Going Beyond Just Keyword Research – Truly Understand Your Audience

On Friday 15th September, I went down to Brighton SEO with the Innovation Visual team. I spent the day listening to experts talk about various subjects from paid search to business strategy, and of course SEO. I came back full of ideas and marketing inspiration. One session that I found really interesting was about advanced keyword research. Stacey MacNaught from Tecmark and Sophie Coley from Propellernet gave fantastic, actionable tips to go further with keyword research and how to better understand your audience, with the end goal being to help marketers be better at their job.

Keyword research helps marketers understand how people are looking for a product or service and is the basis of all work around SEO and PPC. However, the process has changed dramatically in the past few years because people have changed the way they search on the internet. Voice search is now pushing people to interact in a more natural way with machines by asking them direct questions. Google or Bing are no longer the only search engines as 55% of all US product searches start on Amazon.

People are turning to search engines for all types of answers, from shopping to very personal questions. With the appropriate tools, marketers can capture this information and use it to know their audience better. The end goal is not to stalk them online but to use this information to serve them better and give them an outstanding experience. Here’s how!

Understand who your audience are

 Knowing your audience, knowing your keywords
Knowing your audience, knowing your keywords

Everything that you do as a marketer is for your customers, whether you want to acquire new ones or nurture your existing base. If you want to do it right, you need to know who you’re talking to. Now if you think that your audience is everyone, give yourself a slap in the face and stop right now. No business has ever catered for everyone on the planet, EVER! Go think about your audience and come back to this article once you’ve realised what you’ve done.

Discover what people search around your product/service

AnswerThePublic  is a free tool that allows you to visualise content suggestions around a subject. It provides three types of results: questions, prepositions, and comparisons around the subject you feed it. Use the preposition wheel to find out what people are searching for around your product or service and see if you can serve them well. Sophie used the example of ‘breakfast ideas’ with the preposition ‘for’ (i.e. breakfast ideas for vegans, for camping). Depending on your business and your audience, you might be able to cater for these subjects not only by writing content around it, but maybe even by improving your product or service itself. Don’t keep this information to yourself, but share it across the business.

Which niche groups could identify to your brand

Most people like to belong to a group. They’ll call themselves hipsters, bookworms, skiers… Try to find which of these groups could identify to your brand. Then, use these labels in your research to find opportunities to understand your audience and what they’re looking for. On AnswerThePublic, Sophie looked at the preposition wheel for ‘skiers are…’ and discovered a huge fight between skiers and snowboarders. The same thing happened when she repeated the experience with ‘snowboarders’. This was used to create content around the division between the two groups and helped these individuals identify with the content on a more personal level.

Understand what your audience wants

Mariah Carey Knows what she wants
Mariah Carey knows what she wants

Now that you know who your business is serving, you need to understand what it is exactly what they want. Don’t start with an exposé of what your business has to offer, but rather why are people coming to you in the first place?

Understand what triggers people to search for your product/service

Most searches on the internet start with a problem. I don’t know the meaning of a word, I need flowers for Mother’s Day, I have a wine stain on my carpet and many others. These problems turn into questions. As the person learns more about their problem, their questions will get more specific until they’ve solved their problem. This is called the buyer’s journey and is divided into three steps according to the Inbound methodology:

  • Awareness: I have a problem
  • Consideration: I’m looking for the options to solve my problem
  • Decision: I’m choosing a solution to solve my problem

You need to identify what triggers your audience to search for your product or service in order to better serve them along their journey. The best way to do this is to survey your existing customers, potential customers, and sales/customer service teams. Keep the questions short and sweet, incentivise to get enough participants, and then turn the answers into keywords. Remember these users will be at the start of the process so they won’t be buying straight away. Once they’ve hit your website, make sure you capture them with remarketing lists to accompany them in the process without stalking them!

Tools:

Survey

Keyword Research

How people talk about good products/services

Once they’ve done their research, your audience will start shopping and comparing before making a decision. Audit the keywords that are already driving traffic to your website to discover how people are finding you and use tools to discover more related keywords. If you sell products, check the questions on Amazon product pages to find out what most people want from your product and what is important for them. If you sell a service, have a look at 5-star reviews for the market leader and identify common positive adjectives to understand what makes your customers happy. Use these adjectives in your ads for paid search and in your metadata for organic to see if it improves your click-through rate. You can also feedback this information to your product/service development team to help them adjust your offering to what your customers want.

Tools:

Audit:

Keyword Research:

 Understand your competitors

Watching your Competitors
Watch your competitors closely

You’re probably not on your own in the market and you’ll be competing against other companies doing something similar to you and trying to capture the same audience. Understanding your competitors, and especially what they do better than you, is essential to improve and tell your audience why they should do business with you instead of someone else.

Benchmark how people talk about your brand vs. competitors

You want to know how people talk about you, but also how they talk about your competitors. Using AnswerThePublic’s question wheel, enter your brand to see how people are searching for it. This will help you identify problems to solve or successes to shout about. Repeat the process for your competitor’s brand or more generic terms and compare the results. Are they doing something that you are not? You can also use the comparison wheel to see how people are comparing your brand to another or to more generic terms.

Find out how to influence the discussion

Your audience cheering for great content – via GIPHY

You’re not done yet! How do you get your hardly acquired customers to shout about your brand? How do you find these amplifiers and get them to be part of your sales team? They’re a very important bunch because they will do the marketing for you, for free, and will usually be more effective as they inspire trust. You’re more likely to listen to your friend or someone that you see as a knowledgeable person, rather than a company you’ve barely heard of trying to sell you their own stuff.

Write content that will drive inspiration

Most bloggers, journalists, and writers use reliable sources to write about a subject. They’ll do some research to find interesting facts or statistics around it because they have more impact than a long explanation. Don’t let another website take the credit and start writing content about your industry using keywords around statistics and facts. You can use the same keyword tools mentioned earlier to get ideas. You’re the expert in your industry so don’t be afraid to share your knowledge. You might have run a survey or discovered trends around your business. Write about it!

Find influencers in your industry

The clue is in the name. Whether it’s someone famous or regarded as a reference in a certain domain, they usually have a huge reach on people who listen to them and follow their advice or copy what they do. Use AnswerThePublic’s ‘like’ branch in the comparison wheel to find your product or service influencers. Sophie typed in ‘coats’ and found out that people were looking for coats like Sherlock, Kate Middleton or Kim Kardashian. Once you’ve identified your influencers, reach out to them or, if it’s not possible, try to use it for content ideas. Don’t forget to share the information with the business, another department might be able to use it to improve the customer’s experience.

Sounds too complicated? Talk to us!

I hope this article gave you lots of ideas on how to improve your business and interaction with your audience. If you’d like to put them in place but need some help to action it, please do contact us and we’ll be delighted to help!

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