Keyword-Driven Personas – Whiteboard Friday
Posted by RuthBurr
As inbound marketing is gaining traction, marketers in all inbound disciplines are realizing the importance of taking on keywords with a more holistic approach. It's time to start building your keywords into the bones of your site, rather than adding them once your site is already completely mapped out.
In today's Whiteboard Friday, Ruth Burr discusses how you can use your keywords to drive personas, and ultimately affect your site mapping process for the better. Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
For your viewing pleasure, here's a still image of the whiteboard used in this week's video!
Update: Ruth referred to some code that Mike King of iAquire put together that may help your site if integrated into your analtyics. Give it a look!
"Howdy, SEOmoz fans. My name's Ruth Burr. Welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. I'm the Lead SEO here at SEOmoz, and today I want to talk about using keywords to drive personas and ultimately your site mapping process.
One thing that we're really thinking a lot about as we move more and more toward an inbound marketing model, where there are multiple different people with multiple different functions all working together to have the best inbound marketing possible, is what we're doing with keywords and sort of when we're adding keywords into the site. I know that we've all had the experience in years past where we would get a site or get a piece of copy that was completely written and then just kind of have to plug our keywords into that existing content wherever they would fit. You might have an entire site that's already completely mapped out, it's got a sitemap, it's got information architecture, and then you're supposed to go in and put in your keywords. I've found that that is not always the best user experience for the keyword, and also isn't as effective as taking a more holistic approach.
So what I'm really hoping you guys will get out of this is take it back to your UX and your IA teams and really think about how you can build keywords more into the bones of the site.
One thing that Google is thinking a lot about that is really important for us to be thinking about as marketers as well is searcher intent. Search engines are spending tons of money and tons of time and tons of effort trying to figure out what people are searching for when they use a keyword. It behooves us as marketers to do the same thing because that way we can give people what they want when they tell us they want it, and that's the beauty of search engine marketing.
My example here is chocolate cookies, because I like to think about cookies. You might have somebody that's searching for the keyword "chocolate cookies," and maybe you own ChocolateCookies.com, a great domain. If that's the case, you don't really know what they want when they want chocolate cookies. They could be looking to buy chocolate cookies. They could want to learn how to make chocolate cookies. They could want recipes. You might also have ingredients. Maybe in addition to cookies you sell ingredients for cookies. Maybe you have recipe content and sales content, and you want to know how to serve up each of those pieces of content in a way that's really going to serve the user. What you can start doing is really thinking about the search intent of each one of these keywords and building that in to a traditional persona-based marketing model.
This is my example model. All of these examples are made up. The data is not real. You cannot use this data and take it out and just go build ChocolateCookies.com. You could, but results are not guaranteed. To reiterate, this data, made up.
In my ChocolateCookies.com example, we've got three different personas. We've mapped out who they are and what they want. Now we can actually assign keywords to them. Say you're trying to target people who want to make cookies. What they're looking for, they're looking for recipes, they're looking for ingredients. They are not looking to buy cookies. If somebody googles "chocolate cookie recipes" and they click through to your site and it's a page about how you can buy cookies from you, that is a bad user experience. Those people are not going to buy cookies, and they're also going to bounce right back to the search results.
That is the kind of thing that search engines are tracking. How quickly did somebody return to the search results page from your site? Did they do it without taking an action? If so, that can be a signal that you're not serving up quality content. It's bad from a ranking factor's perspective, and it's also bad because that person did not give you money and that's what we're trying to do, trying to sell cookie recipes.
So you really want to make sure that this person when they're searching for these keywords, which you've mapped back to their persona, you're serving up chocolate cookie recipes. And if they're looking for ingredients, you're serving up ingredients. Then you're creating an entire experience. You're not just paying lip service saying, "Oh, here's a recipe and then buy a bunch of stuff." You really are serving them up that high quality content that users love, that brings them back to the site again and again. If the recipe content is good enough, this baker might even share your content and share it with their friends, and maybe even link to it from their blog that's all about making cookies. Wouldn't that be nice?
Then you might also have somebody who does not want to make cookies because they don't have that kind of time. They want to buy cookies. They just want to buy them and then eat them. It's a model that I practiced for years. So they're going to be looking to buy cookies online. They're not going to care about recipes at all. They're not going to care about ingredients at all. They're going to be much more purchase-driven and be looking at keywords around their favorite brands and looking for sales. These are the people that you can really incentivize with calls to action and trust signals, like free shipping, delivery, sales, coupons, join our mailing list, and things like that. You've now mapped these back, so again you're creating this entire experience and all of this content based around the fact that this person does not care about recipes at all, they just want to buy.
Then our third persona is somebody who's buying at the corporate level. Maybe they're an office manager, or at SEOmoz, Team Happy is constantly buying us goodies and snacks, and we love that. But this person is in charge of the cookie supply at their office. What, does your office not have cookies? I'm so sorry. Get some cookies.
