One of the most common questions many business owners ask is “Do I need to know who my target audience is for my SEO marketing to be effective?”
Since the answer to this question is multi-layered (and possibly confusing to anyone unfamiliar with search engine optimization aka SEO), we turned to Results Repeat’s Senior Director of Operations, Kevin Whitbeck for his invaluable insight.
With over 10 years of experience in SEO and digital marketing, Kevin is an expert at developing strategies that convey each client’s specific business objectives and improve their customers’ website experience. He’s also incredibly adept at breaking down complex SEO strategies and making them more accessible for all audiences.
How do you define a target audience?
KW: Defining your target audience depends on two things:
- Your business type
- Who you want to sell your products or services to.
First, you determine the various demographics that you’re looking at. Are you looking to connect with people in a specific age or income range? Does gender play a factor? These are some of the important questions you’ll need to ask to determine your target audience.
Once you have your demographics sorted, you’ll break them down into various subgroups. Who are the people most likely to engage with your business? What service or product do you offer that best suits their needs?
But to truly define your target audience, you also have to look at industry trends and your competitors, too. Take an in-depth look at their websites. This gives you an idea of who’s interacting with those types of sites with those particular products.
Doing the research and finding the answers are the keys to defining your target audience.
Why is it important to know your target audience when it comes to SEO?
KW: Knowing your target audience helps you understand how they interact with your website.
Right now, Google pays a lot of attention to the intent of searches. Understanding intent helps Google provide relevant search results that best answer users’ questions.
When you know your target audience, you can define the intent of their specific queries. What is the purpose of their visit to your site? Are they visiting your website to make a purchase? Is their search query related to finding more information about your products or services?
Audiences search for those answers in different ways. So you need to understand what the intent of those phrases are to better answer the audience’s question.
Optimizing your website content to reflect these queries improves your search results.
Do you recommend casting a wide net to reach a broad target audience? Why or why not?
KW: Tactically, it’s going to vary from website-to-website.
The wider the net that’s cast, the more competitive it is.
At the same time, if you’re able to optimize and earn ranking for more broadly-based topical phrases, you’re going to create greater visibility for your brand or your product.
So it depends on what stage your business is in.
Are you a well-known brand that’s recognized everywhere? If so, you can cast a wider net. You have greater brand authority. People are aware of who you are. So there’s greater likelihood for you to capture some of those users if your targeting is broad.
A less known brand can benefit from a wider net, too. This is true if an audience doesn’t understand your business model. Or they’re unaware of your full product line. Launching a broad campaign provides an opportunity to educate audiences about your brand.
In other cases, a wide net can hurt your search results. Although it attracts all types of users to your website with broad topical phrases, those words don’t relate to any specific intent. While lots of users may visit your site due to increasing visibility, they won’t engage with it in any meaningful way. And you won’t enjoy any leads or conversions.
So there’s opportunities for both. It not only depends on the lifecycle that your businesses or your product is in. It also depends on the authority that you need to develop to bring qualified audiences in.
What are the drawbacks of not having comprehensive knowledge of your audience when investing in SEO?
KW: You’d be missing opportunities.
If you don’t understand your audience, then you won’t produce valuable content that appeals to their needs, likes and interests.
With a comprehensive understanding of those groups, you can speak directly to your audience.
In what ways can SEO actually help clients better understand their target audience?
KW: In many ways.
You’ll bring in traffic to your website through SEO. Organic search has a wide berth, so once users come to your website, you can use various tools to see what types of queries they’re making in the search engines. You’ll discover the topics they’re researching to identify your website or get your site to show up in their search results. Use this information to create new or improve existing content to make it more relevant to what your target audience is searching.
How do users engage with your website once they’re there? Tools like Google Analytics help you understand how users are interacting with your website.
Are they coming to your site from a search engine, landing on that page, reading the content, and then engaging further?
Or, are they coming to the site, seeing content that doesn’t answer their question, and immediately leaving? Google Analytics provides valuable data that can help to inform your content strategy and help you identify ways to improve how you guide users through your website. Keeping them engaged and leading them to a conversion point.
There’s a lot of different tools that you can use based on audience-driven strategies to analyze how they perform and tweak and move forward or away from the direction that you need to be in.
What are some other ways you recommend determining your target audience?
KW: Doing more research.
Digging into various competitors within your industry and reviewing the types of targets they have in place. Look at how they convey their content to their users. Learn how they engage with their users. Those can be telltale signs of opportunities that you’re missing when you speak to your audience.
You can use social media and actually see how audiences engage with other brands or topics that align with your business. This allows you to discover what’s top of mind for your audience and how they actually speak about these things. Various forums and greater marketing research journals also provide information along those lines, too.
Plus, there’s a breadth of data that comes from all of the different marketing channels that you’re using. You can do research based on how those other channels are performing or interacting with your brand and similar brands. With that information, you can fine tune your targeting of audiences. You can also identify target audiences that you may not have considered in the first place.
If you’re interested in learning how Results Repeat and our team of marketing experts can help your company define its target audience for SEO, please contact us today!