A cornerstone of any successful marketing effort, is empathy with one’s target audience. Contrary to what many cowboy SEO operators might suggest, the best search engines and the best SEO practitioners have a common goal. That goal is to provide online searchers with the results that are most relevant to their queries and their intent. It cannot therefore be emphasized enough, that understanding your target audience is critical in order to build a successful SEO and overall online marketing strategy.
The moment you understand how your target market searches for your specific product(s), resources or services, you are more than halfway down the road to effectively and cheaply reaching out to them. Search engines are just tools. At the heart of the search process though, is the very human desire to satisfy a particular need. These needs tend to be navigational, transactional, or informational.
Many people use search engines because they do not remember the exact URL to a specific organization’s website. This really is the online equivalent of using the search engines as a directory listing. For example, a user might search for “Midwest Airlines”, because they are trying to reach that site to book a flight, or get a flight schedule.
There are many opportunities for owners of businesses to optimize their sites and SEO to ensure that their results are also included in the results when a user searches for a competing business.
Many business and website owners make the mistake of just focusing on transactions that involve a monetary exchange, such as sales and payments. The truth in the new digital age though, is that transactions can take other forms, such as new account signups, requests for more information (sales contact), or even just restaurant reservations.
Examples of this type include queries such as ‘how can I pay my parking ticket online?’.
These searches account for the largest quantity of searches online. Popular examples include local maps, local weather, driving directions, or something as esoteric as the weight of the heaviest man ever recorded. Included in informational searches too, are cases when users are researching alternative products, services, or solutions to a problem they might have.
Although the expectation for users performing such queries is usually nothing more than just clicking and reading, many opportunities for businesses exist. Understanding what problems your service, product or resource offerings solve for the users will help you focus your SEO efforts in ensuring that your site is displayed to users searching for relevant information.
According to research by the Penn State University, a full 80% of all search engine queries are informational. Although informational queries might not immediately translate to dollars and cents in sales, their sheer volume means that you should ignore them in your SEO efforts.
Optimizing your site and online marketing for such queries allows you to market your brand, and begin to build a relationship with your potential customers before the competition does. Given that for many people, the search for information is to allow them to compare and contrast alternatives, capturing this audience will ensure that at the very least, the benefits of your products or services are accurately represented.