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8 Tools to Better Understand Your Target Audience

May 24, 2010 / by Dan Patterson

We read a lot in the SEO world about things like keyword research, analyzing your competitors, and other things to get traffic to your site. But I don’t see information very often about deciding who your target audience is and how to make sure your keyword choices will actually reach them.

This is one way to take your keyword research to the next level, and it’s well worth the effort. So rather than trying to guess whether your SEO or PPC ads are appearing in front of the right people, here are some tools you can use to make sure.

Google Trends

Google Trends

How It’s Useful: If all you’re looking for is a basic search volume trend line and a few regional ideas, this is your tool. Google Trends will show you the keyword search volume trends on Google since 2004. You can narrow it down to specific years and months or to specific countries if you’re planning to target your search marketing campaigns that way.

Use this tool >

Google Insights for Search

Google Insights for Search

How It’s Useful: Google Insights for Search shows similar trend data to Google Trends, but takes it a step further and shows you even more detail on regional interest levels and additional search terms that are related to your keywords. This can help you to avoid using terms that are not as popular as others in your target area and really see where your target audience is geographically located.

Use this tool >

Bing xRank

Bing xRank

How It’s Useful: Bing xRank has a long way to go to catch up with the amount of detail provided in Google Insights for Search, but at least it gives you an idea of the search volume trends on Bing. I would only use this tool to make sure that searcher trends match across the two search engines.

Use this tool >

Quantcast

Quantcast

How It’s Useful: Quantcast can be a very helpful tool to see the relative traffic and visitor demographics for your own site and your competitors’. It is especially useful if the sites you are looking at are Quantified. If the site is Quantified you will see more accurate traffic and demographic information. If not, you can still get some good sample data to better understand the visitor demographics.

Use this tool >

Compete

Compete.com

How It’s Useful: Compete is a good tool for analyzing the kind of traffic your competitors are getting. With a Pro account you can also get ideas about their visitor demographics. To use this tool effectively you only need to look at it for sites that are closely related to yours. They work off of sampled data, though, so take it for what it’s worth.

Use this tool >

Alexa

Alexa

How It’s Useful: Similar to Compete, Alexa will give you an idea of the kind of traffic a competitor gets and an insight into their visitor demographics. You can also use Alexa to get some ideas about the keywords driving traffic to a site. Like Compete, this tool will only be useful if you know which sites are targeting the same market as you, but unlike Compete you get more information for free with Alexa.

Use this tool >

Detecting Online Commercial Intent

Detecting Online Commercial Intention

How It’s Useful: This is a very simple tool that analyzes the keywords searchers are using and which ones will likely lead to a transaction or conversion. Just type in a keyword and the tool tells you the degree of probability for commercial or non-commercial intent. This can help you focus on the keywords your potential visitors are using that will most likely lead to an improvement in your bottom line.

Use this tool >

Demographics Prediction

Demographics Prediction

How It’s Useful: If you already have a good handle on your target audience’s demographics, you can use this tool to make sure that your keywords actually fit with those demographics. This way you won’t accidentally target keywords that really target women when you meant to target men. I would make sure to compare the data from this tool with other tools to make sure you're getting a good sample.

Use this tool >

I know there are other tools out there that also offer a lot of demographic and keyword data, but these are some great ones to start with. This post doesn't even look at the ones that have to do with social media. If you know of some other tools that you like to use, please add them in the comments and explain how you use them.

Topics: Keyword Research Blog Competitive Analysis

Dan Patterson

Written by Dan Patterson

Dan has been involved in online marketing since 1999 when he first started building websites for people. Since then he has worked as a template designer, regional account coordinator for a pay-per-click search engine, internet marketing trainer, and is the former Director of On-Page Optimization at SEO.com. Dan graduated from UVU with a degree in Information Systems, and currently lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife and two sons.

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