Is there a need to know about User Personas?
I remember those days when SEO only meant impressing a few crawlers and getting ranked on the first page of Google, even if that meant creating countless pages of senseless and rubbish content.
Times have thankfully changed.
SEO is now more about making the user happy. Now, if you make your users happy by giving them something of value through your site, the search engine crawler is likely to be impressed as well.
So, in today’s world, when we talk about user-focused SEO all the time, in what ways can user personas help our SEO performance? What role do user personas play in our SEO strategies?
Let’s start with a brief introduction of user personas.
What are User Personas?
User personas are fictional characters that represent the different user types of a product, service or website. They are basically user profiles of our ideal customer based on market research and customer data. In essence, it’s a sketch of the persons we are trying to target.
For example, the following could be a few user personas of a web development company:
- Travis Traditionalist represents people between 40 and 60 who have a very old and basic business website that they want to change and improve.
- Ivan Ignorant represents people who want to grow their business but don’t realize how an online presence can help them.
- Steven Startup represents people who want to start their own business and actively looking for a website development service.
The above is only a rough sketch of user personas. User persona profiles are actually crafted with much more detail, taking into account different factors such as demographics, needs and interests, social dynamics and even their psychology.
Before I tell you how user personas can help improve your SEO performance, let me first give you a brief idea on how to create them.
How To Create User Personas?
If you have never created user personas for your company before, it’s a good idea to start now. Here is how you can get started.
First, you need data. You could start by looking at existing customer data. If you want, you can run surveys on your site or have interviews with a group of your customers to gather data. Here are some resources that can help you gather data and do your research:
- Social media sites
- Email lists
- Data of existing customers
- Customer reviews and feedback
- Analytic tools
Core Areas to consider while Developing User Personas:
Using the above resources, you should start your research in the following core areas when developing user personas for SEO.
- Demographics – find out who your users are: their age, location, gender, education, and job title.
- Social dynamics – you need information about your users’ peers and the people they frequently interact with, brands they are influenced by, groups/organizations they are part of, the types of media they prefer, and their hobbies. Social media sites, surveys, and interviews could give you all this information.
- Environment – find out where and when do they visit your website and what device are they using. Analytic tools like Google Analytics can help you with this research.
- Psychology – Find out what and how your users think and perceive things. This is best done through brainstorming and team discussions. Your sales team can particularly help you in this regard. Customer feedback and customer reviews can also give you valuable insights into customer psychology.
Based on all this research, you should start creating user personas. 2-4 profiles are generally good enough.
So now, when you have created your user personas, what next?
How does this all relate to SEO? What do user personas have to do with link building, content marketing, and keyword targeting?
Just hang on and I’ll explain how exactly user personas can help with today’s user-focused SEO strategies.
Let’s get into SEO:
User personas can be applied to the following areas of SEO:
- Keyword Research
- Content Strategy
- Link Building
- Guest Posting
Let’s discuss each of them in more detail.
Keyword research is unarguably one of the most important and indispensable aspects of search engine marketing. It’s actually the first thing that needs to be done in SEO.
Well, it’s because, in search engines, everything begins after the words have been typed into the search box. Without those magic words, the search engine is just an empty page.
The success of our search engine marketing efforts actually depends on our keyword research. Good keyword research means we get ranked for keywords that are being searched for by our users and which ultimately lead to a high conversion rate. A lot of factors need to be considered when doing our keyword research including search volume, competitiveness, and SERP analysis.
Coming up with good keywords to target for SEO is a whole big process. However, it all begins with brainstorming where you sit down and think of what your users might search for in search engines. This is where user personas can help.
What is Brainstorming in Keyword Research and The Role of User Personas?
Brainstorming is the earliest stage in keyword research where you come up with broad ideas of what your users might search for in search engines. The brainstorming process yields seed terms that can be entered into keyword research tools to generate further ideas and analyze the keywords according to various factors.
User personas play a very important role in this crucial stage of keyword research. When brainstorming keywords, keep your user persona profiles in mind and think of what a user persona might search for in search engines.
