Using Keyword Research To Understand Your Target Audience

Keyword research is a valuable part of SEO content writing, but often the focus remains totally fixed on search engines and using keyword phrases to get ranked.

target audience image

“Target Audience” (Image by jscreationzs, freedigitalphotos.net)

But high ranking places with no traffic are not going to convert into sales…

therefore there has to be a target of getting ranked highly, for relevant search results.

And for the results to be relevant, and lead to visitors to your website, you need to understand what the searcher wants to read.

In this article I offer ideas of how you can use keyword research for this purpose and to understand your target audience.

 

Using Search Phrases To Understand Your Audience

One of the challenges with keyword research, is trying to predict what a potential customer will type into the search engine.

If you can match their language and request, and use these words in your title then you stand a better chance of achieving a click through, since the reader will recognise immediately the solution to their problem.

But how to do that?

Some keyword tools will give you the most searched phrases, but often we select less well searched terms because there is a greater chance of ranking for that term. However;

 

sometimes the reason behind why a keyword term will rank higher is because 

no-one actually uses that phrase.

 

So how do you analyse the language that is likely to be used in an actual search query?

 

An Example of Analysing Keyword Language

In this example, which I came across recently when doing research, the main search term at the top (in blue) scores lower than the simpler language version of the same term.

The main search term is using the correct technical terms, but from this result you can see that most ordinary searchers will not use that language but will go for something simpler.

analysing the language in keywords

So from this result using the WA keyword tool I can see that using simpler language will potentially reach more searchers.

This is despite the fact that Google will recognise my term and possibly see the semantic link to the searcher term and still display the result.

Unfortunately though, searchers still have to make a decision to click through and read the article. And they may be less willing to click through to an article if they cannot relate to the language being used.

 

Does Language Choice Affect Search Results

I ran the search results for the following two terms linked to our example.

  • how to improve reading comprehension for children
  • improve reading comprehension for kids

And I got almost identical search returns – so does it matter which term I use in my title?

 

If the language appears too complicated or is not what they expected, then searchers may move further down the results looking for something similar to or using their own wording.

The other factor though is that the total search results displayed were lower for the formal search term.

In the original result using the term ‘kids’ there were 3.9million results, compared to less than 1 million below using the term children.

search results Google

There are less overall results but the top result uses the word kids not child – indicating that Google knows the difference

Does this make a difference?

For traditional keyword use – yes lower competition means a greater chance of appearing in the results.

But this has to be taken in the overall context of these are all low hanging keywords, and all have a roughly equal chance of ranking well, despite the difference in terms that Google is finding – remember the top results were almost identical.

Therefore focusing on ranking is not the main factor, instead it is the click through rate that we are interested in.

 

Language And Click Through Rates

Keyword research can get great results in ranking, but it cannot guarantee that someone will click through and read your article or buy your product.

hand showing click through rate

(Image – “Hand Cursor” by digital art, freedigitalphotos.net)

For that to happen other factors need to be considered.

And for that you need to get inside the mind of your audience and understand exactly what it is that they are looking for.

Why should they click through onto one of your articles, compared to all the others they are looking at?

 

Headlines Are Important

The article headline is often all readers have to go on, before they decide whether to click through and read your article.

It is important therefore to focus on making this as readable to as many people as possible. Trends in optimising headlines keep changing, but advice is often taken from journalism and digital media researchers who monitor top performing content.

This article from the Guardian is one example which outlines some tips on improving headline click through rates, such as;

  • Optimise headline length (8 words)
  • Use questions and ?
  • Lists work well usually of odd numbers (5 tricks…. 7 design ideas .. etc.)

Trends can change though and phrases that have been traditionally used a lot for social media headlines are now found to reduce click through rates. So keeping current with the jargon is a definite must.

 

Social Media

In SERP results there might be the added sentence from a meta description and many social media sites will allow a small description as well. But sometimes for other sites such as Twitter the headline is everything.

In a study carried out by HubSpot they discovered that clearer text and messages achieved a far higher click through rate than those who used more complex messages.

They also discovered that a well thought out article headline made the best Twitter message, so again headlines do matter.

 

Write For Your Audience

The main message coming through from many of these studies is to write for your audience.

Trying to put together fancy keyword headlines to get the attention of search engines is a short term strategy, if the aim is to get traffic to your site.

Learn to understand your audience and know what kind of language they want to read.

One of the ways you can do this is to look at the language used in comment sections at the bottom of posts. This gives an indication of who is really interested in your site.

If you have other ideas for getting to know your audience I’d love to hear about them in the comments section on this site.

Further Reading

There are a number of other articles on this site all looking at differed aspects of keyword research and content production.

Here are some that you may find of interest.

I hope you enjoyed the article and if so please share on your own social media sites that would be appreciated, thanks.

6 thoughts on “Using Keyword Research To Understand Your Target Audience

  1. Chris

    I often find that my work ranks for all kinds of wierd keywords I never really targeted – I guess this is just the way google works? Of course a lot of that traffic does not stay on the page for long as they were looking for a different subject initially – do you see the same kind of results every now and again? Weird ranked phrases?

    Reply
    1. Marie

      I remember reading about Brian Dean discussing this he wrote an article on ‘how to get high rankings’ and started to rank for the phrase ‘how to get high’ which was not people looking for SEO advice! It is worth considering that every sub heading has the potential to rank and so the more specific you can make it even if readers only read that paragraph it is still a war to attract potential new members.

  2. Yaser

    Excellent article.
    Most of the people try to use too many keywords in order to rank higher but fail to understand if the article isn’t audience friendly, it’s useless to rank on top.
    Having a unique headline is most important factor for a successful click.
    Thanks a lot for reminding to target the audience and not higher rank.

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Yaser thanks for commenting and as you mention a high rank and useless information won’t last long and if no-one clicks through there is little point being in the number 1 slot either. Good luck with your own work, Marie

  3. Brian

    Very good article about keyword research and to understand your target audience. I’ll admit at times I tend to go for the correct technical terms and not the simpler language, but I also wanted to go things that make sense. Like you said though the simpler language tends to have more searches so I shouldn’t always discount those. Good stuff!

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Thanks Brian, I think it is probably one of the hardest things to do – to go from writing technical things on topics to then simplifying them into blogging language. Yet another skill on the list to develop!!

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