SEO and Technical Writing

How can SEO and technical writing be connected? Well, these two concepts are strongly connected, nowadays.

Today, documentation is created online because it’s easier to get the target audience — the majority of people use PC and mobile devices to read user manuals. In this case, SEO helps to make your documentation more searchable on the web. How can you use SEO to make your online docs more popular? Keep reading!

Create User-Friendly Content

Nowadays, keywords are not so important for web crawlers like Googlebot. Google introduced BERT. It is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

It was opened-sourced last year and written about in more detail on the Google AI blog. In short, BERT can help computers understand language a bit more like humans do.

Google said BERT helps better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results. It is also used for featured snippets, as described above.

That’s why the main SEO aspect is to create human-friendly content. However, it should not be nonsense for you, because the main purpose of technical writers is to create documentation that users will easily understand.

Add Meta Tags

Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s source code. Meta tags are essentially little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.

The title tag would be the most crucial on-page SEO factor for documentation. The title tag itself is what search engines use to display as search results. But you can also add some keywords just before the title to achieve a stronger SEO effect.

Another useful thing is a meta description. It can be assigned to each topic individually if it’s possible in your help authoring tool, and search engines are going to show it in search results as a page description snippet.

Use Alt Text

An alternate text is a text that’s put in the properties of the table or image. As I described in my previous article called Accessibility and Technical Writing, screen readers rely on this text, in order to vocalize tables and images. The text should not only describe the look but the content and intent of the table or image. You can learn more about effective alt text here: Effective Image Alt Text in Technical Writing.

If you want more tips, here is a free ebook that fully describes SEO tips for technical writing:

Written by
Ann Green
Content Manager at ClickHelp. In my blog, I write about technical writing.