Identifying and defining your target audience and their interests
This infographic is all about using the right language. Identifying and describing your target audience informs targeted keyword research, which in turn helps you define a winning content plan.
1. Identifying your audience
First, you need to know who is most likely to buy your stuff. In some ways it’s a simple task. If, for example, you sell shaving foam, you can bet your last quid your target will be men. Except, perhaps, for the occasional bearded lady from your local circus.
But it can get a lot more detailed and complicated. Not all men shave. A percentage of them will be all beardy, which means they’ll be less likely to fall into your target market. If your product is astronomically expensive and exclusive, deep in Beckham-budget territory, you can knock out ordinary chaps with everyday bank accounts. You get my drift.
2. Describing your audience
Some marketers like using a persona to help them visualise and formalise their target market. You might create just one or any number of personae, depending on how wide your product’s or service’s appeal. In my cartoon, the persona in question is a single petrol-head male who would love to meet someone special. He’s conscious of his physical appearance and is prepared to invest cash in smelling good enough to date.
3. Targeted keyword research
You could guess what kind of subjects your target audience is interested in. But using your persona as a guide helps you key into their needs, wants, preoccupations, ambitions and desires on a deeper and more emotional level.
Understanding the keywords used by your target audience is the basis of success in internet marketing.
Building lists of terms, collating them into themes and associating each with either a single web page, post or even a collection of pages helps you identify areas where more content is needed to support indexation for those terms. It can also identify gaps in your current key term coverage, AKA gap analysis, for which creating extra content would be a good move.
Once you’re ready to go, you use the terms you’ve identified appropriately in your content. As I write, unless any new Google algorithm updates change matters, this involves picking one or more primary, topic-defining key terms and using them:
- At the start of the page title
- In the top level <h1> heading
- At least once in the copy, ideally in the first paragraph
- In copy associated with any backlinks to the page
- As anchor text in on-site links to the page
- In your social media promotion
Focusing too hard on a limited number of generic keywords doesn’t do the trick any more, although it used to work beautifully. Google’s algorithms and quality evaluation processes are increasingly able to identify tactics used to promote rankings for specific, high-value search queries and if they’re detected, your rankings can be suppressed and they might even slap you with a penalty.
Instead of focusing on just a few keywords it makes sense to develop lists of thematically-related long-tail terms, adopting a content-centric approach designed to add value to your marketing. It means you naturally put your audience first, which is exactly what Google wants us to do. It’s also much more rewarding for your copywriter, or for you if you’ll be writing it. In short, an all-round marketing win-win.
Some tips for keyword targeting
- Target a maximum of two main keywords per page, post, article or whatever
- Images on the page should include key terms in their ALT text
- Ideally the primary keyword should appear in the page’s URL
- Onsite navigation links can use relevant keywords as anchor text
- Text content should contain keywords and synonyms without being stuffed to bursting point
- Content should be unique, relevant and recognised as valuable to customers and prospects
- Provided the primary keywords are used appropriately and the topic of the page is reinforced by the dominant page content, it’s enough for Google to associate the content with your topic-defining keywords. Result!
4. Get writing
Once you’ve pinned down a nice, big list of appropriate, targeted key terms you’re ready to start using them tactically to attract a properly-targeted audience. It’s up to you how often you create irresistible new content. But whatever your niche or sector, you may as well work on the assumption that competition is fierce: the more, and the more often, the merrier.
(cartoon by Kate)