SEO has long been a staple of successful digital marketing, but getting found online and resonating with a targeted audience is becoming increasingly competitive. Effectively optimizing your site for search engines requires a deeper understanding, requiring you to uncover consumer pain points, preferences, and buying behavior to drive more leads and conversions.  

Let’s explore how audience research in SEO supercharges your marketing strategy for a more authentic connection to your ideal customers.

The Benefits of Using Audience Research in Your SEO Strategy

Instead of building content and SEO strategies around SERP opportunities and search volume, audience research allows you to hone in on why customers are buying and their hesitations about a product or service. The goal is to build your website to connect with your audience and provide value, not just to accommodate Google’s ever-changing algorithm.

The good news is Google actually wants you to take an audience-focused approach, especially after their EEAT update, or “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.” The update helped prioritize sites that are truly helpful and demonstrate value. Even if there isn’t any search volume around specific topics or keywords, valuable content that follows EEAT principles can still give your rankings a boost. 

In a modern world where high-quality information is a commodity, tailoring your site and taking an authentic approach to your content marketing is critical. Research shows that 88% of consumers say authenticity is an important factor supporting and buying from a brand. 

Applied Audience Research for SEO Strategies 

Audience research in SEO must also account for several factors to improve your ranking while simultaneously building a connection with customers.

Audience Research for Market Identification

The importance of audience research is unparalleled and could lead to new market segments and niches you never considered before. While working with one of our clients for new paid media campaigns, we discovered that bath renovations were also being done in condos, and not just single-family homes. The client didn’t know this was a popular market and had overlooked creating content for this segment. This whole exercise opened up opportunities for a new customer base and revenue stream. 

With audience research in hand, we could now direct relevant keywords to attract their untapped condo audience segment. Just like with any other audience research, it’s essential to explore the customer journey in every niche you uncover to guide them through their own obstacles and hangups to conversion.

Market identification involves identifying new and underserved markets for a particular product or service. Here are simplified steps to follow to perform market identification:

  • Define the product or service: Clearly define the product or service to help narrow down your search for potential markets.
  • Conduct market research: Conduct research to gain a deeper understanding of the market and potential customers you’ll serve through surveys, focus groups, industry reports, and competitor analysis.
  • Analyze the data: Analyze the data you collect to identify potential market opportunities, including trends or patterns that suggest new or underserved markets.
  • Create customer personas: Create fictional representations of your ideal customers based on your research to help better understand their needs, preferences, and behavior.
  • Identify market opportunities: Use the customer persona and your available data to identify new markets or gaps that your product or service could fill.
  • Develop content and marketing strategies: Develop content and marketing strategies tailored to your new markets, such as creating targeted content or campaigns. 
  • Measure results: Measure the results of your new marketing efforts to determine their effectiveness across engagement, conversions, or preferred KPIs.

Audience Research for Topic Selection

Any audience research in SEO should help shape your understanding of what consumers want from your products and services, giving you insights on how to set topics and shape your content accordingly. It’s also essential to consider the search intent to provide people with highly targeted information and with as few stumbling blocks and clicks as possible. 

SEO tools such as SEMRush help you understand an audience’s search intent with reports and read-outs that provide deeper insights. When applied to your content, you end up with more accurate and targeted information your audience is looking for. 

Audience Research for Keyword Research

When you research your target audience, you uncover keywords and phrases that people use when searching for information related to a business. By analyzing these keywords and phrases, companies can better understand the intent behind the search query, create content that meets the user’s needs, and engage them when they land on your site. The combination of search intent and highly relevant keywords helps enhance the value of your content and how easy it is to find your business online.

Audience research also taps into segments, niches, or concerns about an SEO target audience that you may not have known about before, providing an opportunity to take your keyword research and content in new directions. The process helps generate ideas for new content, but even if it doesn’t have high search value, you could still see your rankings improve by providing highly useful information for your audience. 

Audience Research for Messaging

Audience research is a powerful tool for identifying compelling messaging opportunities that resonate with your target audience. Turning to surveys and focus groups, social media conversations, and customer interviews help piece together patterns and trends from your audience. If they all express similar pain points, frustrations, or insights, the content will likely prove valuable to your SEO target audience. Similar to the process involved in market identification, developing buyer personals 

can also help put all of your data together in a potentially real-world example.

