At its most simple core, SEO is essentially a set of ever-changing rules and criteria by which a website and its content must be structured in order to achieve the best possible search engine result for whatever target audience and the keyword is needed.
But before the intricacies of SEO even begin, the groundwork has to be laid down first – specifically, you have to understand whom you’re trying to target in the first place.
That’s the key to a user-centric approach, and when you’re running a company that’s looking to use its budget as conservatively and effectively as possible, going user-centric can help you find the efficiency you need. In fact, one company gained in sales leads by 124 percent after implementing user-tailored content, according to Single Grain. As such, you start at the beginning, with the user persona.
First of All: What Is a User Persona?
The user persona is your core when designing an effective targeting campaign – it’s a hypothetical profile you build with the rest of your company in an attempt to come as close as possible to the idea of who your customer most probably is.
You don’t just begin with a single user profile; you build several. About six or so should be enough to begin with, and they should all be focused on a number of key criteria:
- A user title: To begin with a single profile, you’ll need an easy-to-remember title to go with when describing the persona. Something like “Jack the Mechanic”, or “Howard the Bookworm”. Take a memorable trait, and use it to frame your persona.
- Age and gender: This is straightforward and important. Ads and content are read and received differently by women than men, and on the other end, young people usually have vastly different interests from older generations. What age and sex would your product appeal to the most, and why?
- Socio-Economic and Family background: If your product or service applies to working moms, stressed fathers, and young budding entrepreneurs alike, you’ll need a separate persona and family background for each. The key is to understand your potential customer base and go from there. Who can afford your product, and who is most likely to use it?
- Education and career level: Are you marketing to businesses and business individuals? Do you sell products and services catering to marketers, entrepreneurs and the like? Is your service of more use to students, academics and researchers? Or is it a family-oriented product?
- Likes, dislikes and interests: Imagine your target audience, and try to imagine what likes and dislikes would coincide with your product. What’s really important, here, is getting an idea of what your customers enjoy and love.
- Motivations and Goals: These aren’t meant to be life aspirations. They’re meant to be a persona’s motivations with your product. If, for example, you sell cleaning supplies, then you’ll have different motivations and goals listed for a busy working mother concerned with the welfare of her children than you will for the head of the housekeeping department at a local hotel who’s looking to outsource staff and supplies in an efficient, yet standards-compliant manner.
- Technological proficiency: A complete user persona will also encompass how proficient the target audience is in using certain technological tools. You’ll have to market and design your product differently depending on which audience you’re marketing to. Say, for example, you’re selling a software that will allow users to easily convert video, or create video through the splicing of still images and audio files. If you’re marketing to families looking to create and share memories or easily convert an incompatible video file into a compatible one for a mobile device, you’ll want to focus on ease of usage and a simplistic user interface. For professionals, however, you’ll want to focus on functionality, and a feature-heavy program for serious video editors and enthusiasts.
- Location: This is largely based on where your business is at – although it’s rather obvious that you’re not going to be marketing your product in India if you’re working with a California-based business and an SEO company in Los Angeles like SeoTuners. At the same time, though, you’ll want varied approaches for different user personas if your product is sold internationally.
How SEO Can Help Target Your User Persona
Once you’ve developed an idea of what your ideal audience looks like, content targeting and SEO techniques come into play. In the first place, the number one usage for targeting and profiling in marketing might be to direct paid ads towards very specific user profiles, but there’s a strong link between search engine optimization and user personas.
On the technical side of things, writing content specifically for one location will help search engines pick up on the location and rate your website as a better match for any given user’s queries. Some users will also specify the need for a certain criteria within their search. For example, the search phrase “suspensions for race cars” is specifically looking for online retailers of suspension kits for racers, while the search phrase “ceramic plate set for small family” is specifically looking for a ceramic plate set meant for four or six individuals.
The more specific you can get with your SEO tactics, the better your results will be. You won’t just see an increase in traffic; because of the validity of the content, you may also see higher conversion rates among your given user personas. Conversion rates are key, as proper SEO techniques may land you higher up on Google, Bing and Yahoo’s results. But it’s the actual content itself that will ultimately decide whether or not a customer will be convinced to purchase a product or service from you.
Match Your Persona with Real Data
Once you’ve started using user personas to develop better SEO tactics, it’s time to utilize your results and improve your technique. Get a proper web analytics tool to take an in-depth look at the average demographics of your visitors, and the user persona most likely to purchase from you. The key to conversions with personas, as Smart Insights states, is objectivity and data-driven changes.
If your product has been more popular among younger users, prioritize and update your user personas to reflect that data. Doing so will help you net even more conversions within your strongest demographic, and that’ll be better for your company’s growth.