With Google’s domination of search traffic (although Bing is catching up), one of the key ways to attract new customers to your business is through solid search rankings. Whether you are an entrepreneur just starting out and developing your online tool kit or running an established business, understanding your audience is the core of a good search strategy. Here’s how to leverage market research to improve your website’s performance.
The importance of search and how it relates to market research
What does search performance mean in simple terms? When a potential customer goes into Google and enters a keyword, ten results pop up on the first page. The sites that appear are those that Google determines are most relevant to the query based on a number of factors, sometimes including location or prior search history. Sites that rank on the first page of Google for a specific query get an overwhelming percentage of the traffic for those keywords.
Traditional search engine optimization or SEO focuses on understanding target keywords and then gearing your content to those terms. This is still the foundation of a good practice – but may no longer be enough. Many innovative firms are pairing this with sophisticated market research to really analyze their audience and create content that’s at the nexus of good keyword strategy and material that moves human readers to take action. This is where your market research strategy comes in.
Understanding core themes
Keyword searches can be tied to the core underlying themes that drive your audience to do those searches in the first place. If you’re an advertising agency for example, your customers might be finding specific service pages that you offer by looking for terms like “book promotion strategies.” It’s one thing to optimize your site to attract those searchers; it’s another to really understand their problems and create high value content. High value content will convince readers of your expertise, and help convert them into customers. It also serves another purpose – passing Google’s quality test.
The importance of quality content
Google is famous in the SEO community for implementing a series of ongoing changes that make it harder to rank well. The alternate perspective is that they are serious about improving the quality of the search results that their users receive. One of the major metrics that they use as an arbiter of value is quality content. This can be measured by everything from how often it’s shared on social channels to how Google’s army of human quality raters ranks your content. There’s one core input that allows you to create excellent content: understanding your audience’s needs.
Putting it all together
The first step in using market research to enhance your search and content campaigns is developing a deep understanding of what your customers need from you. Once you have this, your team can use that information to develop a more effective list of target keywords. Content can then be developed that both targets the keywords and addresses your customers’ most critical concerns. Finally, your understanding of your audience’s mobile and web habits can be used to disseminate that info in the most effective ways possible.
While market research may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning your SEO strategy, understanding the context for your keywords is vital.