7 Methods to Research and Analyze Your Audience for SEO

When I describe SEO, I explain that it is a mixture of marketing, technical know-how and psychology.

From a marketing perspective, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of your product, the problems it solves, and the best way to communicate with your audience.

From a technical perspective, you need to be able to create a foundation for your website that improves search performance.

Now, from a psychological standpoint…this is where an SEO can really make a difference.

If you can learn not only to identify your ideal website visitor, but also to figure out who they are and what motivates them, your SEO work will really pay off. You will have the traffic numbers and also the ROI to support your efforts.

SEO is not just about the numbers (i.e. keyword ranking positions, number of backlinks, traffic, etc.). It’s also about understanding the audience and building an SEO campaign around that information.

When SEO is focused on the right audience, targeted traffic increases, leading to more conversions.

There are several methods that will help you research and analyze your audience for SEO.

As you’ll see from the list below, there are tools built into each method to make things easier along the way.

1. Use keywords to collect demographic data

Keyword research is one of the main tasks of SEO. Keywords should be targeted and relevant to your products or services, which you probably already know.

Once you have a solid list of keywords, select the top five that best represent your brand and find out the demographics associated with those words and phrases.

Google Trends will provide you with demographic information related to the location and show you how the keyword has changed over time.

Google Trends really came in handy during the pandemic, when people’s online behaviors were changing rapidly.

A client of mine posts recipes, and the question arose about what kinds of recipes people were looking for when they were stuck at home.

It was banana bread.

Apparently, comfort food was the focus when we couldn’t leave our homes. You can see in the screenshot below how the “banana bread” trend has skyrocketed.

Screenshot from Google Trends, June 2022

But what about demographics?

Google Trends provides great location data, but there’s also another tool I like to use for additional demographic information, Demographics.io. This tool links demographic data to keywords.

Using the same banana bread example, below is the data from people who searched for that keyword.

Demography toolScreenshot from Demographics.io, June 2022

Tip: how to apply this information

Identifying demographic information including age, gender, and location can help you with SEO in several ways.

You can search for local link opportunities in the geographies where the queries occur.

In terms of age and gender, you can determine topics, interests, and other relevant terms for these groups.

2. Identify who visits your website

This method is a bit like painting the target around the arrow.

However, it is important to understand who is coming to your website in order to determine if they are the right audience.

One of the easiest ways to get this information is from Google Analytics.

In the Audience section, you can view a range of audience information, including age, gender, location, and interests, as shown below:

Analytical demographicsScreenshot from Google Analytics, June 2022

Tip: how to apply this information

This data can provide audience insight and help you recommend content topics and target geographies.

On the other hand, you might look at this information and realize that it doesn’t match your organization’s target markets.

In this case, you need to take a close look at your keywords and your content to make sure there is no misalignment.

3. Analyze other brands

To gather information about your target audience, you can look beyond your own website and analyze other brands and competitors.

You are looking for demographic and psychographic data – basically you want to collect as much information as possible. The following tools can help you with this type of analysis.

Quantcast

Quantcast gathers information on shopping behaviors, occupations, device usage, demographics, domain affinity, and more. The example below is an analysis of Goodreads.com.

Analysis of Goodreads.comQuantcast screenshot, June 2022
Analysis of Goodreads.comQuantcast screenshot, June 2022

Hearing

Note: I love this tool and use it often.

According to Audiense.com, they build the audience using eight different criteria, “which can be combined together allowing the creation of highly targeted audiences: Demographics, Relationships, Behavior (activity), Conversations, IBM Watson Personality Insights, Location, Interests and Twitter Profile.

Audiense then creates audience segments by “grouping individuals based on ‘who knows who’, which is how those individuals are interconnected. We take into account who follows whom and group them – for example, if person A follows person B, they will be grouped.

The first screen of the report provides an overview of audience data, as shown below.

Audience InformationAudiense screenshot, June 2022

What’s so great about this tool is that you can dig even deeper. Just check the breakdown of available information (see the red box in the screenshot).

Audiense Insights GoodreadsAudiense screenshot, June 2022

Tip: how to apply this information

Similar to the last method, this data can provide audience insight and help you recommend content topics and target geographies.

You might also find great link building ideas based on your interests.

4. Use social information

Social platforms are one of the fastest ways to gain insights into an audience.

You can display follower/fan information directly on your Facebook business page as shown below:

Facebook InsightsFacebook screenshot, June 2022

You can also check the audience information of competitors and other brands on Followerwonk.

What’s great about this tool is that it also provides you with a word cloud to show you what users are talking about:

Followwonk word cloudScreenshot by Followerwonk, June 2022

Tip: how to apply this information

Specifically, the word cloud in Followerwonk can help you identify other keywords you may have missed and can also showcase content marketing ideas.

5. Send surveys

This method is the easiest of all on this list. If you want to better understand your audience, send out a survey.

To get a decent number of returned surveys, keep it short and sweet. Ask questions about basic demographics, general interests, pain points and needs.

Here’s a great resource on how to create your survey: How to Create and Use Surveys for Content Marketing.

Tip: how to apply this information

Use the information you collect in the survey to identify content opportunities, including images and videos, keyword targets, and more.

6. Identify issues

With Google showing more and more answers directly in the SERPs, identifying common user questions has become all the more important.

Additionally, we want to anticipate long-tail queries from our potential audience, so we can meet them at the right time. There are many tools that provide common questions, including:

These tools come from a variety of data sources, so it’s worth checking them all out. Below is an example from AnswerThePublic.

AnswerThePublic Research Listening ToolScreenshot from AnswerThePublic, June 2022
Keyword electric cars from Answer The PublicScreenshot from AnswerThePublic, June 2022

Tip: how to apply this information

Create content around common questions to attract long-tail searches among your audience and increase your chances of appearing as a direct answer in Google’s SERPs.

7. Search for secondary data

Once you know the age/interests/etc. of your audience, you can fill in the gaps with further research. Look for studies relating to one of the key aspects of your audience.

For example, if you determine that your audience is in the baby boomer generation, go to Google Scholar and search for published research on that group.

Tip: how to apply this information

Use this additional research to sketch out your personas and get a better view of who you’re trying to target via SEO.

Final Thoughts

It might seem like a lot of extra work to dive into your audience before you jump into SEO tasks. However, it is well worth the time.

You will be able to drive better traffic to your website and improve your SEO ROI.

More resources:


Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

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