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As business owners with websites, we want our website to rank on the first page of search engines. But are we also getting in front of the right target audience that we want to reach?

That is why we, as agency owners talk about user personas’ when we discuss website content and user experience with our clients.  When you work on your user persona, you are laying the groundwork for user intent and the appropriate keywords, long-tail keywords, and related keywords that would appeal to your target market.

Create Your User Persona

What is a user persona? User personas are fictional characters which are typically user-centered design process to represent the different user types of a website.  They can be useful in your online marketing campaigns, such as for your search engine optimization strategy. They can help you find the right keywords for your target audience; create the right content, and they can be a useful tool when identifying targets for building links.

What you are looking for when you create your user persona:

You want to have them pretty fleshed out so you can understand several things about each of your customers, including:

It is much better if you can segment your user personas based on your knowledge of your different types of customers you have. You should have at least 4 to 8 user personas. (small businesses or solopreneurs usually can identify four user personas)

Tools for creating User Personas:

Xtensio offers User Persona templates and examples that you can get started with for free. : https://xtensio.com/user-persona/

Hubspot has their own persona template: https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona.

Your user persona’s are not fake customers. They should be your actual customers. Your user persona’s pain points should influence your decisions more than anything else. What solutions are you providing to solve their paint points?

Now that you have your user persona’s fleshed out, it is time to do some keyword research. Before you begin, keep the user personas in front of you so that you are following their user intent in mind. Neil Patel defines user intent as “the goal as someone had in mind when typing in a query into Google…”

We now have user personas, and we have identified their pain points. We also have our solutions in place.

User Persona and their User Intent

Next is user intent. There are four pillars of user intent, and according to searchengineland, once you understand the user intent behind the keywords, your website will rank appropriately.

The Four Types of User Intent

  1. Informational: A person wants a question(s) answered /information on a specific topic
  2. Navigational: A person seeks a particular resource, page or location
  3. Commercial: A person knows what they want to buy and researches before making a purchase
  4. Transactional: A person who is looking to buy something

However, user intent differs from one person to another person, and for each scenario – keep in mind that not all inquiries have just one single user intent as it may change as they travel through their user journey. For example, someone may start off searching informational content, and end up converting to another type of user intent by the end of reading a blog post from a website, such as commercial or transactional.

Tailoring content for one of these types of user intent is vital to ensure your website is discovered by users and goes hand-in-hand with ranking on search engines too. If the content is good and answers the reader’s question, you are more likely to rank higher in the search results.

Perform Keyword Research

The first step is to think about topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You will want to come up with about 5 to 10 topic buckets you think that are important to your business and then you will use those topic buckets to help you to come up with keywords.

Coming Up with Topic Buckets

So, how do you come up with the topics? It could be topics that you regularly blog about. Or key issues that come up often during your conversations with your customers. Look at your user personas. Put yourself in the shoes of your user personas – what types of topics would your target audience search that you would want your business to get found for?

Here’s a couple of examples:

Let’s say you are a professional keynote speaker on change management.

Your general bucket topics might be: (The parentheses next to each topic below are the monthly search volume.) This shows how important these topics are to your audience and how many subtopics you might be able to create content to be successful with that keyword.

Let’s say you are a bed and breakfast that caters to newlyweds, located by the oceanside of the USA.

Once you have your “general topic buckets,” now you need to develop those topic buckets with keywords.  So if we took a stab at the topic bucket of the change management for the professional keynote speaker, you could try to brainstorm some keyword phrases that you think people might type in these related topics such as:

The idea on this step isn’t to come up with your final list of keyword phrases, but you just dump as many as you can think of that your potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. You can narrow the list down later in the process so that it doesn’t become too unwieldy. Once you have your final list, then you can use some tools to find out which keywords you’re most likely to rank well for:

Tools for Keywords Research

With the suggested tools, you would next want to research related search terms, long-tail keywords in each bucket. Then you would want to research what your competitors are using for keywords. Pick two or three of your top competitors and see what they are ranking for. You might see that they are ranking for the same keywords as you are, and then you might see some that you had not considered.

To find out what your competitors are ranking for, AHREF and SEMRush are the two tools that would allow you to run free reports that would show you the top keywords that your competitors are ranking for.

Time to Narrow Your Keyword List

By using Google Adwords Keyword Planner (you can set up a free AdWords Account and not run ads) and Google Trends, you will be able to narrow down your keyword list.

With Google Adwords Keyword Planner, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you’re considering.  Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume.

But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might be something you should invest in now — and reap the benefits for later.

Or perhaps you’re just looking at a list of terms that is unmanageable, and you have to narrow it down somehow … Google Trends can help you determine which words are trending upward and are thus worth more of your focus. (Backlinko has a great step by step on how to use Google Trends for SEO.)

Use Google To Measure

Now you have a list of keywords that will help you focus on the right topics for your business and provide you both short and long term gains.

Be sure you are measuring and tracking your efforts – you will need to make sure your website is connected to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. I also recommend that you connect your website to Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing has its own Keywords Research and SEO Analyzer under its Diagnostics & Tools.

With Google Analytics and Google Search console connected, you will be able to measure your results and identify opportunities for improvement with target keywords and the pages you want to rank for.

Google Search Console will tell you what keywords your visitors are using to find your content, what content they are finding, and where it is ranking in Google.

Create SEO Goals for Your Pages

Ideally, you should set up in your Google Analytics account SEO (search engine optimization) goals along with the creation of corresponding conversion pages to track. As an example,  when someone views a page with a conversion element on it (like contact us or request information forms), but to generate a report when a form has been filled out and submitted.

That page should have its own URL and include the NOINDEX meta-tag so that they are not displayed organically, which will reduce false positive hits and provide better accuracy in reporting.

In Conclusion – Your Three SEO Goals

Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months — once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some business owners like to do it even more often than that.

Patience and consistency are vital in building and improving your ranking. Content is still king. Content is what attracts visitors. During the last quarter of 2019,  Google announced BERT – their new way of searching based on its new natural language processing technology. The goal behind BERT is to improve search results in conversational search queries to the results better match the intent behind them. What does that mean for you?

Remember earlier about user persona? The pain points? The problem you solve for your target market? Now look back at your content – your goal with your content is to:

With the right keywords, focusing on your user personas and their user intent and delivering the content they want – your website will rank accordingly. That is what you need to remember.

As you gain even more authority in the SERPs (search engine results pages), you’ll find that you can add more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence and then growing in new areas on top of that.

About Christine Laikind: Founder of SCS Digital Marketing, WordCamp and local WordPress Speaker on various topics including Web Accessibility and Digital Marketing, Coffee Lover and enjoys motorcycle riding through the mountains in the South with her husband.

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