Understanding your target audience is key to boosting your SEO. Source: Shutterstock

How audience research helps you unlock the ROI in your SEO

WHAT does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) really do? If things go to plan, SEO is intended to bring your audience to you via search engines.

Technically speaking, so long as your content marketers are using the right keyword, you should be able to achieve that.

However, is it enough to classify your target audience with keywords?

In today’s competitive world, it’s critical to understand your target audience so you can fine-tune your language and message to meet their needs.

Helping the florist build a flourishing business

Consider the example of a florist in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Their best bet, they think, is producing content that talks about the different flower arrangements they offer, the various pots and vases they stock, and their ability to deliver products quickly and efficiently. It’s perfectly in line with their keyword research.

Are they wrong? Of course.

Their audience doesn’t care about the varieties of bouquets or about the art of arranging flowers.

Instead, they care about the meaning of flowers for people of different cultures and are interested in knowing whether their intended recipient will appreciate the gesture.

For the florist, building a blog that discussed why flowers matter in Asia, how they’re seen by people of different ethnicities and cultures, what they mean when offered to a boss, a colleague, a friend, a partner, etc would yield significantly better results.

Studying your target audience

Uncovering such insights about your target audience requires something special. You need to focus on them, completely. You need to think like them, go where they go, and see the world through their eyes.

This is why agencies often have trouble getting outsized returns for your investment in SEO. They simply don’t have enough time to invest in understanding your audience.

In-house specialists, on the other hand, should be asked to dive deep into the subject matter that they’re marketing, allowing them to see, think, and feel exactly like the consumer would.

If you’re looking for ways to better understand your target audience, here are some ideas:

Attend conferences:

While it may not seem like the best way to learn about what’s in the mind of the customer at a florist’s shop, it’s a great place for automakers and LED manufacturers to learn about their target audience.

Industry-specific conferences bring specialists together and attract a lot of customers who’re evaluating or reviewing products and services relevant to them.

Here, the crowds will tell you what exactly they’re exchanging their time and money for – and what your content needs to discuss.

Listen to a few podcasts:

Successful podcasts often help marketers understand their audience better, especially if hosted by an end-user instead of an industry insider.

Ideally, listening to podcasts about your industry will give you a new perspective on what’s critical to your industry. It’s your chance to learn about new angles (that interest your audiences) to the same stories.

Amazon book search:

Instead of using the keywords on a search engine to check out the competition, how about using them on the Amazon book search to check out what your audience reads?

It’s going to give you insights about the content they will pay to read and help you better understand what attracts them?

Is it more appealing to have a known specialist write for you instead of your in-house team? Do your customers need you to focus on solutions rather than better explain the problem? Books can really help understand this.

University classes:

When was the last time you went to university? A decade ago? Well, universities have changed and evolved – and they’ve updated their curriculum.

Giving your old professors or the dean a call is worth a shot. It might help you re-discover what’s most current in your industry and what is coming next.

This approach is most useful for companies in science, technology, economics, and math.


When people see a survey and a report, they think that the company has made efforts to understand the industry and their needs – and invest time in engaging with the content.

It’s a great way for companies to not only create exceptional content that is authentic and high-quality, but also an opportunity to make the audience feel that the business cares about them.

Conducting and publishing surveys also gives marketers the required understanding of the target audience that can help bring other marketing efforts on-track.