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How to use SEO persona to boost search performance

Learn how to create and use SEO personas to gain organic search visibility and performance. Use search personas to refine SEO strategy, find keywords/themes and connect with the right audience efficiently.
16 Min Read    |   April 16, 2024

Table Of Contents

    Jenny, a marketing manager for a mid-sized business in San Francisco, knows various digital marketing strategies and has extensive experience with SEO. Her main goal is to help her company increase its presence and stand out from its competitors online.

    Hence, Jenny wants to improve the organic reach of her website, drive more user traffic, and increase conversions. She understands the importance of creating content tailored to her ideal customers and correctly optimizing it with well-researched keywords.

    However, Jenny knows that there are many established companies with a strong SEO presence in the same industry as hers. Thus, she needs to carry out marketing campaigns that will make her company stand out from the crowd. She also needs to keep up with the constant changes in search algorithms and adjust her game plan accordingly.

    What methods can Jenny use to optimize her SEO efforts?

    One of the simplest tools that Jenny can use to reach her goals is buyer personas. Or more specifically, an SEO persona. It will help Jenny identify niche keywords and themes that are relevant to her company and bring in quality user traffic.

    Using personas in digital marketing

    Before we get into the specifics of personas in SEO, let's look at its broader use in digital marketing.

    A persona represents a specific user type within a targeted psychographic, demographic, and behavioral group. The group members use a website, brand, or product similarly. These user sketches essentially help you understand the needs, motivations, and goals of your customers.

    Earlier, personas were created solely using qualitative manual methods leveraging surveys, interviews, and focus groups. With significant development in technology, persona generation has evolved to be powered by data-driven development. First-party data can be used in combination with public data sources such as voice of customer data using persona generator tools like Persona by Delve AI to create data-driven personas.

    Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, broadly includes all marketing campaigns implemented on the internet. By building personas based on data generated by such digital marketing activities, businesses will have access to data that represents the key characteristics of their online users and buyers.

    Uses of personas in digital marketing

    Digital marketers mainly use personas in the following ways.

    • Identify target audience: Personas help businesses address their target audience within a particular channel. Using online information, businesses can gain clarity on customer needs, goals, and motivations.
    • Create personalized messages: Businesses can create personalized marketing messages for paid advertisements and organic marketing.
    • Recommend content topics: Identify the type of content your target audience prefers and create a content marketing plan around it.
    • Optimize user experience: Change website structure and navigational experiences/journeys according to persona needs and behaviors.

    Nowadays, most businesses engage with their customers online. Search engines are turning out to be one of the most important channels for digital communication. Needless to say, businesses must learn and implement SEO to increase their media visibility and ranking.

    What is SEO? How does it help you target the right audience?

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of digital marketing. It includes techniques used to improve the ranking of websites on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO employs various methods, like optimizing your website's structure, building high-quality backlinks from other websites, and using relevant keywords throughout your website content. The main aim of SEO is to increase the visibility of your website on the search engine results page (SERP).

    Why is SEO really that important? Take a look at these stats collected from various sources to understand the importance of SEO in marketing.

    One of the major advantages of using SEO in marketing is that it gets organic traffic to your website. You don't have to pay every time a user clicks on the links to visit your site. It also helps improve customer experience, increase user traffic, generate leads, and build credibility.

    Buyers in almost all industries are moving online and using search engines to inform their buying decisions. They know what they want and where to get it. Hence, businesses should adopt SEO strategies to drive more traffic to their websites and increase customer conversions.

    Key components of a successful SEO strategy

    The goal of an SEO strategy is to increase the quality and quantity of your website traffic.

    Key components of SEO campaigns

    A successful campaign typically involves:

    Keyword research: Since only ~5% of all keywords get more than 10 searches per month, it becomes important to identify niche search words.

    On-page SEO: Ensuring that your website's content and structure are optimized for search engines. It includes optimizing title tags, header tags, and meta descriptions.

