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All marketing rises and falls on your ability to recognize your audience and speak directly to them. Yet all too many advertising campaigns fail to do one or both of these things, and it’s really easy to miss the mark with SEO if you don’t do your homework about your customer demographics before you start executing your marketing initiatives.

Without knowing who your customers are and where they live online, you can’t do adequate keyword research, you can’t write content that they’ll be interested in and you won’t be able to optimize your site to a specific customer profile. Take a deeper look as to why your bad research is killing your SEO and how to avoid these common mistakes:

Working With Too Broad A Keyword List

casting too wide a netCasting too wide a net is not a new problem for marketers, and certainly not for web marketers, who almost by definition are targeting a niche. But if you try to generate content or run a PPC campaign, you’ll quickly discover that you haven’t gone deep enough. And if you try to stay broad, you’ll only be diluting your efforts. Even worse than a broad list is having keywords that target to the wrong niche. Then you’re just marketing to people who will never be your customers.

Using Google Adwords Keyword Tool is not enough on its own; though it will help you discover other valuable long-tail keywords that you might use to target searches and even online discussions you didn’t know where there. Raw market research, understanding the age, gender, socioeconomic and other demographic descriptors are the basis of all the rest of your research. Then you can start researching keywords that target the right customer profiles. You also have to know your competitors, who they’re targeting, and how your customers’ needs are evolving with the market.

Targeting The Wrong Content Subjects

Even if you do have the right keywords, bad research could lead you to generate content on the wrong subjects, too shallow unless you know the deeper topics that are part of the ongoing conversation between your customers and the industry that’s trying to meet their needs.
The bar continues to be raised on content quality, so much so simply including a link in the author bio on a blog post that only tangentially relates to the actual link destination just isn’t going to work any longer.

find social spacesThe essence of content marketing is that you first understand the customers you’re targeting, start living in their online ecosystem, and then start living there. Find the social spaces in which your target demographics spend their time. And I don’t just mean Facebook and Twitter. Seek out a market niche on Pinterest or speciality websites like Untappd where a very narrow slice of very engaged users could just be waiting for you to post relevant content. That’s where you’ll earn the links, shares, traffic etc. that you need to convert customers and spread your influence through the right spheres. It takes knowledge and research to create authentic content for such specific online niches, but the return in high conversion rates is worth it. There are few places where your marketing energy could be better spent.

A Narrow Focus On Blogs

customers all over the placeBlogs are not the whole internet, and your potential customers are all over the place. Do you know where to find them? If you haven’t done your research beforehand to find out what types of content they’re consuming. Whitepapers, infographics, videos, tutorials, and downloads can all be effective for drawing in customers as well as links.

There is real opportunity right now for marketers who are willing to invest the time in detailed, data-driven content, websites and blogs and downloads that have real meat on their bones. Info-hungry customers will be drawn in by those marketing efforts that provide them with the data that helps inform them, solves a problem for them or helps them make a purchase. If you target the wrong marketing channels online, you’re likely to reach customers at the wrong step in the purchasing path, if you reach them at all.

Like I said before, proper market research is the basis for everything else we do as marketers. These mistakes aren’t things that people just fall into by mistake; they’re the natural result of trying to execute a marketing campaign based on bad information. If you do your homework, all of your marketing energy will start flowing in the right direction.