Oct 30, 2013

SEO Personas – Who Are You Targeting?

SEO Personas - Who Are You Targeting?

I wrote a blog post recently about why I think it’s not the end of the world that Google is getting rid of keyword data. As professional SEO’s freak out around me, knowing this day was coming for years {literally} I’ve long believed that SEO was never really only about keywords. At its heart, SEO is about connecting people to content, ideas or products. We optimize on search engines to do that.  While some keywords obviously preform better, companies that focus on keywords tend to get slammed with algorithm updates and inauthentic blog posts. They obtain links based on anchor text and climb up the Google rankings. The problem is that all this time spent on SEO doesn’t change the fact that their website isn’t designed very well, their descriptions on products are poorly written and no one reads their blog posts. But people are visiting and a few are buying so all is right with the world….or is it? 

Many optimizers have long focused on story telling and content marketing (even before it was called that). I recently read an article on Search Engine Watch about searcher personas. If you are not familiar with what a persona is, and many in the search industry are not, a persona is a “fictional character created to represent the specific user type within a targeted demographic.” Many marketers at different agencies create very specific personas. They give them names; they describe their habits, all in an attempt to understand the customer/buyer/reader. If you can empathize with them, you’ll be more likely to connect with them directly and speak to THEM, not to the masses. 

So let’s bring this into reality. I love this concept because for years I’ve been doing this on my personal blogs. I’ve been writing to Sarah. She’s a married mom that was born in 1978. She has two children 6 and 8, her husband works hard but they don’t seem to ever have enough money to live comfortably. While they don’t live paycheck to paycheck, they live on a budget. They go to church, they live in the suburbs, and they even go to Texas Roadhouse on Friday nights as a family. She clips coupons because she loves a sale. She loves to be responsible, she loves to be able to make her dollar stretch and she loves to be able to give her family healthy food even when they are on a budget. I write to Sarah. If you haven’t guessed my personal blog is about couponing.  Understanding WHO I’m writing to helps me write to the target audience more affectively. It’s important to get the right kind of visitor to your site.  

WeUseCoupons’s meta description focuses on community, because Sarah loves Facebook. We mention a few of our features because I know Sarah values her time:

WeUseCoupons is a Coupon Forum, Coupon Database & Coupon Blog All-in-One! Our couponing community is one of the largest on the Internet & it's FREE!

I know to whom I’m writing: Sarah. I occasionally write to other personas, but Sarah is my focus. She is more likely to join my site and engage. When I write a blog post, she is whom I’m writing it to. Of course I’m being authentic, but if you know you’re audience, you know how to phrase a joke. When you’re in front of your mother you speak differently than if you’re with your friends or at your place of employment. Writing to a persona has helped enable me to create a large audience. Every person isn’t like Sarah, but many probably can relate to her. 

Most of all, Sarah is my friend. I care about my personas, because in the end they are real people reading my blog posts. They are real people buying my book. I care and that makes this brand of SEO different! Keywords are just words, but personas are people. Let’s face facts, keywords are on the decline, but relevant, targeted SEO is on the rise. Be relevant and know your audience.

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