Why Marketing Personas Matter to SEO
Marketing Personas: fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way. (thank you Wikipedia!). Marketing personas have been used for ages to help marketers mold and shape their strategies, designs and messaging to better target their potential customers. This concept is nothing new, however to search marketers it is a relatively young idea. In fact in many search only agencies, you’d be hard pressed to find this sort of research being done at all. I have an example to share for those that would ask the question, “how is a marketing persona really going to affect my SEO campaign?”
A few months back I was beginning the keyword research process for a new client going through a site redesign. It was initially an easy process because they were actually targeting a lot of the same keywords as we are, things like “SEO services”, “social media management” and “website design & development”. This got me thinking about our own SEO strategies and how they might apply to this particular client. Then I sat down with their design firm, who had conducted some market research on their customer base and had assembled some great example personas. It very quickly hit me how different their target market was to our own. Where we might be looking to find a VP of Digital Marketing or a CMO, this company was aiming to serve the small business owner, the local plumber who needs a website or the flower shop on the corner that wants to be “in the Google”. Would these two sets of people search the same way for our similar service sets? Most definitely not.
Not only did this information shift my keyword choices from “paid search agency” and “search marketing company” to something more like “how can I show up in Google” or “marketing services for small business”, but it also completely changed the focus on the site. Rather than developing content around the services and their landing pages, the focus shifted towards their blog, content surrounding the different business types and how they might find more customers, general and basic marketing ideas, informative “what is” type content. In other words, had we not utilized the persona research we may have spent a lot of time and effort targeting a group of people that never would have converted.