When you need Help, do you press F1 or search Google?
I was at two clients in Cambridge earlier in the week, where the conversation turned to the Internet generation and how they search for information. Both publish their user documentation on their Web site, as well publish traditional PDFs and online Help files.
The first client said that they'd found from their recent customer usability studies that the first action for 50% of those studied was to go to Google - even when they knew there was F1 online Help available. They said it was essential the Help content was available on the Web - otherwise, users would be relying on information outside of the client's control.
The second client said they'd analysed the key word searches on their Web site and from Google. As a consequence, they were re-writing the Help topic meta data and titles so that they'd appear higher up the rankings. In some cases they were having to create content containing mis-spellings, which they said went against the grain.
It surprises me how few organisations make their user documentation findable through the search engines, and how few do any Search Engine Optimisation. As our first client indicated, if they don't use your information they they may well be using someone else's.