Focus on Target Audience to Improve SEO Efforts

Written by Nick Stamoulis

If you want to perform well in the search engines then you need to stop focusing on pleasing the search engines. That doesn’t seem to make much sense does it? Let’s explain.

The search engines want to provide users with the best possible results. If the results aren’t relevant to a search, don’t meet a user’s needs, or are filled with low quality sites the user isn’t going to have a very good experience. The primary revenue source of the search engines comes from visitors clicking on paid listings in the Sponsored section. If search engine users aren’t getting good results, they will find alternate ways to find what they are looking for, and won’t be clicking on ads meaning that the search engines won’t be generating revenue. Like any other business, the search engines aim to please their customers, or users. For this reason, the search engines (more specifically- Google) are changing their algorithms to attempt to “think” more like a human. SEO is no longer about pleasing search engine robots, it’s about pleasing actual people.

Think about all of the shifts that have taken place in the SEO industry even just within the last few years. One of the first major changes was the Google Panda update. The targets of the Panda update were websites that produced what was considered to be low quality content. Website owners knew that in order to get recognized by the search engines they had to produce content across the web that included targeted keywords and links. In many cases, how an actual visitor viewed the content was an after thought. Content distribution was done mostly for link building purposes. Quantity was the focus over quality. The recent Google Penguin update was a reminder that Google is serious about cleaning up and cleaning out the spam that lives amid its search results. Penguin went after sites that were guilty of too much SEO, or “over optimization”. For a human visitor, there is no need to include 5 keyword anchor text links in a 500 word article or launch keyword rich domain micro sites. That kind of behavior is clearly meant for the search engines only, and the search engines have made their stance loud and clear- stop doing it already!

Another example of how the search engines are focusing more on the user experience to rank websites is the emphasis on social search. People want suggestions from other people. If certain content performs well in social media, it must be of good quality. The search engines no longer have to assume using backlink data what kind of content people want to see. The evidence is right there within the re-tweets, shares, likes, comments, etc.

The bottom line is to stop thinking so much about the search engine spiders. Think about your target audience members. What kind of content would they like to see? This doesn’t mean that SEO best practice is dead. It’s still important to conduct keyword research, optimize your website, and build inbound links but the focus has shifted. Write content that appeals to your target audience and build links from places that they might actually visit. Keep it natural and don’t over optimize anything. By focusing on your target audience you have the best chance of succeeding in the search engines and online in general for the long term.

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