Knowing Your Audience Offline
Understanding an audience is almost second nature to most search marketers.
But what about targeting for B2C, or improving rankings for an informational site? Sure, sites like Ubersuggest and Google’s Keyword Tool are extremely useful—when you know what you’re looking for. How can you get started with a non-ecommerce client who has no previous optimization strategy? How can you find new keyword ideas for a site that is lacking in informational content?
Get offline and go to the source.
Everyone still breathing? I know it’s radical, but if you are kicking off a B2C project or just thirsty for new ideas, a great resource can be found away from the computer. Find out what your target audience is asking offline. I had a conversation with a friend who is considering pursuing a Master’s degree and seeking advice from me—someone who was familiar with the process of applying. I had a light bulb moment during her inquiry (because I’ve lost the ability to converse normally without including search)—these are the same questions I had when I was searching for an MBA program, only I directed my queries to Google. Understanding what your audience cares about isn’t revolutionary, but listening to them offline can help you target search queries online.
Finding Your Audience.
The best way to capture these queries is to find where these conversations are happening offline. When I began applying to MBA programs I had numerous phone calls with admissions representatives. Three questions I frequently asked were:
- “What are the common career paths of graduates?”
- “Do you offer any kind of need-based or merit-based aid?”
- “Do you offer part-time or flexible class schedules?”
In addition to phone calls, there were online informational sessions, campus visits, and brochures via snail mail that served as endless resources to my endless questions. When I started writing this blog, I revisited the sites of these schools and also entered Google queries based on my questions:
- MBA graduate + job; careers with an MBA
- financial aid + MBA program; graduate school scholarship
- part-time MBA
The results? I found some good schools, some not-so-good schools and some completely irrelevant results. I didn’t even see what ended up being my school of choice—but I received all this information via offline queries and content.
Finding these offline opportunities can be as simple as picking up the phone or sending an email, or even tapping into friend and family networks for that niche audience. If you are a part of the audience you’re aiming for, ask yourself two questions:
- What information do I need to know?
- How can I obtain it?
Once you know what your audience is asking, you can adapt their queries into keywords to branch beyond the general—in this case, “MBA program” or “top MBA programs.”
|Keyword||Global Monthly Searches||Local Monthly Searches|
|jobs with mba||201,000||33,100|
|careers with an mba||90,500||27,100|
|mba graduate jobs||4,400||2,400|
|mba graduate careers||3,600||1,900|
|what job can I get with an mba||1,600||1,000|
|graduate school scholarship||27,100||27,100|
|financial aid for mba||1,300||880|
|part-time mba program||5,400||3,600|
Travel sites are another example that can benefit from this kind of research. Everyone can be included in that audience—who doesn’t worship the elusive vacation? A lot of those questions and answers can be difficult to find online, especially if you’re like me and get sidetracked by all the amazing travel blogs out there. How can you focus your keyword research into answering what these travelers are asking?
Call a travel agent, resort, or hotel. Ask your globetrotting friend how they planned their last escape. You can find what matters to the audience you want, and you can reflect those interests online.
Answering Their Questions
Now that you are targeting the right queries with the right keywords, you can start to answer them on the site. Create content that answers these questions, such as:
- Frequently Asked Questions page
- Online brochure
- Alumni Testimonials
For this example, an FAQ page would be my first source of online information—what are other people asking that I should be asking? What questions do I have that are already being answered? FAQ and Q&A pages allow the opportunity to exact-match these queries and provide valuable, informative answers.
Building out the resources that answer your audience’s questions and target their concerns (while targeting your keywords!) will boost a site’s reputation for being a go-to source of information.
I know this is the digital age, but useful keyword research can be found away from the computer too!