Personas and Search Intent

Understanding your customer audience

Search Engine Optimisation is crucial for every marketer to make their website visible to the public, thereby optimising its effectiveness. In simple terms, SEO is the way people find you when they type certain keywords into a directory or search engine.

When optimising a website, it’s of utmost importance to create content that will appeal to, and answer the needs of all sections of your target audience. This means using keywords and phrases relevant to many aspects of your website and what it is offering. These days, however, keywords are not enough.

User Intent

The significance of SEO is often overlooked when creating a website but even more so, is one of its main mechanisms; ‘user intent’. Every search on Google is made with an intention to discover resources, information for research, product reviews, answers to questions, comparisons and much more. To immediately connect with the searcher, or user you’ll need to make sure that your content is created to meet their expectations.

More important than stuffing your content with keywords, you need to understand and measure user intent to identify your website and your brand as a dependable source of content, which in turn will bring more visitors to your site, and help increase conversions.

As with any strategy you wish to implement in business, it’s vital to do some research. You’ll need to test searches on Google to determine what keywords and phrases fit your user intent, and the types of words that are being used every day.

For example, ‘Canon zoom lenses under $200’ and ‘Canon camera reviews’ are popular searches. However, when you type in ‘Canon zoom lens reviews’, you’ll find a broad search covering a vast amount of information, with no specifics on what type of lens the user is searching for. The content will be much more generic, so when creating content, there is less need to use specific keywords.

However, when you type in ‘Canon lenses under $200’, the search engine will immediately recognise what the user intent is, and the results reflect this accordingly, so your content should be specifically designed to reflect Canon lenses that fit this price category.

Demographic is another important consideration when looking at user intent. For example, typing in ‘Removalists Sydney’ will give searchers a much broader and more generic search, requiring them to filter results and spend more time searching. Alternatively, when typing in ‘Removalists Sydney Northern Beaches’ the search engine recognises that the user’s intent is to source removalists in a specific area. Simply identifying your location establishes your demographic and can lead to many more users coming directly through your door.

Personas

Hand in hand with user intent, is the understanding of how understanding user ‘personas’ affects your SEO. A persona is the way you identify why users are searching for your products or services. As an example of how we might classify personas for a product based site, consider the following:

The ‘Do-it-yourself’ Persona: The understanding of this persona is that they may not be seeking a product or service necessarily, but how to do something themselves. This searcher looks primarily for information, guides, how-to videos, material sources and ways to carry out tasks (or make things) themselves. You content needs to satisfy this persona’s needs.

The ‘Need-to-Know-Everything’ Persona: This persona is usually very knowledgeable on the subject they are passionate about. They usually have a specific goal or intention and have done their research on what they intend to buy. When creating content for this persona, your information needs to be accurate, authoritative and to show that your product or service is going to meet their requirements.

The ‘I-need-it-Now’ Persona: This may be the easiest persona to satisfy. They will usually have one or two criteria in mind, but not the time to research the different types of products or services similar to yours. Usually a key specific for this type of user is instant despatch, or no-cost delivery, or the easiest, quickest and least expensive way to get what they want. Understanding this persona means structuring your website to cater for those needs.

Personas are usually fleshed out with socio-demographic details as well: what the expected education level of the user is, their income, their quality preferences, their technical literacy, etc.

This is not to say that you need to concentrate on only one of these personas when creating content for your website. It’s possible to create links and incorporate elements of each persona into your conten.

The difference between using only keywords as Search Engine Optimisation and employing the strategies of user intent and persona is vast. Keywords are necessary but it’s not enough to have them simply appear once or twice on your landing page. User-intent focussed content requires a little research and consideration – bit the resulting content created with this in mind will be better targeted and more effective.

Closed Loop Marketing
Craig Bailey

Craig is the Founder and Technical Director at XEN Systems. He’s been involved in IT, web development and digital marketing for more than 25 years.

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