Have you ever been solicited by an SEO firm? Hold on. Let me rephrase that. When was the last time you were solicited by an SEO firm? As a business owner or marketing director, you’ve been solicited by dozens – if not hundreds - of SEO firms over the years. Each trying to schlep their services. When it comes to SEO, the types of companies you’ll encounter run the gamut from black hat scams to strategic partners who can bring genuine, measurable results for your business.
Obviously, you’ll want to weed out the black hat scammers and only consider the ones you feel can be a strategic results partner. Once you’ve done that, where do you start?
Everything should start with a buyer persona. That living document should be home base for all of your marketing efforts - both online and offline, traditional or digital. Or, as Shama Hyder coined, digical. The marriage of traditional and digital marketing.
Why is this so Important?
Actually, it’s not important.
If you don't put your buyer persona first, then you're essentially throwing darts blindfolded at a target a mile away. That's no way to execute an SEO strategy.
If you’d rather have it work for you, then start with your buyer persona. Having your buyer persona defined, along with their buyer’s journey, will guide your SEO efforts from start to finish. Plus, it’ll give you something to reference when you’re looking for new keywords to target.
Here’s an Example
One of our clients, Bernick’s, has several buyer personas. One for each of their main product segments:
Convenience Store Owner
As you can see, their target market are folks who sell or supply products. Not the general populace who consumes those products.
Let’s drill down even further into potential topics they could rank for. Here are two sets of possibilities:
craft beer styles
where to buy pepsi products
mountain dew kickstart
diet soda vs regular soda
how many carbs are in beer
low calorie beverages
brew your own beer
craft beer distributors
how to clean a soda fountain
vending machine repair
coffee vending machine
benefits of a micromarket
Which set do you think Bernick’s should rank for? Both contain terms relevant to their business. But, when you look through the lens or their buyer personas, the answer becomes clear: Set 2.
The first set targets consumers looking for information about beer and soda, whereas the second set specifically targets Bernick’s buyer personas.
Traffic from Set 1 wouldn’t be valuable because Bernick’s doesn’t sell directly to the consumer. The consumer is not their target market. Traffic from Set 2, on the other hand, is a gold mine for Bernick’s because the people searching for those terms are the exact incarnation of the buyer persona.
The topics in Set 1 have much higher search volumes, so it would be tempting to target those instead. After all, more search volume means more traffic, right? That may be true, but more traffic does not always mean the right traffic. The right traffic can only be found in the second set of terms.
Sure, there may be qualified prospect here and there by going after the first set of terms, but that's like finding a needle in a haystack.
Buyer Personas and SEO Go Hand in Hand
SEO can be confusing – especially for the uneducated. This is why unscrupulous companies prey on business owners. They use the lack of understanding and fear-based selling to get you to sign something you don’t truly understand, all under the guise of “results.” Don’t fall for it.
Before you can do any SEO, you have to know who you’re targeting, which will then determine what you’re targeting. From there, you can further refine your keyword targets with a little bit of keyword research. Use the information from above to educate yourself. After all, knowledge is power. The more you know, the more power you’ll have when trying to find the perfect SEO firm. Otherwise, you’ll just be blindly throwing darts at the wall and be left wondering why your SEO efforts are not working.
Of course, SEO is just a small piece of the pie, and should be considered in tandem with the rest of your inbound marketing efforts. It shouldn’t live on an island separated from the rest of your efforts. That’s why I recommend finding a company with experience in every aspect of content marketing - including SEO.
I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.