When was the last time you went to a manufacturer’s website to search for answers to a question about a particular product? If you’re like most people, you don’t. Instead, you head to Google and type in your question, then start clicking on results. If you’re lucky – or, more likely, if the manufacturer is lucky – one of the top results is from the maker of whatever product you have the question about. Otherwise, you see results from forums and blogs, and maybe Google+, Facebook and Twitter feeds, which address the same, or similar, question you have.

When people use other outlets than your own to find answers to questions about your products or services, that’s traffic, not to mention authority, that you’re missing out on. So, how can you keep your site and your company at the top of organic search results when people have questions about your products? The answer is really pretty simple.

Make sure your helpdesk offers SEO friendly tools

You put a lot of time and effort into creating website content that is keyword rich and that will draw you tons of organic traffic. Make sure your helpdesk offers the same opportunity. Many knowledge base systems on the market don’t offer things like:

  • Article content that can actually be searched by search engines
  • The ability to tag articles with valued keywords
  • The ability to create summaries of articles that are keyword-rich
  • The ability to create keyword rich article titles
  • The ability to generate URLS based off your keyword rich titles
  • The ability to create HTML content so you can add keyword-rich ALT and TITLE tags for images, create keyword-rich links to your website and more.
  • Sharing of knowledge base articles across a variety of social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and even Digg.

If your helpdesk can’t give you these essential tools for creating search engine friendly content, then you’re in danger of losing valuable traffic to sources that aren’t as authoritative as your own. Worse, you could be sending traffic to your competitors.

View and react to customer search history

Your ability to craft valuable knowledge base content is only as good as your ability to tell whether you’re answering your customers’ questions. That’s where being able to see what your customers are searching for in your knowledge base comes in handy. Even better is the ability to see what search queries return no relevant articles. Maybe a query returns articles, but those articles have few, if any, views relative to the number of searches.

If your customers are looking for information that can’t be found, that’s a huge problem. If you can’t bridge that gap then you’re losing traffic, and you may even be losing customers, especially if information they’re seeking can be found on a competitor’s website.

Search for yourself to find areas of improvement

While it’s best to follow what your customers are searching for when you craft helpdesk content, it’s also a good idea to do your own reconnaissance. That means diving into your helpdesk and performing your own searches and seeing what comes up. Follow customer searches to see what articles, if any, show up. If an article is relevant for a particular search term, but it has no views, see if you can figure out why.

You may even want to perform the same search on Google and see what comes up and analyze the results, then use that information to craft your own articles. Heck, see how competitors address similar questions in their own help systems and follow their lead – but only if they’re returning relevant results. You’ll be amazed at what you find by getting your hands a little dirty.

Use relevant keywords whenever and wherever possible

This is pretty much a no brainer but it’s worth mentioning anyway. You need to make sure you hit relevant keyword content in all of your articles, even if it’s simply in the article summary and tags. You don’t need to have them all over an article or its title, but if you’re answering a question there’s no reason you can’t include relevant, related keywords in an article’s summary or in the tags associated with the article. The more important point is to address the issue. Keyword content is a close second, though.

Allow users to share your most important articles with their friends

The rise of social media always reminds me of that famous Faberge Organics shampoo commercial. Since social media is all about being social, about sharing information and links – as well as videos of cats – with a network of friends and associates, you need to make sure your users are able to share your key articles across whatever social network they want: Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Reddit and others. The ability to share your information not only allows for social interaction of your brand with the friends of your users, but also gives some added SEO power to your information.

Of course all of this is only possible if you have a helpdesk that supports it all. If Google or Bing can’t access your helpdesk content, including any news items or RSS feeds, then it’s time for a new helpdesk. Remember: your helpdesk is a huge repository of information about your product or service and it’s just as important to the success of your company as your primary website. A helpdesk can easily double the amount of relevant and searchable content about your company, so it’s imperative that you have that resource in your hands. You can bet your competitors do.