This five-part series details some of the history behind using demographics as part of a digital marketing strategy. In addition, we’ll talk about how you should approach online engagement, and which tools we find most useful for managing our campaigns.
Last week, we wrote about the how and why of retargeting. In this post we will examine best practices in search engine optimization (SEO) and give some tips on how to use it to reach out.
Search engines are the number one way people visit sites on the web. In 2012, a survey by Forrester found that 54% of users find most websites through organic search results, and an additional 18% through paid search. Search engine optimization may not be the first thing you think of when the word “demographics” is brought up, but SEO depends entirely on understanding and appealing to your audience.
In the mid-2000s, managing website rankings was fairly unsophisticated. Many early attempts at improving SEO rankings are what we now consider spam: forced backlinks, keyword stuffing, excessive tagging and so on.
Today, SEO practices involve a lot of careful and creative targeting. Ideally, marketers want to rank high on a popular keyword. However, depending on the segment, the most popular keyword may be too competitive for them to gain an advantage. Thus, they may choose to seek out other keywords that the demographic may be searching, in the hopes that competitors haven’t already done so.
If you’re running an SEO campaign for the first time, you may be tempted to try to spin your product or service into sounding more appealing than it is. Don’t. The best thing you can do is to be clear and upfront about your product(s) and service(s). Google’s algorithms favor this kind of straightforward behavior.
What SEO should boil down to is a clear attempt at reaching a target audience. Avoid “black hat” SEO tactics like keyword stuffing, hidden text and forced backlinks. Not only are you wasting time trying to appeal to too wide a group, but you’re also making yourself appear less legitimate to consumers who may have otherwise been interested.
So, what SEO practices should you follow?
1. Research Your Audience
Take the time to look at places like LinkedIn Groups or go to industry events and take note of the questions that people in your target demographic are asking. Look to see where your product or service could be applicable.
Then use a keyword tool to see which search results are seeing a lot of traffic. We recommend SEM Rush (paid) Google Keyword Planner (paid) and Ubersuggest (free). Examine the results for the suggested keywords; see if the questions you wrote down are being answered. The ideal keywords will be ones that are searched often, but which don’t have many relevant, quality results.
2. Build Your Content
Write copy for your site that addresses these questions and key topics. Make it as genuine and helpful as possible. Use your keywords liberally, naturally. Strike a balance between writing so robots can find you, but humans can understand you.
3. Optimize Your Content
Make sure any images included in your post are web ready, and that you’ve sorted out your metadata. There are many ways to optimize your content. We recommend using the Yoast WordPress plugin (if WordPress is your primary CMS) or Moz.
4. Stay Informed on SEO News
We recommend regularly watching Moz’s blog, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch to keep up to date on SEO best practices and standards. Google is constantly working to refine their standards for web results, so it’s best to stay on your toes.
Next week: What Ever Happened to Chatrooms?