Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley has one very important lesson to teach us about SEO: it pays to keep your site visible only to members of your target audience as much as possible. Yes, this approach can significantly reduce the number of visitors your site receives but, if done right, targeted search can vastly improve your site’s potential as a marketing and sales tool. Here’s why and how.
Diagon Alley, a shopping district only accessible to the wizarding world, is completely hidden from “Muggles” (non-magical people) — and for good reason too. The restaurants, shops, and other establishments that line the alley exclusively serve the wizarding community, so there’s little sense in making it open for all the world to see.
Your website isn’t really any different. It exists to serve your target audience and certainly not everyone on the World Wide Web. But how do you make sure it’s members of your target audience that actually find and visit your site?
This is where targeted SEO comes in. Targeted SEO optimizes your site to rank well for keywords and content relevant to your target niche rather than for generic queries. This lets people looking for your products/services find your site more easily and helps filter out everyone else. While this often results in a lower quantity of site visitors, it does lead to higher site traffic quality, which means better conversion rates, lead generation outcomes, or sales results from your website.
Use these quick tips on keyword research to help you get started with targeted SEO:
1. Refine audience profile with user personas.
A user (or buyer) persona represents an audience segment’s profile. User personas make it easier for you to identify which keywords to focus on for specific segments of your target audience. Each type of site visitor should be represented by its own user persona. When building user personas, make sure you include (at the very least) the following qualities:
- Values and motivations
- Pain points
- Sources of information (where they go to/what they consult)
- Common objections
2. Take the whole buying cycle into account.
It’s important that you understand and focus on keywords your target audience uses at different stages in the buying cycle. Each phase in the buying cycle represents a different level of informational need which translates to different keyword focus.
At earlier phases of the cycle (awareness), search queries tend to be centered on generic keywords while, at later stages (comparison/decision), keywords become more and more specific. Depending on your site’s objectives, you should identify and map keywords to one or more phases of your target customers’ purchase cycle.
3. Consider your site visitors’ intent as well.
Your SEO strategy is incomplete without taking user intent into account. User intent refers to the things that your target audience members want to achieve each time they do a Google search. These keyword clues help you detect and fulfill a need through providing relevant content or resource on your site.
To uncover user intent in keyword research, get past popular search terms and focus on search phrases that tell you specific things that users are looking for (such as a product or a solution to a problem). Next, compare your organic search traffic keywords with the queries your site users actually use on your site’s own search tool. This should let you determine whether or not your site is actually helping your target users find what they’re looking for.
4. Choose keywords based on conversions.
Don’t fall for the ranking trap. Focusing too much on keyword rankings can only take you so far. Sure, this approach is probably going to drive more visitors to your site, but having high traffic volumes is meaningless without being able to generate the right number of new subscribers, prospects, or sales that your site has been developed for. That’s why, when choosing which keywords to target, you also have to consider their ability to convert.
Your site’s Google Analytics dashboard can help you quickly find which keywords actually lead to conversions. Pull out data on the top keywords that drive traffic to your site and view their corresponding conversion rates. Look for keywords that generate decent conversion rates but score low traffic volumes. Focus more on optimizing those search terms.
It’s really much better for your website to operate like Diagon Alley. You only want folks in your niche to reach it and to keep out Muggles as much as possible. But you don’t need magic to make this happen; all you have to do is focus your SEO strategy on targeted search.