As you craft your messaging, make sure to include language and tone that was represented during your audience research to address any paint points and highlight the product’s or service’s benefits. You should continue to refine your content through A/B tests or focus groups to see which messages resonate the most with the audience. 

Our audience research helped uncover new opportunities to reshape a client’s content. We discovered that people with only one or two bathrooms were delaying getting their bath re-done for fear of it taking forever and losing access to their lone bathroom or shower. Not wanting to shower at the gym, they pushed off renovations until they discovered that our client does bath renovations in less than one day, eliminating one of their most pressing worries.  

Audience research for a mattress client also provided new insights. It uncovered couples with different sleep styles and concerns had significant hesitations in making a purchase. After auditing the site, we realized there was little content on this topic, signaling to build more copy around the concern. By focusing on highly relevant messaging and creating a content marketing strategy around it, we help push people down the conversion funnel while showing how we eliminate one of their main concerns. 

Audience Research for UX 

Audience research affects the messaging on your site, how you organize your navigation and layout, and what information you present. Even the timing of when your audience sees your content can significantly impact the user experience on a website. If you’re not a UX professional, you can still use audience research to apply principles to your SEO choices. By creating a user-friendly website that provides value, businesses improve the user experience, leading to increased engagement, rankings, and conversions.

Upper Funnel

Knowing what catches people’s attention and draws them in helps you update your messaging and entry points for better alignment with what resonates to your audience. Similar to editorial SEO, you can now anticipate everyday questions and hesitations to build pathways and flows that immediately address those concerns and strengthen the audience connection.

Middle Funnel

An intimate understanding of people’s pain points and questions helps navigate them through your website more efficiently. As you create content, make sure the most critical information they need is readily available while reassuring them that you have the solution. 

Lower Funnel 

Knowing why people did or didn’t buy your product or service can help you update your messaging to increase conversions. It’s also an opportunity to craft content around their hesitations, helping guide people through the conversion process while resolving any obstacles to inform their decision. 

How to Research Your Target Audience

Some of the most effective audience research methods include conducting surveys and focus groups, analyzing website analytics, social media listening, and using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. Businesses can also use tools like Google Trends to identify trending topics and queries related to their industry. Customer interviews help uncover the story and journey, which is helpful but involves more work. 

The type of research method you choose also depends on the kind of content you’re writing. For example, customer reviews are valuable when it comes to conversion-orientated copy. Those reviews help you quickly identify what prompted someone to convert or why they left your site without buying. It also enables you to determine what caught people’s attention in the first place to weave that awareness into your own content. 

The potential to increase conversions and offer value to new audiences through research is vast. When working with a client that performs one-day bath renovations, our audience research revealed that many people were buying bath renovations for their aging-in-place parents and were thankful for the straightforward process. Our data signaled a need for more content about aging-in-place or future-proofing bath products, while directing that content towards those who used the product and those who helped their parents find them.

Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Audience Research

SEO target audience research may feel challenging if you’ve never done it before, there are some things you need to keep in mind to get the best marketing insights and accurate data out of the exercise. 

  • Don’t assume you are your audience – You have a lot of background on the topic and know the ins and outs of a company, but it’s important to remember that some people are coming into the subject without any knowledge and have different needs and preferences.
  • Consider the entire journey – Evaluate what people saw before the page they landed on, after, and their emotional state after consuming your content to create the best possible experience for site visitors. 
  • Don’t forget about your competitors – If you don’t have many reviews, see if your competitors do. Knowing why people converted or didn’t for your competitor can help give you insights into your audience’s concerns. 
  • Stay as current and recent as possible – A lot has changed in the past few years, and consumer and business behaviors should be accurate for them to be helpful.
  • Avoid using biased or leading questions – It’s easy to accidentally skew the results of a survey or focus group when your questions aren’t balanced and impartial for your intended audience.

Need Audience-Driven SEO?

Authentic marketing and SEO is the heart of connecting with your target audience while increasing your conversions and rankings in Google. Silverback offers audience research, SEO, and digital creative marketing services led by a team of experts in analytics, paid media, design, and audience research to deliver, execute and measure the performance of strategic creative campaigns. Learn more about our best practices and strategies with The Marketing Leader’s Guide to SEO

Annie Madden

Annie Madden is an SEO content strategist with experience in helping brands thread the needle between SEO best practice, business goals, the changing landscape, and audience needs.

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