Aug 06

What are Buyer Personas in SEO? A Guide For Businesses

Buyer personas are a crucial element of effective search engine optimisation (SEO) marketing, but they are often overlooked or under-used. Some people believe that developing a buyer persona is a waste of time. While a company can technically choose words for SEO without first developing personas, these chosen words will be based on assumptions about the target audience, instead of researched and evaluated data. In contrast, buyer personas can help focus targeted marketing and ensure keywords are effective and attract the desired audience.

The following is a look at what a buyer persona is, how to properly construct one, and how to use these personas to drive SEO marketing effectively.

What is a Buyer Persona?

In short, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of the target customer or customers. Developing more than one persona is common. In fact, most companies will produce 2 – 3 to adequately encompass the main characteristics found in their customers. A persona is developed by gathering information about customers such as demographic factors, buying habits, motivations, etc. The information is then compiled, and the most common and complimentary trends are chosen to build the buyer persona. Each persona is often given a nickname which makes it easier for the marketing team when they are discussing this ideal customer. It is also common to write up a summary of the persona along with a brief backstory. Doing this will help the persona feel more realistic and helps the fictional person feel like a real customer. A summarised bio and backstory will also help identify what the target customer looks like and how to best market to him or her. While the persona may be fictional, the actual paying customers are real people, so it helps to make the persona feel as realistic as possible.

For example:

The hypothetical company HydroGo sells water bottles and high-performance sports bottles both online and in specific retail stores.

They conducted their research and developed two personas that reflect the two different kinds of customers that buy their products the most and are the most likely to buy their products. These personas are Sporty Seth and May the Mom.

Sporty Seth

Seth represents the more athletic and adventurous demographic. He is single, in his mid 30’s, and works as an athletic trainer and has a YouTube fitness channel. In his free time, Seth does CrossFit, hikes, and does cross-country biking. He also runs a blog detailing his adventures and fitness routine. He is active, on-the-go, and cares about appearances, both of himself and the equipment he uses since he has a strong social media presence.

Seth wants a water bottle that will look sleek and athletic while still being durable enough that he can drop it in a backpack, jostle it around on a hike for 8 hours, and not worry about leaks by the time he gets home. Seth doesn’t care about price as much as appearance, though his budget isn’t exorbitant. He wants the best quality for the best price.

Athlete Exercise

May the Mom

May the Mom, on the other hand, is a mother in her late 20’s, married with two boys: a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. May works part-time at a plant nursery and enjoys spending time on Instagram and Pinterest. She spends much of her free time running errands, maintaining the house, and taking her boys to various activities.

When it comes to water bottles, May needs something she can carry with her at work or while running errands and easily drink from one-handed. She also needs anything she buys to be dishwasher-safe and BPA and toxin free. She wants the bottle to be distinct enough that it stands out at work, but she is primarily concerned with price.

Mum and child

How is a Buyer Persona Built?

Now that we have defined a buyer persona, let’s take a look at the process of building one, what kind of information needs to be gathered, how to best go about obtaining this information, and how to organise and utilise this information once it is collected.

Research

The first step in building a buyer persona is to conduct the research. A few factors that will need to be explored in existing and potential customers include:

  • Needs and Wants
  • Values
  • Interests
  • Life Style
  • Hobbies
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Income Levels
  • Buying Habits
  • Level of Comfort With Technology

These are just a few of the essential elements that will help develop a useful and accurate buyer persona. It’s important to understand not only how people interact with a particular brand or product, but also what factors drive and influence their shopping experience in general from the time of determining they need a product to the final purchasing decision.

Buying habits, in particular, are crucial as they help determine the best way to connect with the customers. Some people prefer direct marketing methods where adds, coupons, and specials are advertised directly to them through emails and mail blasts. Others get easily annoyed by unwanted messages cluttering their inbox and will throw anything that is not personal mail directly in the trash. If this happens, these people may determine they don’t like or won’t buy from a specific company simply due to frustration with the advertising methods.

How to Gather Information

Several methods will work well when it comes to obtaining this information.

Existing Records:

The first method is to comb over existing records of current customers. Much of this information may be held by the company already even if it is not effectively categorised or utilised at the moment. There are several online programs and templates such as HubSpot and Content Marketing Institute that can be downloaded and employed to help organise information into specific categories. These programs can also help reveal how much information a company may already have about its existing customers based on buyer trends and website activity. Google Analytics is also an excellent method to discover and organise helpful information about website activity. Once a website is linked to Google Analytics, information such as time spent on the website, how visitors found the website, and what keyword searches lead to that particular site will become available. Information on keyword searches will be especially useful when it comes time to utilise these buyer personas to increase the effectiveness of SEO marketing.

