Just as you got used to the terms SEO and SEM, something “new” comes along. Well in reality this is not new, but it’s finally getting more discussion. That’s online audience optimization (OAO). SEO is about optimizing your pages for search engines. OAO is about going beyond getting traffic. Traffic is great, but not if it isn’t your ideal, converting audience. Traffic is the goal, but should it be the only goal? I think not.
Know Your Audience
Many pros have been harping on this for quite some time, but it seems some people aren’t listening. Your audience is why you are here, your audience is why you make your products or perform your service. Everything you do should start with knowing your audience. Your audience, not search engine technology, dictates your products, services and actions.
Show Your Audience You Care
Beyond knowing your audience, you should demonstrate that you care about their needs, thoughts and opinions. If you are clear about your goals when it comes to your audience and the benefits you provide them, (and you are providing clear benefits, aren’t you!?) then the audience you go after will feel emotional about your offerings. They will feel a connection that maybe they can’t quite identify but it’s there nonetheless.
Stop Focusing on Technology
Keywords and search terms do matter, it’s clear, but they should not be your only focus. Many online marketers forgot about that in the race to the first page of results based on search engine technology. This is why Google, in their race to do their job for their customers (which is to return high quality relevant search results), keeps changing things up. As soon as marketers learn to snake the system, Google changes the algorithm. Stop worrying about the algorithm and focus instead on your clients, future clients, and their needs.
Invite Audience Participation
This can happen on social media and your website. When you study your metrics, look at the time spent on your website and the bounce rate. These are two important indicators that will tell you if you are speaking to your audience clearly enough. Encourage engagement to get them to stick around, and not leave. Ask for their opinion, conduct a poll, start a discussion (perhaps with with a controversial blog post). Ask them what they think. Make them part of your brand, because they are — if it wasn’t for your customers, your brand wouldn’t mean a lick.
Let Go of Keyword Density (for the love of the SEO gods, let it go….man)
The fact is, other than being accused of keyword stuffing, trying to write a particular percentage “keyword density” in your blogs, articles and other content should not be the focus of your content. Read that sentence again until you’re blue in the face. You still do want to try to use keywords in your titles, in your URLs and in headers, but you really don’t need to worry about using keywords inside the text to the extent that people want to jump out of a window after reading your crap. Use keywords and derivatives naturally…your audience will respond better. Warm and fuzzy, right?
This isn’t to say that SEO is going away. Unlike what Inc.com says, anyways. Like everything marketers do online (remember, we build sand castles, not cathedrals), things change — SEO included. It’s time to put our focus where it should have been all along and that is on the audience. Before we had search technology, marketing focused on studying the audience and their needs and then creating advertising and marketing that appealed them. SEO used in conjunction with that will go a lot farther than focusing on just search engine signals.