Understanding User Intent with Buyer Personas & Search Behavior

By October 25, 2017SEO Tips

User intent is the crux of driving a successful SEO campaign. To attract customers and create meaningful relationships, we must first understand why they seek our products and services out. Two great ways to uncover previously hidden insights about potential, current, and past customers are buyer personas and search queries. This blog post will cover what they are, strategy tips, and how they tie into a SEO campaign.

Buyer personas are sometimes overlooked when it comes to SEO, but we know that every product has a target market and when you have a better idea of who that target market is you can craft a better strategy to reach them. So, what is a buyer persona? HubSpot defines it as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Getting Started with Buyer Personas

To get started with buyer personas, you’ll want to collect important information from public or private databases, website analytics, past research performed by your company, surveys, group or individual interviews, and form fills on your website. The more information the better.

Interviews are an exceptional source of information as you can reveal important insights straight from the horse’s mouth. There’s a level of granularity that you cannot obtain from other sources that interviews can provide. Ask your participants questions such as:

  • Describe your family life.
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you enjoy most at work?
  • What goals do you have?
  • What obstacles are in the way of your goals?
  • What problem of yours does our product/service solve?

Just make sure that the information you pull is authentic as possible. Additionally, you can pull quotes to help better describe your target customer.

Use a variety of these sources to find rich information such as demographics, industry facts, pain points, goals, motivations, obstacles, frequently used social platforms, and even shopping preferences. Then segment the data and find meaningful patterns or similarities.

Once you’ve found patterns, you can create buyer persona profiles. Have fun with this step. You’ve put in a lot of hard work afterall. Craft the ideal customer and the unideal one too. Use a template if you want to. Now, you can use these newly crafted buyer personas to help guide your keyword research and link building.

Curating keywords with buyer personas in mind helps prevent you from spending excess time and resources on keywords that provide little in return. When performing research, think about your buyer personas’ intentions and pain points. What problem are they trying to address? When someone performs a search, they’re essentially asking a question.

For example, Tony Technology might look up the specs of the latest IPhone 8 using terms such as ‘IPhone 8 Expert Review’ and ‘IPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy 7’. The question he’s asking is, “I care about technology and what is the best phone for my needs?”

While Social Sam, on the other hand, might be more concerned about sharing images with his social network so he’d look up, ‘IPhone 8 Camera” and “IPhone 8 Camera Review’. The question he’s asking is, “I enjoy sharing pictures of my life and need a good camera. Is the IPhone 8’s camera good enough for me to buy a new phone?”

Additionally, you can apply the same principles to link building. When you identify blogs to guest post on, think about the type of material your customer would like to read. Tony Technology might want to frequent technology blogs while Social Sam may prefer to read blog posts on the latest photo editing applications.

Using Search Behavior for SEO

Next, understanding search behavior is great for whether you’re performing keyword research or want to understand why conversions are low. They help you understand the motivation behind the search, the position of the searcher within the conversion funnel and the pain points that they may be trying to address. First of all, there are three different types of queries: navigational, informational, and transactional.

Navigational queries are searches performed with the intent to go to a particular website. Searchers may type the domain name into the search bar rather than clicking on a bookmark. In this situation, the search engine serves as a directory. While these types of searches are very valuable for the website being searched, other brands may find their click-through rates to be low. However, this situation does bring a small opportunity to pull searchers away from their intended destination.

Informational queries are done with the intent to gain information. Searching for the name of an actor in the horror movie ‘It’ or the cause of your recent rash all fall under the informational category. These searches tend to be at the top of the conversion funnel and the average searcher will typically not be ready to buy anything just yet. However, since informational queries tend to be more broad they usually have a higher search volume. You can use this opportunity to dazzle visitors and increase your exposure. Create great content and provide a seamless, positive user experience to become a part of their evoked set.

Transactional queries are performed by a user that is looking to make a purchase. Whether they sign up for a free Amazon Prime trial or search for ‘SF Cheese Shop’, they are considered to be at the bottom of the conversion funnel and are likely to make a purchase in the near future. To see the most dramatic growth in conversions during the short-term, target transactional queries within your keyword research. Make sure to create relevant content for the appropriate long-tail keywords to convert customers. Additionally, once a customer is on your website, ensure that you have provided all of the appropriate information necessary for a user to make a purchase decision. Studies have shown that 50% of users purchase on the same day as their first click. This is why it’s so crucial to have your website optimized for these high click-through rate transactional queries.

Identifying user intent is a crucial part of establishing your website’s online presence. Keyword-stuffing and spammy Web 2.0 backlinks are now a thing of the past. By taking the time to invest in buyer persona research and understanding the different types of search behavior, you’ll be able to enhance the relevancy of your website. This means that you are increasing your ability to display to your potential customers the value your products and services have.

Michael Transon

Author Michael Transon

Michael Transon is the Founder and CEO of Victorious. He's a big fan of ASU football, his cat Tux, and dinner parties. He lives at Ocean Beach in the Outer Sunset Neighborhood.

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