What is a target audience?

A target audience is a strategically selected group of consumers that your content and products or services are intended for. Understanding your target audience is crucial to any content creation campaign. 

How to Find Your Target Audience

Setting your domain and brand to sail on the tides of the internet is a daring adventure, especially when you are attempting to wrangle the winds of search engine optimization. But building a boat and harnessing the wind is only part of the journey; you must have a compass to know which direction to steer, and that is done by defining your target audience. You can begin your journey of discovery in the following article.

What Is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a carefully selected and predetermined readership or group of consumers that your content and products or services are intended for. It is similar to a target market but is more specific, and more carefully crafted. While a target market may be broad, target audiences are defined by finer demographic details, and a more nuanced understanding of their wants, needs, and motivations.

For example:

If your company sells aftermarket GPS devices for cars, your target market is drivers or car owners. However, your target audience — the people you are writing content for — are people who regularly drive and may need directional assistance. The target audiences you may craft specific content for might include:

  • High school-aged drivers;
  • People who travel for business;
  • Lift, Uber, or taxi drivers;
  • Truck drivers;
  • Etc.
Want to learn more?
Visit our blog to learn more about search and search engine optimization.
 SEO Keyword Research

SEO Keyword Research

Read our comprehensive SEO keyword research guide to learn how you can get your web pages to show up higher in the SERPs.

Link Building Guide

Link Building Guide

Check out our ultimate link building guide to learn how to earn powerful backlinks to empower your web content in search.

Identifying Your Target Audience

A few simple data points and demographics that can help you to define your target audience may include:

  • Age groups;
  • Gender identities or profiles;
  • Economic and/or social class;
  • Educational background;
  • Industry groups;
  • Experience or expertise;
  • Geographic location;
  • Consumer habits;
  • Other defining characteristics that may be important to your product, such as marital or employment status, or parents vs. childless families, etc.

Creating highly generalized content may increase traffic to your site, but does not create qualified traffic that is genuinely interested in your product or has the potential for conversion. The more narrow you can define your target audience, the better you can craft your content to target them. 

Target Audience Personas

You can further define your target audience by creating personas. A persona represents an even more focused target audience that further qualifies your readers or consumers. You can identify the personas of your target audience by considering:

  • Who they are and how they identify with your brand.
  • What their pain points or negative responses are, and how your brand can benefit them or provide relief.
  • What type of information is important to them, and additionally, where and how they find it.
  • What types of information you need to provide to build trust with your readers and potential consumers.

There are instances in which you may craft content to reach target audiences outside of the one you have specified to suit your brand and domain, but we will cover this in the final section that discusses content creation. The following practices can help you to further define and discover the target audience of your brand and domain.

Keyword Research and Demographics

A keyword is a term, phrase, or long-tail query that is used by searchers to find web content, and is interpreted by search engines to provide a result. Your domain should utilize keywords to associate your brand, products, and services with the interests or needs of your target audience. The keywords will describe the type of content on your domain. 

To build a keyword seed list, you should target terms and long-tail queries that are directly associated with your products and services, these terms should also be regularly used by your target audience. Keyword research can be outsourced to keyword research services, or can be generated by researching with the following tools:

When creating your keyword seed list, it is important to also consider relevant and associated keywords as well as long-tail queries. When you have established your keyword seed list, you can utilize keywords to discover more about the demographics of your target audience using tools such as demographics.io, or Google Trends, which can provide valuable information on who is searching for your keywords as well as the geographic locations of where the words were searched.

Competitor Analysis

In addition to considering keywords and their associated demographics, you should also complete the same analysis for your competitors to identify keyword opportunities. Identifying ranking keywords that your competitors are using to build relationships with their target audience may provide further insight into the type of content you need to create to serve your target audience and satisfy searcher intent. The valuable keyword spaces your competitors occupy, you must also occupy. 

To improve your site with competitive analysis it is important to understand that your brand competitors may not be the same as your semantic search competitors, but you need to look at both. Your brand competitors will be businesses that are in direct competition for conversion. Your search competitors are domains that occupy the keyword spaces that are important to your domain. 

To discover your competitors you can use tools such as Serpstat, SEMrush, or Ahrefs. When you have gathered a competitor list, you can utilize the following tools to identify demographics and psychographics that can help you continue to refine your target audience and their preferences.

Organic Traffic

One of the first things to do in identifying your target audience is to interpret the organic traffic your domain is already earning. This may help you to understand if you are reaching your target audience, or if you have a more generalized audience. If the organic traffic you receive aligns with your target market, you are likely creating and serving content that is valuable to your target audience. If you discover that your organic traffic does not align with your brand, products, and services, this may indicate that further keyword research and competitor analysis is necessary. Discovering your organic traffic is simple to do through Google Analytics by enabling Demographics and Interest reports. 

Social Insights and Surveys

There are a few ways to directly figure out what your audience wants to know, through social insights and surveys. If your brand has a business presence on Facebook, you can simply look at a synopsis of your follower information by navigating to “Insights,” and then selecting the tab labeled “People” to receive a demographic overview of your followers. 

You may also look at the demographics of your competitor’s social media by using tools such as Followerwonk. Followerwonk will also populate a word cloud that illustrates what users are typically talking about. These insights may provide insight to keyword and long-tail query opportunities that you can use to reach your target audience.

A more straightforward method to understanding your target audience is to ask them questions directly through a survey. You can utilize surveys to further create profiles of your target audience or to ask them what type of information they need. Surveys may be completed on social media platforms as a poll, by leveraging an email list, or through a paid polling service such as Pollfish.

Create a Content Strategy that Delivers to Your Target Audience

By defining your target audience, you can begin (or continue) to create content that is strategized to meet their needs with information, tools, or recommendations. There are two major types of content that you may create to facilitate your SEO goals, keywords, and linkable content. Each has its own defining characteristics and use of target audiences.

Keyword-Focused Content

Keyword-focused content creation should be focused on providing information that is directly related to your domain and brand. This type of content should be focused on fulfilling the needs of your target audience while building authority around your subject matter. By increasing your subject matter authority, you may become more visible in search and draw in more qualified traffic.

Linkable Content

Linkable content creation is foundational to earning organic links or creating a custom link building campaign. When creating linkable content, you may be designing content that is curated for other target niches, rather than your own specialized target niche. The content must be applicable in some way to your domain, brand, and other content, but needs to provide enough opportunity to join popular online conversations in other audiences to expand linking and outreach opportunities. Though you may not be speaking directly to your target audience, you must still strategize, craft, and target other valuable audiences that you have identified. Earning links is an essential component of your overall SEO efforts. It proves to search engines that your site truly is a noteworthy authority that has earned votes of confidence from other websites.

No matter the type of content you are creating, you must always first ask yourself “who is this article speaking to?” and “what purpose does it serve?” Answering these simple questions can help you decide if you are on the right track in reaching your target audience, or not.