Being a firm believer of Inbound Marketing, I find SEO as one of the most effective strategy to generate high quality, targeted traffic to get found through search engines. But whenever we talk about SEO, first thing which comes to our mind is Keyword. Why, because SEO has always been talked around Keywords. Exact search, phrase search, broad search, longtail keywords, on-siteSEO, meta descriptions, off-site SEO — whatever is the term, it is all around keywords. But this is not the case. After introducing Google Hummingbird and acquiring RankBrain, search engines like Google are more concerned to provide relevant and contextual search results to their visitors rather than keyword specific results.
So, how you can start writing content with keyword? Content, which is useful for your visitor and help you to drive targeted traffic without talking about keyword? First and foremost step before any traditional step related to SEO, you need to define who is your target audience. You will have to stop the urge of start working on any of SEO step like keyword research, competitor research, search trend, use of keyword planner to get ideas about keywords or anything similar. And define your target audience. A target in the form of a persona.
In online world, it is difficult to assume or predict who is typing your targeted keyword phrase and for what purpose. It is not necessary that a visitor using a that search phrase is your persona. (S)he might be a student who is doing research on specific topic and using the phrase or may be your competitor who is doing research to find right keyword to develop next piece of content.
Persona is key to get guaranteed rankings in search engine. Before starting any task related to SEO, you must ask questions related to your buyer persona. Having right persona for your SEO strategy will be helpful to build any effective online marketing campaign. But, for whatever reason, If you do not have enough time to do detailed research to build your persona, you can always start by picking up from an ideal customer from list of current customers.
Once you have picked up your ideal customer or persona, you need to find out what are their goals and challenges? You need to ask them:
- what keywords they put in search box to find companies
- how they find information related to your industry and
- what keywords they use for problems related to solutions your organization provides
Reverse mapping with customer need, goals or challenges will help you to prepare relevant and useful content for your buyer persona. This approach will surely help you to increase conversion ratio/goal to get better leads based as these are mapped with real human intent — not for specific keyword or robot. More time we spend to understand the persona, it would be better to integrate right set of keywords to improve search engine ranking positions.
Generally, businesses do not consider SEO as an authentic and high quality lead generation source. SEO is equally important to generate high quality leads as paid campaigns.
Other than buyer persona — another secret of persona is influencer persona. Influencers are not directly responsible for sales, but they are more like catalyst who are not buyers directly but amplify and help us to drive traffic through our buyer personas. Each industry has its own influencers persona and your buyer persona have their own influencers whom they follow. People like Rank Fishkin, Danny Sullivan, Neil Patel, Bruce Clay, Matt Cutts are few of the key influencers who play a critical role to educate, inform and create awareness about best practices in SEO industry. So, any quality content picked up and recommended by influencer persona can be a turning point to flood traffic to your website.
It is important for organizations to identify who are those influencers and how your solutions are helpful for people related to your industry.
And by the way, buyer persona and influencer persona are not the same but they are important to take into consideration while designing SEO strategy.
You should know which influencers & thought leaders your personas follow in your industry.
For ex., a tech gadget reviewer for a mobile phone company might not be your customer (buyer persona). But as a reviewer/influencer he is more important than your buyer persona to impact your traffic growth. Because if your product gets reviewed by an influencer like him and he writes a blog post where he talks positive how your product is better and why they should opt it than your competitor’s one — it can surely drive huge traffic to your website to get more exposure.
Defining buyer persona not only will give you ideas to create new content, it will help you to select the right social media platform as well to distribute and talk about your content. Knowing where your persona look for information, you can design & adapt your content according to those platforms.
For example, if your persona is more active on LinkedIn and keep themselves updated to know about industry trend, what kind of growth opportunities are there and how they can become better in their career — you can develop content specific to LinkedIn platform. If your persona is interested to read long form of content and looking more comprehensive piece of information, you can write a detailed blog post covering all aspect of a specific topic to help him. Similarly, if your persona is quite diverse and more active on Facebook, you can explain about your concepts, share your ideas to engage them then and there only.
So, investing time to define your persona — buyer persona as well as influencer persona — can surely help you to build valuable content. Persona based approach will guide you to identify relevant keywords related to his/her challenges or goals and develop content. Your content can help him to get connected deeply with your organization. It will keep them engaged and will turn into a repeat visitor. Now you know the secret — Start using buyer persona to prepare your next SEO strategy and be ready to handle high quality, high volume of traffic to your website.