Before you start tweaking content, running promotions or advertising your website, it's extremely important to identify who your target audience is. This sounds fairly simple, but in order to get the best out of your visitors, there's a few things to consider that aren't so obvious.
In our last SEO Tip, we started looking into some of the basic website analytics data, and in our next website analytics post we'll be talking about the 'Audience' section of Google Analytics, so now's a great time to get familiar with which visitors you really want on your site, so by the time we get stuck into audience data, you'll have a much better idea of where you can make improvements.
What's a 'Target Audience'?
Simply put, a target audience is the segment of people using the internet you would like to attract to your site. For some sites, like Facebook for example, target audience is huge - ranging across all age groups, interests, genders and locations to attract billions of active users. However, for most small/medium sized websites, a target audience is likely to be much more specific. Below are some examples of potential target audiences for fictional websites, so you can get an idea:
- A forum for talking about cartoons: On a website like this, you would expect the target audience to be mostly young - children and teenagers, with a mix of genders, from a wide range of locations, who have an interest in Television.
- A website for a high-end sports car manufacturer: Here we'd expect the target audience to be predominantly male, an age range of between 30-60, from a wide range of locations and interests in motor racing, cars, business etc.
- A website for a local restaurant: A website like this would mainly be targeting locals/tourists, with strong emphasis on local promotions, with a target age of late teenagers upwards.
- An online hand-made jewellery store: This kind of website would most likely have a target audience that was predominantly female in gender, with an age range slightly above average, from a fairly wide range of locations.
Identifying Your Target Audience
Firstly, there's a few questions to ask yourself to get a better idea of your website and who you want on it:
- What type of site do you manage? Local, global, business to business, business to consumer, forum, blog etc.
- Can you make any assumptions about the type of people visiting your site? Could you make an educated guess at who your website/content might appeal to?
- What do you want visitors to get from coming to your site? Do you want them to buy a product they'll love, engage with content or share your blog posts?
The first question should give you a starting point - once you've had a hard think about what your website really is and what content you put on it, you can start to draw assumptions from this and begin to narrow down the search for which visitors are really important. If you're a local business, geographic location will play a large part in determining this - ideally you'd want people from near where you're located to visit your site, but for a global website, pinpointing the best visitors can be a little trickier.
This is where the second question comes in. It's time to start using any data you do have (like customer surveys or feedback) along with who you think your website is for to start forming some assumptions about who your site will appeal to, and who you want to visit your site - what gender do you think they are? Are they working-class, middle-class or wealthy? What do you think they're interested in? Where do you think they're from?
The third question relates more to how people spend their time on your site, and whether they're getting what you want them to out of visiting. If you're selling products or services - are your visitors buying them? If not, you might be hitting the wrong audience. The same goes for content, are people reading, sharing or commenting on your content or just clicking away? These sorts of problems can also be solved by evaluating who you want to visit, and then encouraging or enticing that target market to visit.
Once you have an idea of what your aims are for your site, and who you want it to appeal to, it's time to collect some data to see if your assumptions are correct and if you're hitting your target market. In our next SEO Tip, we'll cover the 'audience' section of Google Analytics to see who's actually visiting your site - from their location to what their interests are, so that if you aren't hitting your target market, you can start to make changes to encourage the people you really want to visit.
SEO Tip #4: Analytics - Audience Data coming soon...
Go back to SEO Tip #2: Analytics - The Basics