    Off-page SEO: Building high-quality backlinks from other websites to improve the authority and credibility of your website.

    Content creation: Producing relevant content that appeals to users and is search engine friendly.

    Technical SEO: Make sure that the technical components of your website (crawlability, mobile friendliness, speed) are optimized.

    All these components are important for formulating an effective SEO strategy for your business. Executed properly and consistently, you will eventually see significant impact in terms of user traffic, leads, and revenue.

    Using personas for SEO to identify target audience

    Though we know that keyword research is an essential part of SEO, 63% of marketers believe that keyword data from search engines doesn't provide enough insights into their target audiences. In fact, 40% of them struggle to deliver consistent high quality content. Given all the tools available to content marketers these days, these are surprising statistics indeed.

    Personas can help improve your SEO performance. They inform you about the keywords and themes that resonate with your target audience and the content you should deliver to effectively engage those users.

    Let's take a look at the following example to understand this better:

    A software company has launched a new learning management system (LMS) in the market. It allows K-12 teachers to efficiently monitor their student's progress and enhances teacher-student interaction. It also provides multimedia support, automated grading, data analysis, collaborative tools, and improved accessibility options.

    The primary and secondary end-users of this software are teachers and students. However, the ones who usually buy this software are the people in the school administration system.

    Imagine that you have been hired as the marketing head of the company. Your company expects you to optimize its web content and increase the sales of this new software. As part of your SEO strategy, who will be your target audience?

    The ones who are the end users of the software? Or those that actually make the final decision to purchase it?

    Through simple research, you will find the following keywords related to each segment.

    Batch 1: “what is learning management system,” “importance of lms to students,” and “how to use lms.”

    Batch 2: “best elearning software to build courses,” “learning management system software pricing,” and “data security in lms.”

    You will notice that Batch 1 will have a higher search volume compared to Batch 2. The keywords in the former are informational, the users are making general queries about the software. Meanwhile, the keywords in the latter are commercial. They depict a strong buyer's intent.

    The keywords found in both the batches are relevant to the software you are selling. So, which terms should you try to rank for? If you target the former keywords with the mindset that it will bring more traffic to your website, it will work. But what next?

    Your company's goal was to increase the sales of its new LMS software. Sure, getting end-users to notice your product is a very good idea. Some clicks might even lead to sales conversions.

    However, it will be much more beneficial to generate and optimize your content around the keywords in the second batch. At the end of the day, these are the key decision makers who will buy the new software and bring it to most of your users. Hence, your SEO strategy should center around the buyer persona in Batch 2 rather than the user persona in Batch 1.

    Through this basic example, you can see how personas influence an SEO strategy. Once you discover the right customer persona and related keywords, you can move on to other SEO components like content creation and website optimization.

    How can personas guide your SEO plan?

    Ideally, personas should be the basis of all your marketing efforts, inclusive of your SEO strategies. They can help guide the following SEO functions.

    How can personas guide your SEO plan?

    Identify relevant keywords: The goals and motivations of specific personas help businesses identify keywords relevant to their target audience.

    Craft compelling titles and meta descriptions: By understanding their user traffic and segments, businesses can create personalized titles and meta descriptions. This increases the click-through rate (CTR) of their website.

    Develop targeted content: Businesses can develop content tailored to user needs, which can improve the ranking of their website on search engines.

    Optimize user experience: Businesses can optimize the user experienc of their website to better meet customer needs and expectations. Using personas in your SEO strategies can help you optimize the structure of your web pages and help deliver delightful experiences. This in turn can improve the performance and authority of your website.

    What is an SEO persona?

    You can also create personas solely (or primarily) for SEO.

    Known as SEO or search personas, they represent distinct segments of internet users who search using specific keywords on the internet and visit your website.

    They are created to help businesses and professionals understand the needs and behaviors of their online target audience. You can use this information to easily tailor your SEO strategies and meet those needs.

