4 Ways Buyer Personas Can Improve Your Keyword Strategy
Guest blog by Molly Clarke, Senior Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo.
As the Google search algorithm grows more adept at identifying high-quality content, the lines between content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) become more and more blurry.
Until recently, these two specialties weren’t always integrated. But, in our era of content overload, marketing and SEO professionals must work together to achieve visibility within Google search results and outrank their competitors.
If you’re not sure how to approach this type of integrated digital marketing strategy, you’re in luck. Today’s blog post explains how to use buyer personas—a staple in the marketing world—to improve your keyword strategy. Let’s get started.
What are buyer personas?
If you’re not familiar with the concept of buyer personas, we’ll give you a quick overview. If you’re well-versed in the world of buyer personas, feel free to skip ahead.
In its simplest form, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional profile representing a segment of your best buyers or most valuable customers. Marketers use data, qualitative analysis, and anecdotal evidence to create buyer personas. A well-constructed buyer person can inform every aspect of your marketing strategy, from value proposition to channel selection—and yes, keyword research.
We won’t spend a significant amount of time on buyer persona creation, but if you’re interested in learning more, check out the following article: The Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas.
But now, let’s take a look at the various ways buyer personas can fine-tune and improve your keyword strategy!
- Use of language.
Every one of your customers and prospects has a unique way of speaking—this is common knowledge. But, there are a number of factors that can influence a person’s word choice, colloquialisms, and sentence structure. These factors range from geographic location to age to gender.
Here’s an example: According to a recent study, Americans on the east and west coasts refer to popular carbonated beverages as soda. But, in the north it’s referred to as pop. And, in the south it’s generalized as coke.
In a business setting, these tiny changes in phrasing and word choice can have a dramatic impact on your web presence. Think about it, if you’re targeting a keyword related to your main offer, but half the country refers to the same product using a different set of words—you will never reach your total addressable market.
Here’s where buyer personas come into play. When conducting buyer persona research, be sure you understand how your prospects and customers refer to your products. Leave your own opinions at the door—after all, this process isn’t about how you want to position yourself; it’s about showing up where potential customers are searching for you.
Does one industry refer to a product differently than others? Do you see certain job titles searching for your products using a particular phrase? Be sure to take note of any significant inconsistencies or language differences within your buyer personas.
- Pain points.
In the business world, many professionals take to Google—or another search engine—when they’re struggling with something. For this reason, your company must appear on the first page of search results whenever a prospect searches for a pain point your company can solve.
Here’s an example: A sales manager has seen an increase in complaints made by sales reps about the quality of their prospecting data. And, after digging around, he can see that inaccurate phone numbers and email addresses have led to a decline in productivity and revenue. He turns to Google first and makes a few related searches:
- How to improve prospecting data
- Ways to improve prospecting data
- How to clean up prospecting data
- Companies that append contact information
Imagine you work for a B2B data provider—you’d want to show up first for these searches.
For this reason, when constructing your buyer personas, be sure to take stock of each persona’s various pain points. Really put yourself in their shoes and think of all the different search queries you’d make if you were trying to solve their specific problem.
- Content preferences.
A big part of keyword research is figuring out how you’re going to work target keywords into your overall marketing strategy. As we all know by now, it’s no longer effective to sprinkle keywords throughout your website and hope to appear in popular searches. Google has evolved and so must your SEO tactics.
When creating your buyer personas, consider each persona’s content preferences. Is there a certain type of prospect who prefers written content like blog posts or eBooks? And what channels are they most likely to use in order to access this content? Social media? Email? Organically within Google search results?
These are the types of questions that will lead to effective buyer personas and, as a result, will lead to more accurate integration of your SEO and content strategies.
- Keyword mapping.
If you follow popular sales and marketing blogs, you’ve likely seen talk about content mapping—or the process of mapping your content marketing efforts to your sales funnel. Content mapping effectively nurtures leads and prospects through the sales funnel using high-quality content. But, to be truly effective, this process should also involve keyword mapping.
Consider your buyer personas and your target keywords. What kind of buying intent is behind these queries? Here’s an example using the keywords associated with the phrase, “account-based marketing.”
- Account-based marketing: This search term has minimal buying intent. Someone searching for this term could be a student conducting research or the CEO of a company trying to understand the latest marketing trends. As a result, this term should be mapped to top-of-the-funnel content.
- How to execute account-based marketing: This search term has slightly more buying intent. This person is more interested in implementing an account-based marketing strategy, but hasn’t yet signaled that they’re willing to spend money on these efforts. For this reason, this search query should be mapped to middle of the funnel content.
- Best account-based marketing tools: Of the three phrases used in this example, this last search query has the most buying intent. They understand what account-based marketing is, they’re ready to get started, and they’re looking for a tool to help them. For this reason, you should map this term to bottom of the funnel content.
When you tie your content and keyword strategies together like this, you’re guaranteeing that the right content shows up within Google search results for the right people at the right time.
Think about it, if you map the term account-based marketing to a product page, you might generate some leads or inquiries—but in general, most people will leave your page pretty quickly. But, if you map best account-based marketing tools to that same product page, people will stay longer and will likely express more interest in your products. It’s all about providing a website experience that matches the searcher’s expectations and intent.
That’s why we recommend using your buyer personas to inform this process. Ask yourself, when a specific persona makes a search for your targeted keyword, does appropriate content appear?
As traditional marketing methods and SEO become more intertwined, marketers must become well-versed in SEO best practices. That’s not to say every marketer must be an expert—but it’s vital that you understand the role you play in the grand scheme of your company’s SEO strategy.
When you use buyer personas to inform your keyword strategy, your content, your marketing campaigns, your landing pages, and your other marketing materials become more personalized, relevant, and effective. So, if you’re ready to send more targeted marketing campaigns, use some of the tips and best practices discussed above.
About the Author: Molly Clarke is a Senior Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo, where she writes for the company’s B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading company directory database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. In her free time, Clarke likes to write about topics related to marketing and business.