3 Steps to Define Your Target Audience for Your SEO Program
In this article, I’ll explain why defining your target audience is important and how to figure out who they are and what they want.
- Why understanding your target audience is important to SEO
- Who is my audience and what do they want?
- Next, create your personas
- Your target audience and their journey matters to SEO
- FAQ: How can demographic data enhance audience targeting strategies?
Of late, there has been talk that persona identification is a waste of time. I think that persona identification has been in marketing for decades, long before digital. It is an integral part of marketing, even if it is not properly labeled.
Let’s use an example: fishing. If you want to catch fish, you need two things: you need the bait your fish are eating, and you need to fish where the fish are. A proper persona identification gives you both. You may think it is unimportant, but then you are not having fish for dinner.
When your target audience searches for what you offer using a search engine, you want your website to show up in the search results. You need the right bait and to put it where your fish can see it. To me, this is obvious.
You have less chance of doing so without knowing what your target audience is searching for. And, when they get to your website, if you don’t have the right content that resonates with them, it can negatively impact your conversions.
Here are three steps you can take to get to the heart of the question: Who is my audience, and what do they want?
Build a profile of your target audience (and you may have more than one) by exploring the following data points and more.
If you’re targeting a consumer:
- Gender can impact buying patterns.
- Age can impact buying decisions.
- Location of where they are informs your marketing strategy.
- Marital status can impact your audience’s priorities.
- Education level can help you communicate better with them.
- Occupation information helps you with more targeted marketing.
- Income helps you understand what level of investment they may be willing to make.
- Beliefs help you better understand what matters to them.
- Lifestyle is another way to understand and target your audience with relevant messaging.
If you’re targeting a business:
- Products or services
- Annual revenue
- Company age
- Number of employees
- Key decision-makers within the company (roles)
Even when a business is your target audience, there are certain roles within that company you will be targeting (like a consumer). So getting to the heart of what those decision-makers want will be important. (More on that later.)
There are several ways you can gather market research like this. There are companies out there that exist that only do this type of thing.
There is also your Google Analytics account, which can give you key data about the audience that is already coming to your website.
If you’re using the Universal Analytics version of Google Analytics, the audience reports can show you everything from demographics and interests to location, devices used, and more.
Search engines are usually the starting point for people to discover products, brands, or services and for the consideration phase as well. According to Forrester Consulting research:
- Seventy-one percent use search engines as the starting point for discovery.
- Seventy-four percent use search engines for consideration/purchase.
Keywords are the search queries that your target audience uses in search engines to find what they are looking for.
You need to know what those search queries are so that you can create content for your website around them. This helps the search engines determine that your website is a relevant match for what your target audience is looking for.
Without this critical step in knowing what your audience wants, your website may never have a chance to be found.
For more information, check out:
One of the best ways to get to know your target audience is to take a sample of it and interview them. This could be by web survey or phone.
Make sure to get a sample that represents all your target customers, so it may vary by product or service. Then, craft the questions that can help you get into their minds.
The Buyer Persona Institute recommends asking questions like:
- Why do they decide to buy or sign up for your product, service, or other solution?
- How do they evaluate their options before buying or signing up?
- What prevents them from buying or signing up?
- What results do they expect from buying or signing up for your product, service, or other solution?
You can also glean insights by better understanding their behavior online, such as:
- Which publications do they read?
- What websites do they frequent?
- Who do they follow on social media?
- What are their active social media profiles like?
Another qualitative research you might want to consider: use a sample of your target audience to give feedback on your website experience. There are companies out there that can help you conduct this type of research.
For example, you could find out if:
- Your website is easily navigable (Can people easily find what they need?)
- The information is helpful on your website
- The site is easy to use from any device
- They are pleased with the customer service options
Once you have gathered the necessary data on your target audience using some or all the research steps outlined in this article, it’s time to create the persona profiles. You will have one of these for each of the types of people you are targeting.
A persona is an archetype of your target audience. You will reference it again and again as you create content and other SEO campaigns to ensure that what you are doing is relevant to that archetype.
There are a variety of different ways to create the actual persona profile, but it is usually a document that can be one page (or more) and sums up the data you discovered in the research.
Google “persona profile examples” and you’ll get a bunch of ideas on how to put one together visually.
For more, see: Web Personas: Creating Jane
SEO is very much a part of the customer journey.