Surveys:

A tried-and-true method when it comes to conducting research and gathering information is to conduct surveys. Designing a survey will allow a company to collect specific pieces of missing information needed for the buyer personas. Surveys should be short, concise, and easy to answer. People will often give up on a questionnaire if they feel it is taking too long or the questions are too complicated. It is essential to choose the wording in a survey carefully to get the precise answers needed without making this research method seem too daunting or inaccessible.

Surveys can be emailed to your current client base as well as embedded on a website to gather information from existing and potential customers. It is occasionally necessary or at least beneficial to offer an incentive for people to take the survey. This incentive often happens in the form of a virtual raffle. Completing the survey and providing a valid email address will enter the participant in a drawing for a prize. The information gathered is almost always far more valuable than whatever generous incentive needs to be offered to encourage participation.

There are also online programs and companies such as Survey Monkey that will provide a platform to conduct the survey, allow for customised designing of the questions, and will even help analyse and categorise the results afterwards.

Reviews and Social Media:

Reading customer reviews can provide valuable insight into both positive and negative customer opinions. This information can help shape buyer personas and identify potential issues that may need to be addressed with products, websites, and customer service. Social media can also be a valuable tool, both for marketing and to see what people think about particular companies or products, issues they may have with similar products from other companies, and what they are looking for when it comes to a specific product.

For example:

HydroGo may read exercise equipment blogs and forums to see what active athletes are looking for when it comes to water bottles, including specific qualities they would like or issues they may have with other brands.

Lululemon bottle reviewLululemon

Organising the Data and Building the Persona

Once this data is obtained it should be organised to determine the most significant area of overlap and most common similarities, which should then be grouped into like-minded personas. There are several programs and templates, including the ones mentioned previously, that can help with this. A certain amount of work, unfortunately, can’t be done by a computer and will need to be completed by a person scanning over the results and identifying common attributes that fit together. Several characteristics should be included in each persona that is built.

For example:

In the HydroGo personas, Sporty Seth is the result of discovering that many men in their 30’s who had athletic-based jobs and extremely active hobbies were also single, active on social media, and made buying decisions by considering durability and style first, then looking for the best prices second.

In analysing the data, the second set of similar factors in customers and potential customers emerged. These factors revealed that many women, mostly moms, in their late 20’s had active jobs where they were on their feet or moving around a lot during the day. They also often had more than one kid and hectic lifestyles, and their buying decisions were heavily influenced by affordability, easy-to-clean designs, and a concern about potential toxins in a product’s material. This intersecting information resulted in the persona of May the Mom.

How to Use Buyer Personas in SEO Marketing

Now that the personas are constructed they should be used to inform the selection of keywords to drive SEO. This process is done primarily in 3 ways:

Selection of Seed Terms

Choosing the right seed terms is the first step in the keyword selection process. Seed terms should reflect words or phrases that will address concerns the personas may have. So for May the Mom, some applicable seed terms would include “water bottles that can be used single-handed” and “potential toxins in water bottles”. For Sporty Seth, some good seeds terms would be “water bottle durability”, “best kind of water bottle for hiking” or “stylish and functional water bottles”. The best approach is to think about search phrases the personas would use.

Key Word Selection

When it comes time to choose the specific keywords that will drive SEO it is important that they reflect the concerns shown in the seed terms. Given the previously mentioned seed terms, a few quality keywords would be “dishwasher-safe” “BPA-free” “durable” “functional water bottle” “sleek and stylish”, etc. Identifying the concerns and buying habits of potential and existing customers will allow a company to choose keywords that not only reflect their products or services to the greatest extent but will also grab the attention of clients. Well-tailored keywords based on buyer personas will also help effectively reroute traffic from search terms to a companies’ website.

Implementation

Buyer personas can also help in the implementation stage after the keywords have been selected. When it comes to adding the keywords to the website or promotional material, the concerns identified in the personas, as well as the different personality types, can help shape the tone of the overall web page or marketing approach. Making the tone and design something that will appeal to customers will also help direct traffic and will increase the chances of keeping people’s attention and increasing time spent on the website once SEO marketing directs them there.

Buyer personas example

buyer personas example

Indie Game Girl

Summary

The careful selection of keywords drives search engine optimisation. If the proper research is not conducted before choosing these keywords, it is almost impossible to make the most effective choices. Researching current and potential customers will allow a company to learn more about the concerns and buying habits that drive people to or away from their products or services. This can be done by examining existing customer data, conducting surveys, and reviewing social media.

Organising this information into various buyer personas allows a company to understand better the common traits found in their customers and target markets. In turn, this allows for a better understanding of buyer concerns and shopping habits. Knowledge of these things will enable a company to address these concerns when choosing their keywords for SEO marketing and when devising the overall tone and design of websites and marketing campaigns. The usefulness of buyer personas in SEO is invaluable and should not be overlooked.

About The Author

Ajay Chavda is the co-founder of Weboptimizers and has been involved with SEO for over 12 years. Between the digital properties and security forums he has managed, his articles have been read by approximately 50 million unique visitors.

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