1. Establish Goals & Identify Target Audience

What Will Success Look Like?

The first step in determining your SEO strategy is deciding how you’ll measure success. Since this is an SEO strategy, the first thought is usually “rank highly in search results.” However, defining your goal is really answering the question “Why do I want to rank highly in search results?” There are two types of goals you can base your strategy around:

  • Branding: This goal is basically seeking to make you more popular by getting your brand in front of as many people as possible while creating a positive link between your brand and the user. You can measure success here by increased traffic and better user engagement by tracking impressions, click through rate (CTR), pages per session or decreasing bounce rate. Optimizing for brand awareness isn’t going to lead directly to increased sales, but it will make you memorable and increase the likelihood of return visits from customers when they are in-market and ready to buy.
  • Conversion: A “conversion” is an an action taken on your website, whether that be a sale, email newsletter signup or downloading an app. Measuring success for conversion goals is simple: Are the total number of conversions, or conversion rate, increasing? This is the most common campaign goal for digital marketing.

This isn’t an either-or situation. You can use a hybrid SEO strategy that uses some keywords to rank highly for high-volume, poorly-converting searches, while also targeting extremely well-converting keywords that don’t get as much volume.

Determine Your Audience

The next step is figure out who your potential customers are. The best way to do this is to construct buyer personas (also known as marketing personas). Buyer personas are generalized representations of your customers – they tell you who’s interested in and using your products. When building your buyer personas, Google Analytics is your best friend.

Start looking at broad information and then get more granular. In Analytics, select Overview under Demographics. You’ll see the breakdown of visitors by age and gender.

Google Analytics age and gender
Google Analytics age and gender section

A quick look tells us our target audience for our business is 25 to 34 year-old men. Next, get more granular by checking in the Interests reports. This is where you’ll see what your audience is interested in, and what they’re in-market for when they visit your website.

If you want to get more granular, you can solicit customer interviews or capture personal data via forms on your website. Some information to ask for, depending on what type of business you have, includes:

  • Job title, role and/or responsibilities
  • City, state or country
  • Industry
  • Communication preferences
  • Company size
  • Family background and status

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