Tech comm writers, do not become hidden in the background, increase your organization’s web traffic, get noticed by Google, and become and asset to your organization by effectively generating SEO-enhanced technical documentation.
A technical communicator’s contribution to an organization is often hidden in the background of business operations and goes unrecognized by both the employer and even the end-user – the specific target audience of the business and technical documentation. Some organizations still live in ancient times and merely send out user guides and training materials as a Standard Operating Procedure rather than optimizing on the rich and functional content that comprises technical communicators’ creations. The accessibility and connectivity afforded by the Internet today increases the visibility of technical communicators’ creations and the role that they serve in an organization. Not only do company websites liberate technical documents, but technical communicators now have the ability to truly make an impact on their organizations’ growth and profits. How can technical communicators optimize their technical documentation search engine rankings and get noticed by Google? SEO the crap out of content, generate referral traffic, and increase traffic time on the site.
Whether you upload your technical documents to your site as PDFs or actually create pages within your site, you do not have to be a “SEO specialist” to create a few links to similar pages or those that enhance and expand on the topic of your content. Link building is one of the most effective methods to increase your SEO organically. For example, you create a series of training manuals for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of your company’s product. If there are webpages that describe who are considered to be beginner users, intermediate users, and advanced users, inserting hyperlinks to the keywords to and from the documents would effectively increase the number of internal links within your site and enhance Google’s indexing for search engine ranking. Even if your company does not provide support guides, training materials, or other documentation online, putting hyperlinks in your technical documents will at least create an opportunity for users to click on the document link to the website, thus, mounting referral traffic.
Technical communicators who are able to actually create pages of online documentation have the enhanced ability to increase SEO (and also fulfill a marketing role). First, create titles and headings that regard and describe the content of the page. Make sure that your title and headings contain at least one keyword that is used within the body content. This keyword should also be able to be linked to your flagship content—in other words, the main topic of your entire website. What is your organizations key function, product, or service? In most instances, the best page to find this information (if you are too afraid to call your CEO) is the home page of your organization’s website. Whether you are copying and pasting from a text file or Word document or are creating the content “on the fly,” keep in mind the target audience, the way they will be interacting with the content, and the focus of the page. Lastly, always write clear and concise statements that are easy to read. Remember, even though it is a “robot” that crawls website pages for content, it is still in elementary school when it comes to reading; therefore, the “easier to read, the easier to crawl” becomes the SEO motto.
Images are a technical communicator’s best friend when it comes to SEO because not only do they save on the amount of writing or content that must be created, they actually get crawled and indexed just like a keyword would according to Google. Simply upload explanatory and informational images, give them a descriptive filename and title, and embed them within the body of your page, and you will have resourcefully increased the SEO of the page. Consider this, one mistake beginner SEO specialists or SEO content writers make is inserting a ton of links to everywhere (and nowhere valuable) on the website. Focus on inserting links to the keyword and perhaps other words to other website pages where the content is genuinely relevant to the keyword. Google picks up on this practice of “keyword stuffing” and will not index the page. Lastly, add a few tags to your page regarding the content and publish. For instance, effective tags for this article include: SEO, search engine optimization, technical communication, and web content.
While your main role is to create user guides, training, and other educational documentation, you can also support your company’s SEO efforts by creating fresh blog content that includes links to keywords within the main pages of your website. By strategically composing content around a specific target key word and linking it with the same word on other webpages or even in downloadable technical documents, Google’s search engine is more likely to rank it high on its search engine results. Jump from Google’s third page of search results to its first page with minimal effort – all you have to do is write interesting content about the topics you already write about in your technical documentation.
Lastly, and arguably the easiest method of increasing your website’s organic SEO is to create a forum where your users or audience can post questions, comments, best use scenarios, and other information that regards your business or industry. This builds a database of knowledge, which is a huge SEO-intense resource. In forums, individual users can create their own topic categories and include their own tags, which get indexed in search engines. This acts in a technical communicator’s benefit in three chief ways. First, you do not have to perform any additional work besides creating the forum and perhaps answering a question or two as a moderator. Second, when one keyword is searched for, similarly tagged content will also appear in search results, which increases users’ time on the website and likelihood that they will post more content. Third, not only Google, but all search engines eat up forum content because it is all original and completely organic, which eliminates the event that your content will be blacklisted from search engines.
Publishing online or downloadable technical documentation that incorporates targeted keyword linking to other website content, along with creating stimulating blogs and user forums are all effective methods to increasing a website’s SEO. Technical communicators no longer have to remain in the back office of their company, they can create more value from their content and significantly impact the organization’s growth and profits.
About the Authors
Jessica Lynn Campbell is Marketing Executive and Content Writer for Web Benefits Design. She has a Master’s in English-Technical Communication, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and is currently obtaining a PH.D in Texts and Technology. Jessica is an expert and experienced technical communicator, author, and multi-media manager having been published on multiple media platforms including print and online. She is skilled in APA, MLA, Chicago, and Bluebook citation styles. Jessica can be reached at email@example.com or 407-810-7542.
Amber Lorynne Allman is a graduate from the University of Central Florida with Bachelor’s in English-Creative Writing with a minor in English-Technical Communication. She is skilled with translating beginner documents that are in German or Pinyin (Simplified) and her main passion is creative script writing and editing. She currently works at Universal Studios Orlando Resort. Amber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.