For content marketers, getting paid to be creative every day is usually a blessing, but it’s not always easy. This is particularly true for content marketers working in highly technical industries.
In addition to the normal difficulties of content marketing—SEO updates, consistency, quality, etc.—technical content is extremely, well … technical. Writing authoritative, compelling copy requires more than just a basic understanding of your products.
How do you translate those ideas and concepts for a blog audience? If you don’t actually work in IT, how do you get your colleagues to carve time out of their already busy schedules to help you create meaningful content?
It can seem overwhelming, but what if I told you that you don’t have to do either one of those things? That the content your audience wants—the stuff they’re already looking for, and the stuff that will provide a big boost to brand authority and sales—already exists, and is hiding in plain site?
It’s true. You just have to know how to find it, and you might have to sacrifice some sacred cows in the process.
Good content marketing always starts with keyword and user intent research. Before you can create great content for your audience, you have to know how they’re using search engines and what they want to find.
In tech industries, the answers to those questions aren’t what content marketers usually expect. Many marketers work hard to translate technical topics into layman’s terms, and to incorporate as many savvy content marketing tactics as possible.
But the truth is, typical content marketing is not what most technical audiences are looking for.
Highly technical audiences—like cloud architects and developers—are looking for detailed, lengthy, highly technical content that answers very specific questions and pain points. We know this from looking at search results for key terms. For example, search results for [git rebase] (a decent term, with about 65,000 monthly searches) start with:
For highly technical industries, search queries around applications and even peripherally related technical terms almost always have strong “learn” intents. Users want the dense, difficult, technical content that answers their questions. Technology is their business and livelihood: they want to (1) make sure they understand how any supporting solution works, and (2) trust the authority and knowledge of the company producing it. Then, after making a purchase, those same customers need to learn how to use the product and overcome mistakes or fix errors.
Despite some of the best content marketing advice, considerations like creative headlines, compelling content, and user-friendly page design are almost irrelevant to this audience. They want real, authoritative answers.
Most of the content you need already exists. You don’t need to wait on coworkers who have a high level of technical knowledge to help you create new content content. Your brand’s internal and support documentation has everything you need.
Yet many technical companies structure help documentation completely apart from their marketing sites, and often in formats that are not convenient for users or search engines. These companies are making it harder for users to find critical information, but are also missing out on an easy and invaluable opportunity to connect with potential customers and demonstrate their knowledge and authority.
Providing search-optimized answers to common questions your customers and prospects ask, satisfying consumer needs, building brand trust and authority, and increasing organic traffic is as simple as repurposing and reformatting existing support documentation.
In many cases, transforming technical documentation into traffic-driving content is a simple matter of organizing, optimizing, and repurposing it to make it more user-friendly and indexable.
The first step is to gather all the PDFs, hardcopy manuals, and other documentation you can get your hands on. Next, review the documentation, looking for opportunities that fit easily into your content strategy.
Keep in mind that Google prefers to index and serve HTML files, so the more content you break out of manuals and PDFs to serve on individual HTML pages, the more organic traffic you’re likely to bring in through SEO.
If your company is hosting most of this documentation on a subdomain or DocHub, and you don’t have the resources to commit to a serious repurposing just yet, your SEO will still benefit dramatically from thoughtful organization and content updates to the subdomain.
A lot of brands use those subfolders simply to collect support documentation. Little thought is given to how they are organized, because … well it’s just support documentation. They aren’t sales or product pages, right? But, as we’ve seen, that content is what users are searching for, so it has a lot of potential to drive organic traffic.
While some of the content you’re looking for will be easy to find—product manuals are likely available in abundance—others will require a little more investigation. To uncover all optimizable documentation, you can search in a variety of places:
These sources will provide information on which queries customers are asking about most often, providing an easy way to prioritize what documentation needs to be revised and optimized first.
Optimizing support documentation is a simple way to grow organic site traffic and increase your brand authority and credibility. Additionally, it can improve your ROI by decreasing call volume—reducing incoming calls to sales team members and your customer service department.
Since the content already exists, optimizing it is a simple matter of collecting documentation, analyzing it to identify common themes, and repurposing it in a way that is both consumable by customers and indexable by search engines. Depending on how much documentation your company already has, rounds of review, repurposing, and republishing can keep your calendar full for months.
Sifting through all product documentation may sound like a daunting task, so start small by reading through documents that are readily available. This will allow you to begin organizing your site to accommodate for optimized help documentation as well as measuring success—via increased traffic, reduced call volume, or higher customer satisfaction—that results from the initial stages of your new strategy.