    That said, developing an SEO persona for your business requires thorough efforts to research and identify users who are likely to be interested in your website's products or services.

    SEO personas include information about user demographics, interests, goals, and behaviors along with the type of keywords they might use. Start by creating detailed personas for each user type utilizing these insights. You can then develop a targeted marketing strategy and optimize your website for keywords most likely to be used by your audience.

    SEO personas can guide your content creation and SEO objectives. You can use their goals and characteristics to inform your writing style, tone, and choice of topics. This will help you create content that resonates well with your target audience.

    Methods of creating an SEO persona

    You won't likely find a lot of online resources that teach you how to create an SEO persona. Creating SEO personas is not that difficult though, and you can do so using data-driven approaches and leveraging social media data.

    Create SEO persona using data-driven approaches

    A data-driven SEO persona is created by using keyword search data and data from online analytics platforms.

    A business can formulate a focused SEO plan that takes into account the needs of the users behind search queries. This further brings in the right user traffic to your website, reduces bounce rates, and generates high quality leads.

    You can follow the steps given below to create accurate data-driven SEO personas.

    • Generate personas for your business: Create personas for the different customer segments present in your business. The SEO personas created will be segmented versions of these customer personas from an SEO point of view.
    • Make a list of keywords using online analytics: Make a list of keywords that are driving traffic to your business. You can use tools like Google Search Console or Google Keywords Planner to identify and list your keywords. These platforms will allow you to rank them according to monthly search volume and SEO difficulty.
    • Filter your keywords: Remove keywords that are not in line with your customer segments. You will end up with high quality keywords that are relevant to your business.
    • Create keyword clusters: Segment the keywords based on your business goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). You can create keyword clusters using segmentation approaches like the topic, intent, and customer journey.
    • Build user profiles: Build user profiles by aggregating keyword clusters with visitor demographics data for your website. This can be done using data from online analytics data sources such as Google Analytics.
    • Create SEO personas: Enrich profiles with attributes like names, photos, and topics of interest taken from your keyword data to create SEO personas.

    A number of these steps can be done automatically by leveraging persona generator tools such as Persona by Delve AI.

    An SEO persona created using data-driven approaches is much more refined than those created manually. They are supported by search engine and analytics data, which enables businesses to create focused online content for their website visitors.

    Use social media data to create an SEO persona

    SEO personas can be created by integrating keyword data with social media data. It combines keyword data from research tools like Google Ads, Google Search Console, and Ubersuggest with social insights from audience intelligence tools like Social Persona by Delve AI and SparkToro.

    As customers are expressive about their wants online, social media data provides rich insights into customer behavior, preference, and needs. However, a survey found that 61% of SEOs don't integrate social media data into their SEO strategy.

    Rory Hope lists four key benefits of integrating search data with audience personas:

    1. Gain behavioral insights into keyword-level "search audiences" by analyzing social consumer segmentation data from audience intelligence reports.
    2. Enhance keyword-level content strategy and SEO topical modeling by integrating keyword intelligence and audience intelligence insights.
    3. Improve keyword-level content strategy and SEO topic modelling using insights obtained.
    4. Prospect hyper-relevant influencers and link opportunities per niche search audience efficiently within a keyword segment.

    You can use the following steps to create your SEO personas enriched with social media insights.

    Step 1: Conduct keyword research

    Use keyword intelligence tools like Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, and Excel to identify keywords relevant to your business. You can also include competitor keywords. Segment the keywords you have found into different keyword clusters. This will help you develop tailored content and different SEO strategies for each of the keyword clusters. This is followed by keyword cleaning, where you get rid of keywords that are generic.

    Step 2: Identify competitors

    Tag your keywords on relevant topics or subtopics. Use keyword analysis tools to get your keyword ranking. Identify competitors that rank well for the keyword topics or segments that you have uploaded into the keyword research tool.

    Transfer this data into Excel sheets and format them. Identify the best performers for each keyword segment. Clean up your keyword data to include only those competitors which focus on niche keywords relevant to your business.