A customer journey, also known as a buyer journey or consumer decision journey, is the steps a person takes to make a decision to buy a product, sign up for service, or convert in some other way.
Of course, behavioral intent can shift as people go through the customer journey. Most people start out with an informational intent, then move through their research and investigation phases before reaching the point when they’re ready to buy (the transactional intent phase).
Behavioral intent categories should supplement, not replace, understanding your personas. Knowing your audience is the first step in making sure your SEO efforts are on target so that you can bring in the right organic search traffic and convert your visitors.
If you’d like to discuss your particular marketing challenges and how the team at Bruce Clay can help you, contact us for a free quote and start the conversation today.
Crafting campaigns that genuinely connect with your audience demands a deep understanding of their needs and preferences. Demographic data can be an invaluable asset to marketers. Demographic characteristics like age, gender, and location give marketers invaluable insights.
Demographic data serves as the foundation of audience targeting. Marketers gain a comprehensive picture of their potential customers by analyzing this data. Take age, for instance. A younger audience might respond better to social media campaigns, while an older demographic could engage more with traditional advertising channels. Armed with such insights, marketers can tailor their messaging to each group’s preferences, increasing the likelihood of capturing their attention.
Location is another critical demographic factor. Regional nuances often impact consumer behavior and preferences. A product that sells well in one area might not resonate in another due to varying cultural norms or economic conditions. Marketers can develop region-specific campaigns that foster a stronger connection and drive conversions by segmenting audiences based on location.
Gender plays a significant role in crafting targeted marketing. Consider skincare products. Men and women might have distinct preferences, leading to tailored messaging for each gender. These nuances extend to language and imagery choices, which can profoundly impact how a message is received. By aligning campaigns with gender preferences, marketers showcase their understanding and connect on a more personal level.
Educational background is a valuable demographic dimension. A highly educated audience might appreciate in-depth content and technical details, while a less-educated group may prefer simpler language and visuals. By gauging educational levels, marketers can adjust the complexity of their content to ensure it resonates with the audience’s intellectual level, enhancing engagement and comprehension.
Demographic data empowers marketers to go beyond assumptions and create campaigns founded on real insights. Demographic data forms a powerful toolkit for crafting highly personalized strategies when combined with other factors like psychographics and purchase behavior. By recognizing the unique characteristics of their audience, marketers can establish trust, deliver value, and drive results.
Step-by-Step Procedure: Enhancing Audience Targeting Strategies with Demographic Data
- Define Your Target Audience: Clearly identify the audience you want to reach and understand their potential demographic characteristics.
- Gather Data: Collect relevant demographic data through surveys, forms, and analytics tools.
- Analyze Age and Gender: Examine age and gender distributions to tailor content and messaging appropriately.
- Consider Location: Analyze geographical data to create location-specific campaigns and promotions.
- Assess Educational Levels: Understand the educational background of your audience to adapt content complexity.
- Segment Audience: Divide your audience into subgroups based on demographic traits.
- Develop Persona Profiles: Create detailed personas representing different demographic segments.
- Craft Targeted Messages: Create messages that resonate with each persona’s preferences and needs.
- Choose Communication Channels: Select communication channels favored by different demographic groups.
- Language and Tone: Use language and tone that align with your audience’s preferences.
- Personalize Content: Tailor content to reflect the unique characteristics of each demographic segment.
- Test and Optimize: Run A/B tests to refine your strategies and optimize engagement.
- Iterate and Learn: Continuously analyze results and iterate based on performance.
- Combine Data: Combine demographic data with psychographics and purchase behavior for a comprehensive view.
- Leverage Technology: Use data analytics tools to gain deeper insights into audience preferences.
- Update Regularly: Keep demographic data up-to-date to reflect evolving audience characteristics.
- Adapt to Trends: Stay attuned to shifting demographic trends to adjust strategies accordingly.
- Monitor Engagement: Track engagement metrics to measure the success of your targeted campaigns.
- Refine Over Time: Refine strategies based on ongoing analysis and feedback from the audience.
- Build Trust: Consistently deliver relevant, personalized content to build trust and loyalty.
By leveraging demographic data in audience targeting, marketers unlock the potential to create impactful campaigns that resonate on a personal level. Understanding the unique characteristics of your audience empowers you to deliver the right message through the right channels, fostering deeper connections and driving meaningful results.