The search bar is arguably the most important tool on your knowledge base. After all, your ultimate guides and FAQ pages aren't much use if you don't have a way to navigate them and find exactly what you're looking for.
If you don't have a database that's optimized for search, eventually it will have too many articles for users to sort through. Customers will spend hours looking for solutions, or they may give up and contact your support team, which defeats the purpose of your self-service knowledge base.
The best knowledge bases make it easy to find information quickly. They're segmented based on product or topic, and their copy uses vocabulary that's familiar to the reader. When a user enters an inquiry into the search bar, it presents a clear list of results that are relevant to the visitor's question. Even if the customer can't find a definitive solution, navigating the knowledge base comfortably helps create a positive service experience.
In this post, we'll go through some best practices you can use to make your knowledge base articles more searchable. That way, you'll help customers find solutions to their problems, and all your hard work maintaining and updating support articles won't go to waste.
How to Optimize Your Knowledge Base Search
1. Use Keywords In Your Titles and Page Copy.
When a user enters an inquiry into a search bar, that word or phrase is sent to a server that searches the website for a match. Once all of the matches are found, the server returns with a list of links for the user.
To make this matchmaking process more efficient, you should include keywords in your page titles and page copy. Keywords are words or phrases that are significant to a specific topic. For example, if I searched, "What is customer service?" The keyword in that sentence would be "customer service."
The more you can include keywords in your page titles and page copy the more searchable your knowledge base will be. That's because when you use words and phrases that are familiar to your customers, you have a better chance of matching the inquiries searched on your site.
2. Pay Attention to Long-Tail Keywords.
Long-tail keywords are more specific than normal keywords. They have higher word counts and are directed toward a very specific topic. They usually have less search volume, but they have high conversion rates because they're high-intent searches.
Here's an example. A normal keyword may be something like, "buy shoes." A long-tailed keyword related to this search could be, "buy durable waterproof shoes near me." This is a more specific topic, however, we know exactly what this person is looking for when they use a long-tailed keyword. Although there are thousands of different shoes you can buy, the market is significantly narrowed when you add words like "durable" and "waterproof" to the keyword.
The same goes for your knowledge base. If you include long-tailed keywords in your text, you'll make your content more accessible by anticipating these detailed search queries.
3. Make Your Search Bar Clear and Accessible.
Sometimes it's not that your content isn't searchable, it's that your search bar itself could use some improvement. If it's too small or in a hard-to-find spot, visitors might think you don't have a search bar included in your knowledge base. And, if they don't think it exists, they're going to either manually search the database — creating a friction-filled experience — or they're going to call your support team for help — creating the opposite effect that your knowledge base should have.
Your search bar should be displayed prominently at the top and bottom of your knowledge base. The top option lets users search immediately once they access your site, and the bottom option lets them type a new search if they reach the end of a page and still need more information. Having both available encourages people to use your search bar, ideally leading to an improved self-service experience.
4. Optimize Your Mobile Interface.
Knowledge bases should be treated as complete sections of your website. That means they should be responsive to both desktop and mobile interfaces. You never know when a customer is going to need an answer on the go or decides to use their tablet in a meeting instead of a laptop. If your knowledge base only renders well on a computer, your phone and tablet users will have a tougher time finding solutions.
5. Connect Related Pages With Topic Clusters.
Another way to make your knowledge base more searchable is to interlink your related pages into topic clusters. By using hyperlinks to direct users between similar pages, your search engine will likely recognize this content as a unified group. So, when visitors search for a keyword in a known topic cluster, they'll see more options related to that overarching topic than random results.
For example, if someone wants to renew their subscription they may write, "renew subscription" in the search bar. Without topic clusters, your search engine may lock in on the word, "renew" instead of "subscription," and show you results that have nothing to do with subscription settings. But, if you have a "billing" topic cluster, you'll have a higher chance of getting more results related to a subscription-based question.
Similar to adding keywords, you need to anticipate what topics your customers will be searching for and group these resources together to make them easier to find.