Who are your People? A Primer on User Personas

Who are your People? A Primer on User Personas

The virtue of ‘know your audience’ couldn’t be more important in digital marketing. But in today’s competitive market, ‘knowing’ simply isn’t enough. It’s essential to fully understand your audience which is only possible through the creation of user personas.

User personas are always fictional but represent the characteristics, buying habits and interests of real visitors to a website. With this in mind, each user persona can provide critical insight into a different segment of your target audience.

Choosing user personas

Before choosing your user personas, it can be beneficial to check whether these have already been developed for previous projects. A well-established website may have archived user personas which could save you the hassle of creating ones from scratch.

If you have to develop new ones, be sure to do some homework before getting started. Although, it can be tempting to make assumptions about your target audience, don’t make this mistake. Qualitative and quantitative research is the only sure-fire way of generating the most accurate user personas.

Developing an online survey administered to all your visitors is a good start as well as one-to-one interviews with users. Alternatively, you may be able to utilise existing data such as account history, user purchasing records and website login details. Once you have this information, you’re ready to create some profiles.

Creating the profiles

As a general rule of thumb, 2 – 5 user personas (profiles) per SEO campaign should suffice. Identifying one of these as a primary persona should prioritise the target segment which is most influential to the client’s website.

After deciding on the user personas, it’s time to create an in-depth profile for each one. Information can be varied dependant on the campaign but generally it should include all of the following: gender, age, education, location and job description.

Other important details would include their motivation and goals in terms of their website usage. What actions are they hoping to complete on your site and why do they enjoy using your site? Finally, it can useful to include their daily, technology usage as well as a photo and nickname. This may seem odd but it’s a great way to make the scenario more realistic.

Applying these profiles

You may be wondering how these profiles can be leveraged to improve SEO practices and ultimately increase rankings as well as visitor conversion rates. Taking this user centric approach can actually benefit in three fundamental areas: keyword research, user experience and link building strategies.

As you understand the mind of the user – what are their key requirements, likes and dislikes – you’ll be much better equipped for keyword research. Using the profile characteristics as a guideline, you could uncover new keyword ideas in the brainstorming stage that wouldn’t be possible through generic research tools.

A closer connection to the specific segments of your target audience should inevitably improve user-experience. Every decision can now be analysed with each user group in mind. As you make changes to navigation, you can ask yourself – does this meet the needs of our each persona, especially the primary persona?

Finally, content creation can be developed with a more directed focus. This can improve link building strategies, allowing you to approach only the most suitable communities to establish relationships with. Tailoring content will not only attract more visitors, it will also increase likelihood of likes and shares.

It may seem like a time-consuming process but harnessing the power of user personas promises impressive results. Include this method in your day-to-day SEO practices and be ready for improvements at every level.

Author Gyles Seward

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