So this guy, he doesn't care about recipes at all. He's not going to make cookies every day for 100 people. He wants to buy them, and he's not spending his own money. He's spending the company's money. So he's looking for things like a corporate discount, a bulk discount, Maybe he's catering a party. He needs same-day delivery. These are the things that are really going to be important to this person. Since you know that, you can create content that is solely targeted toward this one person, this one buyer. Especially if you have things like a corporate discount, this is the place to really show it off.
So you've got these three different personas, and they're taking three very different paths through the site and they're consuming the site in different ways, whether it's buying a bunch of stuff, buying one thing, consuming your content and buying ingredients, coming back. Each of these personas is experiencing your content in very different ways. Rather than just creating one site and popping in keywords all willy-nilly so that all of these people are having the same experience, you can start crafting unique user experiences for each of these people based on their paths through the site.
Great, except that that takes a lot of time and money. Both in the fact that at most businesses time in some ways is money, and you may actually have to spend some money on it. One of the things that I actually really recommend doing during this part of the process is running some PPC campaigns around the keywords where you're trying to define user intent. If somebody's just searching on chocolate cookies, you might not know if they want to buy them, or if they want to make them or what they want to do. So use PPC, run a little test, and see whether people respond better if you've got recipes, or free shipping, or what the different calls to action are for those more generic terms. Over time you can start to see what the majority of users' intent is and what they really respond to and craft experiences for those more generic terms based around that. That's a really great way to use PPC as a little guinea pig test.
Now here comes my favorite part because it involves metrics. What you can do is go into your Google Analytics or whatever, use your analytics tools and start looking at these behaviors based on keywords. Once you've got your persona and you've got your keywords assigned to your persona, first of all make sure that all of these keywords really are the same persona. Make sure that users who enter on those keywords are taking similar paths through the site and executing similar actions. That's a great secondary indicator that all of these keywords do belong to this same persona.
Start looking at what they do. Maybe you get the most traffic from the baker, but you get the most revenue per order from the corporate guy. Maybe the shopper doesn't return as much, but she does convert at 2.4%. The baker spends the longest time on site, but maybe she doesn't buy as much. These are the things that you can start to look at and say, "Okay, so we know that the baker spends a lot of time on site, that's great. What can we do to encourage her to turn that into a purchase? How can we brand message to her in ways that make her feel more comfortable buying ingredients, or what can we do to incentivize her sharing this content which clearly she's consuming or loving?"
The same thing with the corporate guy. If he's got the highest revenue per order, obviously we want more of this guy. We want to figure out what does he want, what is he doing, and what are the triggers that we can use that get him to buy more or get him to return to the site more. You can start really testing, and that's great because it allows you, even just before you've done any of that amazing tweaking and testing, to say, "Okay where is the biggest mover of the needle among these two personas? What are the activities that we could be doing that could encourage them to do more of the activities they want to do fastest?" Then that'll help you prioritize and it'll help you target your efforts and your budget.
Then if you want to go above and beyond and really get in there and be a little bit creepy, what you can do is actually link up your site to Facebook Open Graph so that people are opting in to a Facebook app when they're registering on your site. They're connecting with Facebook. So there is that opt-in. You don't just want to take people's information. Once you've done that, you can actually, in your Google Analytics code, link it up to your Facebook Open Graph data, and you can start getting real demographic data on the actual people who are using these keywords and coming to your site. Now in addition to knowing that the baker is 40% of searches, you know that she's 35 to 40, you know she's female, and you know she's a mom. The corporate guy you know that he works at a company of more than 100 people most of the time. So you can really start targeting these people based on their demographic information.
What you also learn then is who these people are that like you so much. They're coming to your site over and over. They're buying things from you, which is really what we're trying to do here. And you can start targeting more of those people in your own SEO efforts, in your own customer acquisition efforts. You're targeting them on social. You're reaching out to them for links. You're buying ads to put in front of them, and you have more confidence that you'll have a return on those ads because you already know these are the kind of people who like you.
So you have all of this information about keywords and about personas. Now you can take that back to your user experience team, to your information architects and say, "Hey, let's redo the sitemap and have it be based on these personas, based on these proven user behaviors that start with a keyword and end with a purchase, and let's build experiences for those keywords." Now instead of just saying, "Well, here's what I think. We've got like About Us, Contact Us, Products." You can really say, "These are three main personas, so in the header we should probably have cookie recipes, shop cookies, corporate discount," and know that even from page one on the site whenever one of your target people comes to the site, it's really easy for them to find the experience they're looking for, make their way through the site, and then buy something.
Mike King of iAquire, who blogs at ipullrank.com, put together some code using Stack Overflow, which may or may not work on your site. Take it to your devs and see if they can make it work with your analytics. Every site is different. Your mileage may vary, but there is a link to it here at the bottom of the screen. There should be. It's invisible to me, but you can see it.
Now that you have this data, go to your UX people and show them the power of keyword-driven site mapping. Show them how SEO has so much to do with what they do, and not only will this project work for you, but in the future they'll be more likely to come back to you and say, "Hey, we're going to change the whole site, and we thought you should know before we do it." That's what you want.
That's it for Whiteboard Friday this week. Thanks for coming by you guys. See you next time."
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