A common search engine optimization (SEO) oversight is skipping the audience analysis.
After all, isn’t a competitor analysis sufficient in keyword discovery?
To answer this question, we will look at a story from a B2B services company.
During 2015 – 2016 they were making 2.3 million annually. In the years, to follow they lost nearly 30% of their overall income.
They brainstormed with team members to think about what changed internally. What were they doing in 2015 that they were not doing in 2018?
Across the board the answer was: content.
During the heyday years of 2015 – 2016 they were churning out tons of great content!
So, they began again, writing a ton of content.
Despite the team’s best efforts traffic continued to decrease. The new content failed to increase the quantity or quality of leads through the organic channel.
How do you right the ship and increase leads?
Go back to the building blocks of marketing and advertising:
- Knowing your audience.
- Knowing your competitors.
- Building a Brand Position .
The objective of any brand is to attain the No. 1 position in the mind of the consumer.
An audience analysis is necessary for proper search engine optimization because when you tell the consumer what they need to hear, from the sources they need to hear it, you become the authority.
How an Audience Analysis Builds Winning Content
By conducting an audience analysis and combining this with search data you will discover:
- Opportunities for growth.
- What differentiates your company.
- Where your ideal client seeks out information.
The most valuable piece of information you gain is knowing what questions a prospect is searching for organically.
During the B2B service company’s analysis we were able to identify 4 “pillar topics” that were true to their brand and targeted their ideal client.
These 4 pillar topics were tested with Ads in order to gather the current keyword volume and conversion rates.
Armed with real-time data, their marketing team now has a really good base to build from.
The content is strategic and intentional.
They know exactly what to do to increase sales.
Is a Competitor Analysis Sufficient?
Had this B2B services company only done a competitor analysis, they would have missed out on 3 of the 4 pillar topics.
And likely the 4th topic would have been ruled out or put off because of its seemingly low (historical) search volume.
None of their main competitors are targeting these terms!
At this point in the conversation they will control the narrative.
During the Google Ads test we saw site visitors engaging with the website more so than any other page. Even those who entered through the home page.
By relying solely on a competitor analysis you are banking on the hope:
- Competitor has conducted quality audience research.
- Their consumers interact with the web the same way your audience does.
- Search volume has not changed over the past year (historical data).
- Traffic from these search queries will turn into conversions.
Hope is not an SEO strategy!
Audience Research Process to Generate Leads Organically
Casting a broad net out in the direction everyone else is will naturally catch some fish.
But finding a hungry pond with the right hook?
That’s where the real money is.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Use a Survey Tool
- I love TypeForm for its modern templates and ease of use.
- SurveyMonkey is another well-loved option.
- You can also send a good ol’ fashioned email or integrate it into your next meeting.
2. Offer an Incentive for Current Clients
- Google Ads recently sent out a survey offering $75 for feedback.
3. Offer an Increased Incentive for Lost Prospects
- Good rule of thumb is to double whatever it is you are offering current clients.
- A “lost prospect” may even turn into a client.
4. Listen to Sales Calls
- Transcribe sales calls and you will see a pattern in recurring questions, objections and what was said by the salesperson prior to the “Yes.”
- If you don’t have sales calls, dig through whatever your point of contact is: emails, social media messages, form submissions, search box on website.
5. Review Your Best Contracts
- What time of year?
- What is the Job Title of the person who signed?
6. Reverse engineer Google Analytics + Search Console
- Find organic keywords that assisted in a conversion.
7. Review Google Ads Data
- Make a list of exact match keywords that resulted in a conversion.
8. Conduct a Competitor Analysis
- Use your SEO tool of choice to find what search terms your competitors are ranking for.
- High traffic keywords.
- Featured Snippet keywords.
- You may not use these keywords in your campaign but it will give you an idea as to the position or angle they are using.
9. Find Organic Click-Through Rates
- Moz Keyword Volume Explorer to discover organic click through rates.
- View Search Console for click-through-rates.
10. Test with Ads
- Collect accurate data on search volume for the keywords.
- Impressions are the first sign you are on the right track.
- Clicks are the sign that you have hit a pain point your target market has.
- Conversions are the money sign – you are attracting the right people with the right content.
11. Define Pillar Topics
- Analyze what you have learned up to this point to define pillar topics.
12. Analyze SERP per Location
- Take what you have learned to the search engines!
- Any featured snippets?
- Any People Also Ask questions?
- What answers are already provided?
- What answers are not provided?
- What are the related search terms?
- What are the Domain Authority and backlink profiles of the ranking pages?
The best thing about the SEO audience analysis process is you can know within one month if your marketing strategy will work rather than rolling out an entire campaign and waiting 12 months only to learn it did not increase sales.
An Audience Analysis Is Necessary to SEO!
A competitor analysis and historical keyword volume simply isn’t enough.
A basic keyword data dump provides a decent idea of what to write about in relation to what the general population is searching online.
There is a unique reason your customers chose you and not your competitor.
This means there are specific questions they’re asking that you can solve in a unique way.
- If you aren’t where your audience is searching – they won’t find you.
- If you aren’t using the language they use – they won’t hear you.
- And, if you aren’t solving their problem – they won’t choose you.
- 7 Methods to Research & Analyze Your Audience for SEO
- How to Analyze Audience Performance with Google Analytics
- How to Identify Your True Web Audience
Featured Image: Created by author, March 2020