• http://www.seo.com prestonvandyke

    Shari – Great advice and insight here. Honestly understanding the target audience and not how marketers perceive that audience is much more difficult than you would typically think. Often we really do go about our content creation with our “keyword blinders” on.

    Although I have found it can be good to separate functions into different teams that each play their own niche role. Meaning:

    Keyword Research & Optimization Team
    Content Creation Team

    This way the SEO expert can be their to ensure correct optimization while the content creators and specialists can worry solely about what the audience is actually going to benefit from.

  • http://merchantservicesforyourbusiness.blogspot.com Walter Whitley

    I enjoyed you article and was wondering if you have more on the subject. I started a SEO business and with all the reading I didn’t even think of this until I read your article.

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hi guys-

    Thanks for your feedback. I do things very differently than many SEO professionals. I think I always have.

    I absolutely do NOT keep the Keyword Research & Optimization Team, and the Content Creation Team separate. I see what happens every time: the proverbial blame game.

    “My article didn’t rank/convert because the SEOs didn’t do their jobs!”

    “Your article didn’t rank/conver because you didn’t allow us to use keywords appropriately in your articles.”

    And so on and so on. And you know (sarcasm coming), it’s also the tech team’s fault that they didn’t do something either. I see the blame game being played at large companies all of the time.

    So none of this blame game nonsense when people work with me. Findability/search is universal. It’s a part of everyone’s job whether he/she realizes it or not. Personas are a great tool – when used properly, they get all teams to focus on the user instead of their personal mental models.

    To Walter, I suggest taking usability classes. Personas and scenarios are usability and information architecture (IA) tools. I observe SEO professionals misinterpret these tools all of the time…usually in the name of the user experience. Kim Cooper is a wonderful instructor and has more knowledge about these topics than one might imagine.

    Information architects and usability professionals are not off the hook, either, in understanding web searchers. I would honestly like to see them create test scenarios where the point of origin is a Google/Bing/Yahoo search listing. Maybe those groups might understand SEO better if they did that.

    End of rant. :-)

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Sorry about “convert” typo.

  • http://www.cre8pc.com Kim Krause Berg

    “This way the SEO expert can be their to ensure correct optimization while the content creators and specialists can worry solely about what the audience is actually going to benefit from.”

    Like Shari, I do SEO far differently. The myth is that SEO is just for search engines and content development targets people. However, people are the ones doing the searching, so therefore, what they want is the most important factor. Sadly, when an SEO doesn’t factor in what benefits readers and customers, all the rank in the world isn’t to create conversions or buzz.

  • http://www.pcwizz.co.za Dewaldt Huysamen

    Hi there.

    Before I do keyword research, I search forums and sites like yahoo answers and even do research on books that are related to the niche in question.

    This way you at least get an idea of what type of persona you are working with and what people are looking for when it comes to the niche in question.