Audience Profiles & Keyword Searches

There’s an important connection between really understanding your audience and finding the keywords that provide the right foundation for your marketing and SEO. Keyword searches are highly individual, reflecting a user’s vocabulary and intentions. Sometimes the relationship is as simple as understanding how two prospects talk about the same product, e.g. spaghetti and pasta. Both terms refer to the same thing, potentially, but if you don’t know which one your audience uses you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. This is about more than generating a huge list of keyword possibilities; it’s about having the data to filter and prioritize those possibilities in a way that meaningfully connects to your audience.
Understanding your audience can also help you filter buying intent. There are two primary types of keywords, informational keywords and intentional keywords. Informational keywords are simple and tie to a desire to learn more about a specific topic, e.g. “What is SEO?” Other keywords indicate that a searcher has a clear intention to buy, or to move along with a specific process. Consider for example, “Best SEO Agency in Boston.” This searcher is likely looking to speak to someone and learn more, probably with the intent to hire. A closer look at your customer’s buying journey will give you insights into each step of the process, and let you tie that back to your keyword searches in a meaningful way.

Customer Profile Breakdowns

One last note on customer profiles. You often hear about organizations that go through the process of creating audience profiles, only to see them sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Like any tool, audience profiles are only useful if they’re created well and put to use. Here’s a closer look at some of the reasons why avatars don’t make an impact on the business:
  1. They lack a foundation in data: Customer profiles need to be based on real data. It doesn’t matter how creative and engaging your descriptions are if they don’t offer deep, actionable insights into the mindset and behaviors of your audience. Build strong profiles based on customer data, in-depth research, and interviews and surveys.
  2. They’re not well-rounded: There are a number of different sources that you can gather customer data. If you base your profiles on limited sources, you may not get the insights that really bring your customers to life. Consider profile written by a sales person with anecdotal experience of customers. How much richer will that profile be if it integrates website analytics, market research report data, and focus group input?
  3. They’re all data and no soul: You can also fall into the problem where your profiles are simply a list of data. “Male, 18-25, lives on the West Coast, income under $50,000 per year”, yet it fails to really capture the insights that your team needs to make a sale. If your profiles don’t push for a more meaningful analysis into context and motivation, that’s going to limit how useful they are.
  4. They’re not valued: Finally, some companies simply don’t create a culture where avatars are shared and valued. This starts with education. Ensure that everyone on your team understands how customer profiles are created, how they’re used, and has access to the data. Treat them as a valuable starting point, and they’ll add depth and value to your market efforts.
A solid understanding of your customer base informs everything you do, from linking efforts to content marketing and social media. With this in mind, we’ll take a closer look at how linking practices take shape in 2014 and what you need to know to create an effective link-focused SEO strategy.
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