Simple Steps To Optimising Your Knowledge Base for SEO

Picture of Alex Haswell

Alex Haswell

A knowledge base is a centralised repository of information that contains a collection of articles, guides, tutorials, FAQs, and other resources that provide detailed information and solutions to common queries, issues, or topics related to a specific product, service, or subject matter. Typically, they’re designed to be easily accessible and searchable and are intended to enable users to find the information they need quickly and efficiently.

The use of knowledge bases on websites serves several important purposes:

  • Customer support
  • User education
  • FAQ hosting
  • Content organisation
  • SEO and web traffic

A well-designed knowledge base can support your customers, direct potential customers and help grow your online presence. That being said, it’s not uncommon to find many clients forgoing the implementation of a knowledge base, often opting for blogs and downloadable documentation in their place.

While the benefits of a great online knowledge base are myriad, in this article we’re going to discuss why, in my opinion, a knowledge base is an indispensable tool in supporting your SEO efforts.

Why Knowledge Bases Are Good For SEO

Knowledge bases are an excellent tool for building a large library of relevant content, developing topical authority and creating an extensive network of external links across your website. These three things are critical elements if you want to push forward with your SEO goals.

Content Development

The first and most obvious reason for the relative strength of knowledge bases within the context of SEO is the opportunity for the development of rich and relevant content. A great knowledge base will contain in-depth articles and resources that cover a wide range of topics related to your product, service, or industry. And can you guess what your potential customers are likely searching for on a daily basis? A source of reliable information on a wide range of topics related to the product or service they’re looking to procure. Finding your knowledge base articles effectively places this potential customer at your digital storefront.

This wealth of information provides ample opportunities to incorporate relevant keywords and phrases, making it easily optimised for terms that are very likely to be at the forefront of your ideal customer’s mind. A capable SEO, or even someone who’s taken a cursory glance at Google’s People Also Asked panel, will likely find a variety of highly specific, long-tail keywords that can be easily integrated into a knowledge base for less competitive content opportunities.

Internal Linking

When it comes to internal links, a knowledge base is a great opportunity to link relevant pages and subjects, effectively passing authority across your site. Search engine bots crawling your site will use internal links to discover new pages and use anchor text for contextual clues on the page subject. Human users typically operate fairly similarly, following the path of links which you set out for them between your pages. Pages that acquire backlinks from other sites will distribute their link equity across your site through your internal links. Use these links wisely to curate a journey between relevant topics, taking users and search engines through your interconnected content ecosystem. This directly supports your SEO efforts, and eventually, they may land on a page that convinces them to become a customer.

Topical Authority

Within SEO, topical authority is the recognition of a site as the go-to source of information on a particular subject. When a site has achieved topical authority, it’s suggested that search engines consider it a reliable and notable source of information, and as such will reward it with better organic rankings for entities related to its primary topic. Knowledge bases are the perfect opportunity to progress in building topical authority by discussing your niche in detail.

So, it’s fair to say that knowledge bases present you with plenty of room to acquire additional organic traffic when implemented correctly. If you’re able to invest appropriate resource into the development of well-written, optimised and targeted content development, these areas of your site can be amazing for user experience and SEO.

How to Optimise Your Knowledge Base for SEO

Now you’re firmly convinced that your website needs a knowledge base, let’s take a look at some of the key considerations from an SEO perspective. This won’t be a complete guide on the technical aspects of developing a knowledge base on the web (leave that to the developers), but it will give you a good idea of the key things to consider if you want your knowledge base to perform its best in organic search.

Keyword Research & People Also Asked

Keyword research is the backbone of most SEO campaigns. You can use any keyword research tool of your choice to find relevant keywords, but a good free option would be Google Keyword Planner. Remember, a knowledge base is intended to provide knowledge, so make sure the keywords you’re selecting to base your pages around are targeting informational keywords. Your pages must convey information that will answer their questions, not attempt to sell them something.

Another great source of keywords/topics is Google’s People Also Asked panel. Simply search a query related to your niche and you’ll likely be provided with a range of similar questions. You can also use sites like AlsoAsked to find this data in a slightly more convenient fashion. You’ll often not find these suggestions using keyword research tools, so they can be great at picking up peripheral traffic that flies under the radar.
See below an example of People Also Asked:

Optimising Content

Once you’ve done some keyword research and are convinced you’ve found some great topics to tackle, make sure you’re optimising your content where possible. Craft relevant titles, headings and sub-headings with appropriate keywords. You don’t need to go crazy (keyword stuffing), but you’d be surprised how frequently I see articles that claim to target a specific term without actually mentioning that term on the page.