    Step 3: Use audience intelligence tools to create an SEO persona

    List out your main SEO competitors per keyword segment and their corresponding social media handles. Upload these handles into audience intelligence or audience persona generation platforms to create SEO personas.

    Following these steps will enable you to gather social media behavioral data for your search audiences at a keyword level. You will be able to identify influencer entities (people, companies or brands) important to the people who search around the keywords relevant to your business.

    Integrate persona in your SEO campaigns

    Now that you have created the right personas for SEO, it's time to leverage them in keyword research, content marketing, and link building.

    Application of personas in SEO

    Keyword research using SEO persona

    Keyword research is an essential part of the keyword intelligence process.

    Keyword intelligence refers to the process of collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data on keywords to inform and improve your SEO strategy. The goal is to target keywords most relevant to your business and discover how people are using them online.

    Keyword research involves three steps: brainstorming, filtering and segmentation, and implementation. Continue scrolling to discover how the SEO personas you've created can be used in all the three stages.

    Brainstorming

    The first step of conducting keyword research is brainstorming. The marketing team meets up during this stage to list out the keywords that their company should use. Keywords are selected based on the target audience and competition that have the greatest potential to drive traffic and conversions.

    You can create competitor personas to thoroughly examine the websites which are ranking for the keywords you are targeting. Analyze their content, structure, backlinks, and other factors contributing to their position on search engines. This will help you understand the level of competition for those keywords and identify opportunities to modify your website.

    That said, SEO personas are crucial in the brainstorming stage. Once you know what your personas are looking for, it makes it easier to identify and prioritize the right search terms. By applying SEO persona keywords, you can ensure the accuracy of the keywords selected. Accurate keywords will bring in potential customers and generate leads.

    Filtering and segmentation

    Once you have selected your keywords and listed them in Excel sheets, you can move on to filtering them. Discard the keywords that are irrelevant to your business and do not have a decent search volume. Segment the remaining keywords based on different topics and themes. This will allow you to build unique marketing strategies for each keyword segment.

    SEO personas give information that can be used to determine the keyword segments crucial for your business. You can also group keywords into the following categories to target the different personas you have created.

    1. Topic: Create topical clusters that you can further segment into themes.
    2. User intent: You can classify most keywords into three categories based on the search intent of your SEO persona. They will include:
      • Informational keywords: Includes short-tail keywords wherein users want to get information on a particular subject.
      • Navigational keywords: Consists of long tail keywords wherein the user wants to reach a particular webpage.
      • Transactional keywords: Keywords employed to complete an action on a website or buy something.
    3. Buyer journey: You can use a buyer's journey framework to segment your persona keywords. The stages of the buyer journey are as follows:
      • Research: Used in Top of Funnel searches, these keywords are used to gather information.
      • Decision Making: Used in Middle of Funnel searches, these keywords are used to narrow down potential product/service choices.
      • Purchase: Used in Bottom of Funnel searches, these keywords are used to identify the right seller for the purchase of a product/service.

    Take note that some keywords may fall into more than one segment. However, you can target each segment separately or in combination with each other to be more efficient in your efforts.

    Implementation

    After you have segmented your keywords, start including them in your content marketing plan. This step will be the culmination of all your efforts and the beginning of your marketing funnel. Use the keywords to optimize your website's content and structure. Next, you can track the results achieved to understand the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.

    SEO personas do not have a direct impact on the implementation stage. However, they give you insights that can assist you in creating marketing funnels and testing the impact of your content.

    Content marketing using SEO persona

    Remember the SEO personas created using data-driven approaches and social media data? You can use them to create content that is in line with your SEO goals.

    Look at the influencer entities of the personas created. These influencers are other social media accounts that your personas regularly engage with and follow. They can be people, companies, or brands. Influencer entities will help you discover the people you want to build relationships with and get backlinks from.

