  • Click on your chosen property (website) in the home screen.
  • Click on the 'Admin' button symbolized by the cog on the bottom left of the screen.
  • Navigate to Tracking info > Tracking code.
  • Highlight the tracking code snippet in the next screen that opens.

It should look like this: 


Copy and paste this code snippet into the <head> tag of your knowledge base. To reach the <head> tag, navigate to Settings > Style


Scroll down to the Custom <head> tab and paste in your tracking code. It should look something like this: 

Hit save and you'll be good to go. 

Metrics

Start measuring these metrics using Google Analytics:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Page views
  • Bounce rate

Organic search traffic

This is probably the most important way to measure the performance of your knowledge base. Organic traffic is the number of people who are naturally discovering your website in the search engine results pages.

You can look at your numbers over time to see if your performance has improved. You can see the landing pages that most of your traffic is coming to. Increasing your knowledge base traffic can be a mixed bag.

On the one hand, it can mean more people are finding your content and it’s helping them solve their problems. On the other hand, more knowledge base searches can indicate more problems.

The key is to see it all in context.

Navigate to Acquisition > Source/Medium.

This enables you to see the proportion of your traffic that comes from different types of sources. In our case, we’re interested in organic traffic from Google, which is the number one result.

Page views

Navigate to Behaviour > All pages

Scroll down the same screen to get to a breakdown of all your page traffic to see your most popular pages:

Change the time frame in the top right hand corner to view your traffic over different lengths of time.

Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is calculated by the number of users that leave your site after viewing only a single page for 0 seconds. This indicates to the search engine that your content was not relevant, and has a negative impact on your ranking.

Your aim is to lower your bounce rate as much as possible. If you identify any pages with a high bounce rate, you need to analyse why that is and take steps to fix it.

To see your bounce rate, head over to Google Analytics. Navigate to Behavior > All pages.


Scroll down the same screen to get to a breakdown of all your page traffic to see your pages:

Your bounce rate is the third column from the right.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a popular tool used in SEO to track a website's search performance. Since your knowledge base is a website, you can use it to track your knowledge base's search performance too!

Search Console can tell you which pages of your kb are indexed by Google for search.  While the primary use case is to make sure that your pages are being successfully indexed, you can also use it to make sure your site is not being indexed. If you have a kb or pages you want removed from Google, you can also request removal.

The search console can also tell you what keywords your knowledge base is ranking for and in what position. This means set keywords that are bringing your site’s pages up in the search engine results page, and resulting in people clicking on those links.

To set up your knowledge base on the console, head over to the console and make an account if you haven’t already.

In the homepage, click on ‘Add Property’.

In the next screen, make sure you’re adding a website and type in the preferred URL for your knowledge base:

You will then need to verify you are the owner of the knowledge base by adding some HTML to your website header tag.

When the search console asks you to verify, switch to the ‘alternate methods’ tab. Select ‘HTML tag’ and copy the unique HTML code it generates to your clipboard.

Head back over to the KnowledgeOwl CMS and select Settings > Style from the top menu.


Scroll down to the custom CSS and HTML editor, and toggle to Custom <head>. Paste your code into this field and click save. It should look something like this: 

You’re all set up! You should see this screen after clicking ‘verify’ in the Google Search Console.