Getting ahead in a competitive market requires you to clearly distinguish yourself from the competition so that when your potential customers are making a choice, you are the company that grabs their attention and makes an impression. Focusing entirely on individual elements such as keywords and backlinks in your SEO strategy can take attention away from the fact that the function of your website is to serve your customers. The more you give your customers what they really need, the more they’ll come back to your site, spend time on it, talk about it and publicise it for you.
A great way to attract customers and gain traction in the market is to gather as complete and detailed an understanding of your customers as possible, so that you can provide the content, information, advice and support that attracts their attention and marks you out as a knowledgeable, approachable company that they can rely on. It is this reputation as the company that knows what it’s talking about that will lead to stable, long term growth in organic traffic and engagement with your site and your content. Combining in-depth customer insight and understanding with a great SEO strategy will give you a real competitive advantage.
Understanding your customers
If you work in a niche market, it’s likely that members of your target audience have distinctive characteristics – they may work in a particular industry, have a specific type of requirement, or have a certain level of expertise and knowledge. Gaining a real understanding of your customers and how your product or service fits into their life will allow you to uncover ways to draw them to your content, by speaking their language, by answering their burning questions or by providing them with information and support that your competitors don’t offer. Talk to your customers as much as possible, listen to the words they use and the problems they talk about. If you can give them useful advice or a service they didn’t even know they needed, you will immediately make an impression and be well on the way to being the company they trust and recommend.
Test your site
While individual pages and pieces of content on your site should provide targeted, well-defined information, your site as whole should lead users on a coherent journey, providing them with the information they need at every point on that journey. A simple way to identify whether there are any gaps in that journey – any missing information, any tasks that are difficult to complete – is to run cognitive walkthroughs with members of your target audience (ideally, a range of representative customers) who aren’t already familiar with your site. Set each person a task – to search for your company on a search engine, to find a particular piece of information or to complete a purchase for example – and ask them to talk through what they see and think as they go through the search results or the site. Watch as they move through the pages – are there points at which they get stuck or become confused? Are your meta descriptions accurate and easy to understand? Is there content they would like to see that isn’t there? This process gives you a golden opportunity to fix any issues you didn’t realise were there and to identify the areas in which you can make changes and improvements, such as adding clearer buttons or providing more content. Even relatively small changes, like adding links, can increase the
likelihood that potential customers will find your site, visit it and stay once they get there.
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