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13 Reasons Why the Buyer Persona Matters More than the Search Engine

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 7/3/13 11:00 AM

Why is it that as much as SEO changes, it still remains the same?

In the marketing world, every time a major algorithm update happens over at Google (hello Penquin), everyone seems proclaims the end of things as they were and announced the entrance for the new things to come. No wonder business owners roll their eyes and get panic attacks when SEO is brought up. If it weren't for the fact that Google still has the majority of the search market, and that the majority of buyers turn to Google to research a product or service before buying- they wouldn't care.
Having been at this internet marketing gig for over a decade now, I have seen many of the search engine optimization changes come and go and how they have played out. And throughout all of them, one thing remains the same.
Google cares about the user, the person, who is looking for an answer. So as much as they change their algorithm, to the ones who understand a basic truth, it really remains the same.
Understand the person you are talking to online (empathy) and you will understand the Google SEO updates. Because it really is all about the experience of the person who asks Google a question and lands on your website.

What the latest changes are and why understanding the buyer (persona) is more important.

With over 200 reported factors that determine Google SERPs (search engine results page), you could spend all of your hours trying to figure it out, or pay someone else a lot of money to figure it out and do it for you. 

Or you can remember the thing that really matters, the person who is searching- not the search engine. Here's a short list of the breakdown why (in my opinion):

  1. Duplicate content is bad. What could be more frustrating to a searcher than finding the same old content on one site after another?
  2. Recent content is good. The more recent, or fresh the information, the more likely is to be relevant to the searcher's request.
  3. Broken links are bad. You click, it doesn't work, you have to start over. Doesn't need much more of an explanation does it?
  4. Multi-media is good. Choices! Not everyone wants to read 600 words, or watch a video. If you understand your searcher, you should also be able to understand what kind of media that is most interesting to them at whatever buying stage they are at. 
  5. References and sources. Even Harvard Business Review references other sites and expertise. Adding other sources to your content tells your searcher that you have done your research and truly want to educate them, not just sell them something because 'you are the market leader'.
  6. Site architecture. How easy is it for a searcher to get around your site intuitively and find what they are looking for? Customer journey mapping and conversion optimization experts have known this for many years. 
  7. Contact us page. This is a personal pet peeve of mine when the contact us page is a form you have to fill out and wait for someone to get back to you. Even worse is when there is no actual address to verify that this is a real business with real people. Sometimes you just want a phone number for crying out loud! 
  8. Breadcrumb navigation. As your site grows, and especially if you sell products online- breadcrumbs that tell someone who is on your site where they have been and how to get back makes it easier to get around your site.
  9. Mobile optimized. Our phones never leave our pockets, and the rising tide of mobile search means you need to meet the people where they are. Making your site mobile friendly saves us all from have to expand and shrink until our eyes and fingers hurt. 
  10. Contextual links. Hyperlinks within your copy that refer to more information helps those on your site see what is important in the copy and gives them a path to more information. It's not just about big blaring 'submit' buttons. Some of us like to read through valuable content and learn more before we will 'submit' to you.
  11. User interaction. As a general rule, the more others are doing it (visiting, staying, and clicking on your site) the more likely others will want to do it. This speaks directly to the user experience, and the sites that can deliver one are more likely to get others to their site. 
  12. Social proof. The more relevant, compelling, fun, and useful you are to searches, the better their experience with your content and website are- the more likely they are to want to tell their friends. The more friends they tell, the more Google will also want to tell new people about you. 
  13. Birds of a feather... If you link to or reference other sites that are not reputable, or marked as spam by Google- you may end up sharing in their reputation. Searchers will also judge you by the company you keep. Do your due diligence.

Topics: search engine optimization, SEO, buyer personas