The Key to SEO? Know Your Target!
For many online entrepreneurs, creating an SEO strategy sounds terribly intimidating. And I agree: Search engine optimization can be daunting if you’ve never worked with it before. It’s often seen as something to be left in the hands of tech-savvy computer scientists. However, this just isn’t true — the key to getting a handle on this aspect of online marketing is to simply understand what an SEO strategy is. And I have a hint to help you do this: SEO is not too different from traditional marketing.
Traditional Marketing vs. Online Marketing
In reality, SEO follows the same basic principles that traditional marketing and advertising strategies follow in the physical world. Any business trying to drive revenue growth has to know who is in its target market — and how to get that segment’s attention with an appealing, cost-effective message. That’s true for traditional marketing, and it’s still true for digital marketing. Basically, the only difference between traditional and digital marketing is that what consumers do, where they go, and what they look at isn’t about which streets they drive on or which events they attend. It’s about which search engine they use, which words they search for, and which links they click.
When you craft an SEO strategy, you need to follow these steps:
1) Choose Your Target
This should be the easy part. If you’ve taken the time to build a product or service, you should know exactly who you are targeting. Once you know your target, you can reverse-engineer the website so your keywords match the search phrases of your target audience.
2) Create a Web Profile of Your Target
Your target market is spending a lot of time on the Web doing searches and interacting on social networks. In order to create a profile of your online users, you’ll need to understand some specific information first.
Know your market demographics and psychographics. You need to understand your audience’s interests and lifestyles. Just like traditional marketing, an in-depth understanding of what people want and need is necessary for the creation of an SEO strategy. Some great sources for this data include the Facebook Ads Manager, Facebook
Insights, DoubleClick Ad Planner, and Kristalytics.
Know your target’s search habits. It’s crucial that you know which words and phrases your target is searching — otherwise, you don’t have an SEO strategy. Fortunately for all of us online entrepreneurs, there are plenty of tools to help us research search trends. These tools include, but are not limited to, Google’s Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, and Keyword Research Pro.
Know your target’s social network habits. The more time consumers spend on social networks, the more valuable these networks become to your SEO strategy. Consumers are influenced by the content on social networks, so you need to know the influencers in your industry, which memes are popular, and the general trends making an impact. You can gather data by using Topsy or the built-in search capabilities of Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
3) Create Content with the Competition and Customer in Mind
SEO would be extremely easy if all you had to do was know your customer and craft an appealing message. But business is competitive, and the fact remains that other businesses want to reach the same target you do. Understanding and capitalizing on your unique, competitive advantage will provide you ideas for content that will set your business apart.
In the End, Marketing is Marketing
SEO can sound intimidating, but the key to a great SEO strategy is simply choosing a customer, completely understanding that customer, and keeping your competition and customer in mind when creating content. Sounds familiar, right?
SEO may only be a decade or two old, but it follows the principle laid out 2,000 years ago by the Roman statesman Cicero: “If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.” If you wish to know your target’s thoughts, feelings, and words, use the tools above to learn about your target. Soon, your digital efforts will transform to provide more consumer engagement and higher conversion rates.
Michael Marshall is the lead instructor and owner of the Search Engine Academy of North Carolina. He has more than 24 years’ worth of experience in information technology, covering a wide range of specialties including web design, software engineering, ecommerce solutions, artificial intelligence, and Internet marketing. He is a member of the World Association of Internet Marketers and of SEO Professionals. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.