    Integrate your top keyword influencer entities with social listening tools like Pulsar or Meltwater. Use them to perform content analysis on the same SEO persona influencer entities and develop your SEO topic model content plan. You can set up dashboards for each keyword segment and get real time insights for your content marketing teams.

    You can use data-driven SEO personas to discover web pages that users are likely to visit by understanding their topics of interest. Once you have identified frequently visited web pages, use keyword analysis tools to find keywords that bring traffic to these pages.

    Create content around these keywords and review the links on your websites that lead to these pages. Furthermore, create internal links to as many different web pages as possible within your website. Of course, these links have to be relevant to your content and in line with the interests of your personas.

    This is the only way to ensure that users click on these links.

    That said, the more internal links a webpage has, the better it is for your website. Creating links is an effective technique to inform your target personas and increase traffic to different web pages.

    Just make sure that you focus on quality more than quantity when it comes to creating internal links.

    Link building is an important element of SEO. It has a big impact on the performance of your website on search engines. Link building is the practice of obtaining valuable links directing users to your website from other websites. A hyperlink, usually known as a backlink, is used to allow users to move between different web pages.

    To increase the number of backlinks to your website, you need a solid link-building strategy. You can create link-worthy content that is used as a resource by other websites and shared by your target audience. You can also use techniques like guest posting and link baiting to improve your chances of getting backlinks.

    Now, how can SEO personas help you with link building? Read along to find out.

    Guest Posting

    Guest posting is an SEO technique wherein you create content for other websites. It is one of the most effective ways of creating backlinks for your websites.

    You generally create content for websites that will feature your posts on their sites with a backlink. Guest posting sites usually cater to an audience relevant to your business. Reach out to them with your content and attract traffic, increase brand visibility, build relationships, and boost your domain authority.

    SEO personas can be used to enhance the guest posting process. Since you already know your target audience, you can easily find out what they are interested in and read about. This will give you a list of websites they regularly visit, allowing you to create content for the same.

    SEO personas help you identify new content topics for guest posting. You can also create specific guest post titles which are well researched and relevant to your target websites and their audience.

    Guest posting will further allow you to increase your authority and influence in the industry you inhabit.

    Link Bait

    If you don't want to use guest posting websites to get backlinks, you can use link baits.

    Link baiting is the process of creating valuable content for your website that makes other websites, bloggers, and content publishers link back to it. If you think that your website already has such content, you can also reach out to other relevant websites. Ask them to link back to your blog articles via email campaigns and other means.

    SEO personas will help you formulate effective and targeted content that can be used as link baits. It makes sense to use them since you already know what your target audience searches for and discusses online.

    Look at the sites and pages your personas frequent to learn about the sources they link to. Understand the type of content they are publishing as well as its structure. Keep in mind their interests and goals. You should build contacts and publish content on your site that helps these websites achieve their goals.

    Conclusion:

    Personas based on market research will help you optimize aspects of your SEO and marketing campaigns. They allow you to bring in more customers, overtake competitors,create brand awareness, and make efficient use of your marketing budget.

    Of all the different approaches for creating SEO personas for your business website, pick the one that is cost effective and gives you the best insights into your targeted user traffic. Apply them in your SEO content strategy and link building plans to generate high quality leads/buyers and meet your revenue goals!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is an SEO persona?

    An SEO or a search persona is a semi-fictional representation of a distinct segment of internet users who search for specific keywords and visit your website. They help search engine marketers understand what users are looking for and develop content that ranks high in search results, thus drawing in more organic traffic.

    How can user personas improve SEO performance?

    User personas can greatly improve your SEO performance by helping you:

    • Identify relevant keywords based on user intent, goals, and motivations
    • Craft compelling titles and meta descriptions tailored to specific customer segments
    • Develop content that resonates with consumer needs and interests
    • Optimize user experience, website performance, and authority
    Create personas automatically from your Google Analytics data
    Gain a deeper understanding of your digital customers

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