For example, in the case of the web development company and its user personas described above, think of what Travis Traditionalist might search for on the internet and what keywords Ivan Ignorant might be typing out in the search box of Google.
After brainstorming, when you are finally done with research and further analysis of the keywords, and you finalize and shortlist the list of keywords you want to target, it’s time to take a look at user personas again. You should make sure the final list of keywords match your personas’ profiles and are in line with what you originally came up in the brainstorming process.
Once you are done with keyword research, it’s time to build content around those keywords.
In the past, content strategies revolved around only one thing: keywords. You had to write content using a particular keyword x number of times. As long as you were using the keyword in the content, what you were writing didn’t really matter. For SEO professionals, search engine crawlers mattered more than the end users. The result was often low quality, worthless content that provided no value to users.
Times have changed. Even SEO professionals now understand that it’s the end user that matters more than search engine crawlers. The result is a user-focused content strategy. Now we write content that we think is going to be of value to the end user. That’s where our user personas come into play.
Keep User Persona in mind while Crafting Content:
When writing content, think of what our user persona might like to read about. For example, think about Travis Traditionalist. What would be his pain points? Writing about his pain points and offering solutions in your content can help engage Travis Traditionalist and ultimately make him convert. If you are targeting a keyword that you think Travis Traditionalist is likely to search for, the content on that page should also align with that user persona. Make sure the content you write answers the query of Travis Traditionalist.
When building content, you should also make sure you speak the language of your user personas.
No, it’s not about English or French or German. Rather it’s about the words you choose to communicate with your user persona.
For example, if it’s a page targeted towards Ivan Ignorant, you are going to choose much simpler words and you are going to use a different style when talking to them as compared to a page that targets Steven Start Up. Ivan Ignorant doesn’t even understand how a website can help their business so if you use technical terms like UX design, UI design, SEO and SERP analysis, they are probably going to get more confused.
While a lot has changed in SEO over the past few years, the number of inbound links still matter a lot. Search engines use this number to give weight and authority to a site. That’s the reason link building is central to your SEO strategy.
How you acquire those links, however, has drastically changed no doubt.
For example, the ‘natural’ links generated when your users share your content within their social circle matter more than the ones you pay for. Hence, creating shareable content is always an important aspect of link building strategy.
Now, before you create content in the hopes of getting it shared, think about the social dynamics of your user persona.
Which social media sites do your users use the most?
For example, Steven Startup might use LinkedIn and Twitter while Ivan Ignorant might be using Facebook and Instagram the most.
Keeping these in mind, think about the type of content that is often shared on these social media sites.
For examples, articles are more likely to be shared on LinkedIn and Twitter while images and videos are more popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Moreover, when creating content, ask yourself the question: Would Travis Traditionalist like to share it? Would he be interested in it?
Guest posting has always been a popular link building technique. User personas can be used when coming up with guest post ideas and pitching guest post titles to webmasters.
When outreaching bloggers for guest posting, think about the kind of sites your users might be interested in.
For example, Steven Startup might be interested in blogs related to websites and SEO. So, the sites where you guest post should be the ones that your user persona is more likely to use.
Then again, user personas need to be considered when pitching guest post topics and titles to webmasters.
For example, Steven Startup might be interested in WordPress Tips, Best Hosting Services To Buy, Best WordPress Themes, and Easy SEO Techniques.
And so, when pitching guest post topics to webmasters, keep your user persona in mind and craft titles and topics that your user persona would like to read about and ultimately share.
So, Let’s Get Personified
I hope this gives you an idea of how user personas play a role in your SEO strategies.
Today, Search Engine Marketing is all about the user. We don’t just want our website to rank on the first page of search engines, but what we actually want is our users to convert into customers. That is why keeping the user in mind in our search engine marketing activities will make the most difference.
Note: This is a guest post by Faiza Farooqi. If you an excellent article to contribute, then check our guest blogging guidelines.
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