Media

Use appropriate images and video to support your articles where relevant. You can optimise images for organic search by considering their title, file name and alt text, making sure they’re responsive and compressed to an appropriate size for page speed. Video isn’t a direct ranking factor (you won’t get any kind of boost for simply embedding a video), however, they’re a great quality signal to users that content is well-considered, provided the video is relevant and adds context. There’s also plenty of evidence that videos improve conversions when on buying pages, which I think means people find them to be a trust signal of some kind.

Sitemap

You’ll need to ensure your knowledge base pages are contained within your XML sitemap and submitted to Google Search Console. If you’re using a CMS with an SEO plugin (like WordPress + Yoast), this will typically be taken care of automatically. This makes it easier for search engines to find and crawl your pages. You’d want to do this for any important page on your website, not just your knowledge base, but it’s worth noting.

Topic Clustering

Clustering connects pages by conceptual relationships using internal links. Essentially, you’re grouping a collection of related pages together, typically around a pillar page, which often serves as a centrepiece containing a broader overview of a subject. Below, you’ll find an example of a topic cluster which is centred around ‘Disney World Planning’ – the central page will cover each sub-topic in brief, while linking to a more detailed page on each individual sub-topic.

This kind of internal linking structure can be a very natural and helpful way to connect related concepts across your knowledge base, for both search engines and users. It will typically guide your visitors effectively between related concepts, allowing them to investigate new queries and concerns which are raised as they investigate the topic in more detail.

This approach can also support your progression towards topical authority, as you logically structure your knowledge base around central and related entities. You’ll have obvious clarity on the relationship between concepts and be able to readily increase the cluster pages as your site moves towards completeness on a particular subject.

Stay Up to Date

It should go without saying, but if your knowledge base describes something that is likely to change or develop over time, ensure you’re iterating on content as required to ensure it remains relevant and accurate. Having a knowledge base that is filled with out-of-date information is a great way to undermine your authority and credibility – don’t let it happen!

Listen to Your Customers

One of the less frequently considered SEO tactics is listening to your customers. Many SEOs spend their time locked in behind a computer screen, but if you’re looking for questions and queries that aren’t yet on the internet, your customers are the best people to speak with. So, if you’ve got a sales team (or you’re happy to speak with them yourself) you may want to get in touch to find some specific queries that could be addressed on your knowledge base. Sharing customer surveys can also be a great way of acquiring this kind of feedback on your products, service or industry. An undocumented question can quickly become a complete article on your new knowledge base.

Blogs vs Knowledge Bases For SEO

I think it’s important to differentiate between a blog and a knowledge base, in terms of both their appropriate uses and SEO. To many website owners, a blog is a standard feature which gets filled on an ad-hoc basis with an eclectic mix of industry news articles, company updates, opinion pieces and semi-optimised SEO blogs. Eventually, the articles which are at the front will be lost to the realms of pagination as they’re gradually pushed back to page 17 (and beyond) across the years.

With a knowledge base, we avoid creating a confusing mixture of barely related content for users and search engines to sift through. We also avoid our most valuable and readable pieces being pushed back and forgotten by pagination. Even with appropriate filtering, a traditional blog is a sub-optimal solution when looking to present your content in the most attractive and usable fashion. This is why, in my opinion, a knowledge base is a very sensible answer for any website that’s looking to deliver knowledge to its users.

Keep your blog for news, insights and industry updates. These things make sense to be organised chronologically, as is the case with most blogs. Your knowledge base should be used to house evergreen content, and should be structured according to topical relevance and user experience.

Examples of Powerful SEO Knowledge Bases

To give you some inspiration on particularly effective knowledge bases, I’ve included a handful of examples of knowledge bases done well.

Roofing Superstore

Roofing Superstore have a help and advice section which is packed with great articles on products and their applications. They have hundreds of excellently written and insightful articles that are well linked across this knowledge base, generating tens of thousands of organic clicks per month.

Read their great collection of articles here.

Kanbanize

Kanban are another example of a site with a well implemented and complete knowledge base. This area of the site has some very competitive #1 spots which are generating thousands of clicks per month in a very challenging space.

Check out their great work here.

Final Words on Knowledge Base SEO

Hopefully you’re convinced that no matter what industry you’re in, if you have information you want to share with readers online, a knowledge base is the way to go. They offer countless opportunities to create a voyage of discovery between related concepts for users and search engines, improving your organic performance along the way. Feel free to keep your blog but use it for content that makes sense to be arranged by date and which you’re happy to be pushed further out of view as relevance fades. Your knowledge base should remain a space dedicated exclusively to educating your visitors.

If you’re interested in developing this feature on your website, feel free to get in touch. We’ve developed hundreds of successful websites in our 20 years of experience.

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