A single search can speak volumes about a person.
Metrics collected on search engines and websites, such as time spent and clicks on page, can reveal a surprising amount of information about your website users.
Businesses can isolate specific pages which lead to sales, search terms customers used to find a business, and even new personas to develop based on the data. SEO is as much about market research as it is about brand visibility.
You may ask then, “how do I use SEO to learn more about my customers?” It starts with the Five W’s (and 1 H) principle applied in journalism and research:
Answering these questions will help any business determine their audience’s main personalities, traits, characteristics, pain points and goals.
That information can then be used towards better quality products and services, and more consistent customer experiences.
Most of these techniques will utilize Google Analytics, a free web analytics tool that provides some insights into user behavior and engagement. Learn more about Google’s tool here.
Who: User Demographics and Interests
People make their decisions and develop their worldview based on their experiences, environment, and needs. A 22-year old student living in London, England has a vastly different personality compared to a 52-year old mother in Austin, Texas.
Google Analytics has a specific section under AUDIENCE called “Demographics” and “Interests”.
The first category allows businesses to segment their traffic based on their age and gender. The latter category goes even deeper- highlighting the Affinity Categories (lifestyles) a user may fall under, such as shoppers, technophiles, travel buffs, and more.
In-market segments can give you an idea of the user’s location within the buyer’s journey, whether it’s early on or towards the end. This can give businesses a clue as to which type of content to prioritize, and for which stage of the journey.
A user’s location greatly influences the type of content a business should create. Under AUDIENCE > Geo > Location, traffic can be segmented by country and by city.
Local SEO has proven to be one of the most important digital marketing tactics, especially in an increasingly fragmented and saturated online landscape. Businesses should evaluate which cities contribute most to their traffic, and then developed tailored content for users from that area.
Learn about three other tactics any business can use to bolster their local SEO presence.
What: Desired Content, Product or Service
With a better idea of your audience personas, the next thing you can determine is what they’re after. Is it a new television? Legal counsel? Advertising services?
Start with your most visited pages. Under ACQUISITION > Search Console > Landing Pages, you’ll see a list of web pages that users first visit upon entering your website. By gleaning which pages catch your users’ attention, you can infer what kind of content to develop for prospects and leads.
For example, visitors may be clicking on a guide to a particular concept (like a blog about PPC for example). This may suggest the users need more research before taking another action. Other clues can come from shares, comments, and views on a page.
When: User Activity and Schedules
Customers can be fickle and easily distracted. They often have a hundred other things they’re supposed to be doing, so businesses only have a short window of opportunity to grab attention and make their case.
Develop a posting schedule for blogs and social media posts. It’s best to start out posting frequently, experimenting by posting during different hours throughout the week.
After a long enough period, you’ll notice patterns in traffic and engagement on the graph. Peak traffic is usually early afternoon and evenings, while lulls occur during the weekend and holidays.
Why: Search Intent
Behind every keyword search and every website visited is a user in search of something. Finding the purpose behind a search can be challenging, but not impossible.
One way to start is by checking a few search engine results pages (SERP). For example, a search for “drive-in movie theater” will bring up results for actual drive-in theaters in your area. While Google could have easily served up images, the definition or history of the drive-in theater, it instead served the most relevant results.
Try different keywords and phrases. Food terms like “apple pie” will either result in recipes or nearby restaurants. Learn how some keywords are tied to particular results and search intent, and you can start developing content more in line with what customers are looking for.
How: User Journey
Learning how the user got to the website is just one part of the story. Next, businesses should strive to learn how customers navigate the website.
Under Google Analytics, click on BEHAVIOR > Behavior Flow. This will present the path that a website’s users take from the landing page to the following events or pages visited.
Visualizing a user’s behavior through the website can help businesses identify which pages engage users the most. Behavior Flow also indicates which pages could be enhanced or fixed.
Heatmaps are another, more graphic way to display user interaction. Not only can you see the flow of pages, but recordings of how users click, scroll, and interact with those webpages.
By understanding where users are most likely to click, you can position your most important content accordingly and drive more conversions.
Understanding The Modern Customer
The consumers of today have more specifications and more research tools than ever before.
While technology and information have evolved over the years, the buyer’s journey remains the same. Consumers have a problem, conduct research, evaluate their options, and then make a final decision.
With all the data points created through online tracking, businesses can develop a more accurate and actionable profile of their audience than ever before.
Check out our 2018 SEO Checklist, a list of all the SEO initiatives businesses should consider this year.
Learn more about the buyer’s journey, and how businesses can drive higher conversions just by understanding where their users are in their path.