You’ve probably heard the term before. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. And you likely have at least somewhat of an inkling of what it is and how it works —that it involves keyword and topic research, content creation, and so on.
Truth is, it’s about a lot more than that. It’s about knowing your audience. Who they are, what they’re looking for, and why they’d be interested in your business.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with a more thorough explanation of SEO before going further.
What Is SEO?
SEO is, as you might expect, the optimization of digital content so that it displays at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), or as near to it as possible. Although keywords still play an important role in this optimization, a great deal has changed over the past several years. SEO as an industry is surprisingly mercurial and fast-paced, owing to Google’s regular algorithm updates.
Even so, especially given the nature of 2020 thus far, mastery of SEO is imperative if you’re to succeed in the digital arena. If you don’t increase your brand’s visibility — if you don’t do everything you can to drive traffic to your website — you’re missing out on a ton of potential sales. And particularly if you’re a small business, those might not be sales you can afford to lose.
A flexible, workable SEO strategy requires more than slapdash content and keywords, however, and there’s much more to it than ranking and traffic.
At any given moment, millions of people are searching for what they need online. Sometimes it’s information, sometimes it’s guidance, sometimes they’re looking to make a purchase — either way, these are specific, targeted queries. And with the advent of voice search and mobile functionality, these searches are increasingly conversational in nature.
Where Does the Audience Fit in an SEO Strategy?
Your audience is at the core of everything. Familiarize yourself with their behaviors, habits, wants, and needs. Study your competition, and stay abreast of emerging trends, both within your own industry and within the SEO field.
As for how you can get to know your intended audience, there are a few questions you can ask yourself.
- What content do they want or need? While both IT administrators and general hobbyists might be interested in tech articles, they likely have a different level of knowledge and require a different approach.
- What search engine are they likeliest to use? Google may be the reigning titan of search, but there are other search engines out there.
- Who is my audience? Demographic information such as region, income level, gender, etc.
- What does my audience value, what do they enjoy, and what are they interested in? You’ll want to align your brand with these interests, if possible.
- How does my audience use social media? Look carefully at what kind of language your audience uses, ideally by studying the Facebook communities of your competitors.
- What does my storefront tell me? Some demographic details may be collected at the point of purchase, and you can use these (with consent) to inform your marketing decisions.
- What search terms do they typically use to find my website? Use Google AdWords. This can provide you with a general starting point for your content, though you’ll want to branch out and brainstorm further.
How Do SEO and Content Slot Together?
Armed with a better understanding of your target audience and with your keyword research in hand, it’s time to start writing. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about what you’d want to see on your website if you were them, and how you’d want it structured and phrased.
And remember that high-quality content is everything. Write what you know, and focus on your passions. Assuming you’ve done your research and applied it properly, you’ll do just fine.