3 Steps to Define Your Target Audience for Your SEO Program

3 elderly women represent a target audience.
Do you know your audience? Like, really know your audience? Many businesses have a vague idea of who their target audience is and what they want but haven’t taken the time to do the research.

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

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.

Without knowing what your target audience is searching for, you have less of a chance of doing so. 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.

Who Is My Audience and What Do They Want?

Here are three steps you can take to get to the heart of the question: Who is my audience and what do they want?

1. Demographics

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 you can understand and target your audience with relevant messaging.

If you’re targeting a business:

  • Industry
  • Products or services
  • Annual revenue
  • Company age
  • Location
  • 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.

Chart displaying demographic data in Google Universal Analytics.
Demographic data in Google Universal Analytics

2. Keywords

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.
Commissioned study “Why Search + Social = Success For Brands,” Forrester Consulting Research.
Source: “Why Search + Social = Success For Brands,” Forrester Consulting Research

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:

3. Interviews

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, and 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 they decide to buy or sign 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?

Other 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 find what they need with ease?)
  • The information is helpful on your website
  • The site is easy to use from any device
  • They are pleased with the customer service options

Next, Create Your Personas

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 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

Your Target Audience and Their Journey Matters in SEO

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 that a person takes on their way to making 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.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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36 Replies to “3 Steps to Define Your Target Audience for Your SEO Program”

really helpful Additionally, we are adopting SEO for our Toronto fitness centre.

Great tips! People tend to use more and more savings when they shop online, so these are some really helpful ideas here in this blog thanks for sharing.

Outstanding blog as usual, keep it up.Good Blog

Outstanding blog as usual, keep it up.

SEO service in todays date is really necessary for any business owners either its small or huge every providers need to be in top in google search, for an higher traffic value you have to work on your SEO service for better visitors.

Thanks for sharing this amazing information. You provide really helpful information about SEO for blogger working as beginners . thanks a lot

You must fish where the fish are in addition to having the bait that the fish are eating if you want to catch them. You get both with a correct persona identification. Even if you believe it to be inconsequential, it will still prevent you from eating fish for dinner.

If you don’t have the correct material that appeals to them when they arrive at your website, it may have a negative effect on your conversion rates.

As usual, Bruce, a fantastic post! In marketing, it’s crucial to target the right audience because doing so can help us save time and effort.

To build content for your website around those search terms, you need to be aware of what they are. This aids search engines in determining whether your website corresponds to the needs of your target audience.

Use a sample of your target audience to provide feedback on their experience with your website. This is another type of qualitative research you may want to think about. There are businesses that can assist you with this kind of research.

You want your website to appear in the search results when your target audience uses a search engine to look for what you have to offer. You must use the proper bait and place it where fish may see it. This seems obvious to me.

As usual, Bruce, a fantastic post! In marketing, it’s crucial to target the right audience because doing so can help us save time and effort.

Fantastic post as usual, Bruce! Many individuals are unaware of how important it is to track and target your SEO audiences. Many of our clients just believe that achieving high rankings for popular keywords is the panacea.

Utreon and a couple other YouTube options you brought up are unfamiliar to me! Certainly will look at them… More places to put content = more leads and clients!

When you know who your target market is, you can focus your marketing efforts and dollars on the people who are most likely to buy from you.

That’s really wonderful information and perfect guide to effective marketing strategy to reach targeted audience. Thank you for tips of considering relevant keywords used by targeted audience in search engines

Hurrah! Finally, I got a website from where I am capable of actually taking helpful facts concerning my study and knowledge.

Thanks for sharing helpful content for SEO users.

Great blog. I definitely will return here.

the information laid down was excellent in getting to know the steps to define the target audience for the SEO program.

Defining Your Target Audience Makes It Easier to Put Together an Effective SEO Strategy. Defining your target audience means that you’re able to: Conduct more targeted keyword research to identify the search terms you should be optimizing for.

Simply said, “the people you wish to attract to your website are your target audience.” This means that your target audience for SEO services is made up of current or potential clients who use search engines to find businesses similar to yours. This is who should visit the site.

Simply said, “your target audience are the people you want to attract to your website.” In terms of SEO services, this means that your target audience consists of present or potential clients who use search engines to identify businesses similar to yours. These are the people who should come to the site.

Excellent job done. You provide really helpful information about SEO for blogger working as beginners . thanks a lot

Your article gives helpful information for beginners.. Thank you.

the blog was great in describing steps to get the target audience from the SEO program

Great post as usual Bruce! in marketing targeting a relevant audience is important if we do so we can save time and effort.

Very useful. We are also implementing SEO for our fitness gym which is in Toronto

Great post per usual Bruce! Many people do not understand that tracking and targeting your SEO audiences is just as crucial as PPC. Many of our clients just think that ranking for high traffic keywords is the answer to everything, but they soon realize that the holy grail is in understanding how your audience converts, not just your rankings.

the article was great in describing steps to get the target audience from the SEO program

Identifying your audience allows your business to focus marketing efforts and dollars on the groups that are most likely to buy from you.

Excellent blog as always keep it up.

Lately, I was looking for information like this. THANK YOU

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