Award-winning founder of several seven-figure online businesses, Syed Balkhi, recently presented his strategies to increase blog/website traffic at Social Media Marketing World. Considering his sites generate more than 400 million page views per year, we’re thrilled to bring you the highlights of and insights inspired by his riveting presentation – including a number of great free resources – to help you build your website or blog traffic. This is the first in a three-part series about how critical identifying your target audience is to ramping up your traffic.
Any successful business plan or content strategy is driven by one primary factor: who is your target audience?
The answer is crucial to not just attract your ideal readers, but also to retain them by delivering content that they want, need, and most importantly, will click through to buy products that you recommend for them.
If your website traffic is dismal, then the first place you should start looking is at your audience – who are they? Where are they coming from, both from a demographic and a psychographic perspective? How old are they? What are their interests?
Once you are clear on who your real target audience is, you can create content that will speak to them clearly and consistently, so they keep coming back to your site for more.
As Balkhi smartly advises, “Don’t write for search engines: write for people.” (This is with the caveat that you write for people, but keep search engines in mind. We will cover how to do so in the second installment of this series when we talk about the kinds of content that works best for both people and search engines.)
To understand whom you are writing for, you first must develop an “avatar” or persona that represents your ideal reader. Give it a name, and sketch out his or her basic demographic profile, including:
● Marital status
● Geographic location
● Typical employment
● Annual income
● Any other key demographics
Next, take a deeper dive into what makes your avatar tick by identifying the factors that shape this ideal reader’s world view, including:
● Goals & values: What does your avatar care about? What’s his or her personal mission?
● Challenges & pain points: What are the issues and problems your avatar faces?
● Sources of information (i.e. books, magazines, websites, television shows, conferences, thought leaders they follow)
● Objections & role in the purchase process: As an affiliate marketer, think about what would make your ideal reader click (or not) on the links to products you recommend.
There are several effective ways to gather key information to build your avatar’s profile:
1) Take a deep dive into your site’s analytics.
Ideally you have Google Analytics installed on your site, which is the perfect place to start. Not only can you get basic demographic information from Google Analytics (gender, country of origin, etc.), but you can also get important information about what time of day people are on your site, what topics/posts are most popular, and so on.
If you have a WordPress website, MonsterInsights (one of Balkhi’s companies) is a simple, powerful, inexpensive plug-in that pulls your key Google Analytics insights into your site’s backend dashboard. It allows you to easily see your top posts and pages, illuminates your leading traffic sources, tracks outbound links, and much more.
Other platforms and content management systems have analytics built-in as well. Be sure to check out what user information your site provides for you.
2) Hone in on what your audience is searching for.
While looking at your analytics will tell you what topics are most popular on your site, it’s also important for you to look at the questions, problems and challenges for which your audience is seeking solutions. A great free resource is Google’s Search Console, which tells you which keywords people searched for that led them to a particular page/post on your site.
You can also do a simple Google search for keywords in your site’s topic area(s), and scroll down to the bottom of the page to “related searches.” Again, this can help broaden your understanding of your audience’s pain points so you can do a better job addressing those issues.
3) Examine your social channel analytics.
Facebook has “Insights,” and Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest all have analytics as well that can give you a deeper look at the kinds of topics and posts that capture and hold the attention of your target audience – and which ones don’t. Social Media Examiner, the host of Social Media Marketing World, recommends several social analytic tools that have free versions, including FanPage Karma (for Facebook) and Twitonomy (for Twitter), that can provide you with rich analytics and metrics.
4) Keep an eye on your competition.
The fight for your audience’s attention in the age of distraction is real; studying what works (and doesn’t) on your competitors’ sites as compared to your own is an important step in understanding your core target audience’s behavior. Keyword and social media analysis tools like SEMrush, as well as the aforementioned tools like FanPage Karma and Twitonomy, can provide you with valuable insights into your core target audience’s behavior and preferences based on how they interact with your competition.
5) Survey your readers.
While there’s a ton of information that can be culled from metrics and analytics, a survey is a straightforward way to gather demographic information about your audience. Surveymonkey and Polldaddy both have free versions. The only downside to surveys and polls is that normally just a small percentage of people will respond to an online questionnaire, so this strategy may be better suited to those with a large audience to survey.
Identifying your target audience and truly getting into a place of not just understanding, but also empathizing, with them is the critical first step in ensuring your blog or website is built to attract your ideal readers. Next week, we’ll discuss how to use this understanding to create content that will connect with and convert your audience.