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How to Research Your Target Audience to Build an SEO Content Strategy for Your Small Business

Finding your target audience

As an early-stage startup or small business, it’s essential to identify and engage your target audience in order to make the most of your marketing efforts. By having a clear image of who your ideal audience is, you can create highly targeted campaigns that will engage the people (customers) you are trying to reach.

Additionally, finding your target audience allows you to create a unified brand identity that will attract potential customers and retain existing ones. Moreover, knowing your target audience allows you to measure your marketing efforts more effectively. You can track the success of your campaigns and see which channels are working best for you. Sounds like a lot of market intelligence, right?

Furthermore, you can allocate your budget and resources more efficiently by focusing on the channels that yield the best results. This will help you reach more potential customers and maximize your SEO ROI. Tailor your content to them, creating content that is relevant to them and the problems they are trying to solve.

This will make them more likely to engage with your content, and, invariably, your business.

You can also use this insight to create personalized messages in emails, landing page copy, and blog content that will increase the likelihood of conversion. 

Sounds pretty cool, right? Ready to get started? I know I am! Let’s go!

What is a Target Audience?

We should start with the answer to this question because it’s critical foundational knowledge before we begin. And it’s also not necessarily obvious.

Identifying your target audience is critical to selling your business.

Your target audience are the people you most want to attract to your website. That’s it. That’s the only thing you care about when executing an SEO strategy. How do I get more people to my website who care about what I do and how I can help them.

These are the potential customers that are most likely to do something meaningful for your business…whether that’s joining your email list, scheduling a demo, or making an e-commerce purchase.

When it comes to SEO, you’ll want to target potential customers that are using search engines to find solutions that your business provides. The better you understand your customer through industry analysis, blog research, competitor analysis, etc, the more easily your content will resonate.

The more specific you get about what sort of person you want to visit your site, the more you can narrow the focus of your SEO content strategy to build engagement with this audience and attract potential leads.

The most common characteristics to consider for your target audience are:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Purchasing power
  • Consumption habits
  • Social class
  • Highest level of education

Why do you need to define your target audience

In the simplest terms, if you attract people that are most interested in what you do, they will convert into sales at higher rates.

Source: Hubspot

More deliberately, defining your target audience allows you to be as accurate as possible with your strategy, making your SEO performance more successful in the long run. The more effective you are at consumer targeting for your target audience, the more accurately you can:

  • Identify hyper-relevant search terms during keyword research and optimize your site accordingly
  • Generate content that’s highly specialized to attract them
  • Drive high-quality traffic to your site
  • Convert more of your organic traffic into leads or sales

Without further ado, let me take you through how to do customer research to find target audience intel for your small business and share our tried and tested tips for improving your outcomes with targeted marketing.

Understand your current customer 

Some of the best intel you can get comes from analyzing the people who’ve already decided to convert, aka your current customers. You’re looking for more people like them, so they should be your first point of reference.

Evaluate the data within your CRM to find information on their demographic, customer journey, purchases, and preferences to figure out who is your highest converting customer. This will help determine what type of person you should be targeting.

You can also find such valuable information on Google Analytics. Take a look at the ‘Audience’ tab to find their demographic, interests, geographical data, and more. You might find that the audience your site is most popular with is not what you expected, and you can adapt your strategy to match the insights you gain.

To reach this report in your Google Analytics, navigate to Audience –> Demographics –> Overview

Google Analytics overview of Sage SEO’s website traffic demographics from Dec-Jan 2023.

You could also target competitors that make similar products as you using competitor analysis tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs.

Get to know them really well

Now that you have a rough idea of who they are, you want to get to know them as well as possible. Most importantly, you want to solve customer pain points around your topics, so you can swoop in and offer to solve them. 

How do you identify customer pain points?

Your first attempt at understanding customer pain points should be a deep dive into the inner workings of their minds via internet forums and places where your target customers tend to congregate. One of the main advantages of technology is free and instant access to peoples’ thoughts and opinions far and wide.

Online forums like Reddit can be gold mines in terms of understanding your target customer’s opinions and emotions. Search for questions around your key topics, and you’ll likely find tens if not hundreds of answers relating to your industry, and maybe even your product, specifically.

Don’t just take note of what they’re saying, but of how they’re saying it, too. The way they speak and express themselves is a good springboard for establishing what tone of voice to use in order to be relatable and accessible to your target audience.

Next, try reaching out to your customers directly – there’s no better avenue for identifying customer pain points straight from the horse’s mouth. You can do this by sending out an email to your newsletter subscribers with a link to a survey that reveal customer pain points or, even better, requesting a short phone conversation with them. A 20 to 30-minute conversation will allow you to gather rich information and paint a realistic picture of what your customers are like and what really makes them tick.

With your intel from online forums and your interviews, you can make a list of customer pain points from which to brainstorm potential SEO content ideas.

Analyze Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

When it comes to defining your target audience, analyzing SERPs is a crucial step. Simply taking time to run searches around your most lucrative keywords is worth every minute. It might sound simple, but spending time analyzing the SERPs for related terms will help you see what’s performing best with your target audience and for your target search terms.

What are the common themes throughout the main results? What tone of voice are these pieces of content using? What type of articles are ranking in positions 1-5?  Your answers will help you determine who your target audience should be and the type of content to write. Is the content generally informational or transactional?

This will helps you identify their search intent – in other words, what action someone is trying to take when they search that term. You need to match your content to the searcher’s intent.

Utilize social insights

Your following on social media is a great snapshot of the people who are interested in your products or services and want to keep up to date with your latest updates.

Take a plunge into the insights of your Facebook and Instagram pages to learn more about the audience you already have. Here, you can gather data to supplement what you’ll collect from your CRM and Google Analytics to create a better understanding of all the people who are interested in your content. Bear in mind that your social following doesn’t necessarily translate to conversion, but it’s a good indicator of who’s interested in what you’re sharing. If that doesn’t match the demographic of who actually converts to sales, that’s also valuable information as to how you can switch up your strategy.

Know your competitors well

Perhaps surprisingly, SEO strategy is one arena where the age-old cliché “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” applies quite well. A deep knowledge of the competitive landscape will be instrumental in propelling yourself to the top, especially if your business lies in a particularly competitive market.

By evaluating what’s working well for your competitors, you can figure out what’s most compelling to your target audience. Ask yourself the same questions as you would when looking over the SERPs – pay attention to how they speak to the reader, how long their content pieces are and how they create a connection between the target keyword and the page that’s working.

Final Thoughts

The most important metric of your SEO strategy’s success is how well it’s performing with the right people. Defining who they are – the ones who are ready to take the plunge and convert to loyal customers – and tailoring your strategy to their tastes is vital to acquiring high-quality traffic that boosts your bottom line in the long run. 

And don’t worry, finding your target audience is very doable! By analyzing your current customers and evaluating data from your CRM, you can get a better understanding of their demographics, purchase habits, and preferences. From there, you can create a strategy that targets the right people and drives more conversions. 

By following the simple steps we’ve outlined, you’ll be well on your way to harnessing the power of SEO to take your business to the next level. Plus, with the help of affordable search engine optimization services like Sage SEO, the cost of SEO for small businesses is no longer a worry.

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I try to publish 2-3 articles a week on content topics like this one. My focus is on helping small businesses and startups achieve front page search rankings, no matter the size of your business or your online presence.

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