Last weekend, I stopped by my friend’s work to surprise her with a new plant for her birthday. Tucked in the basement of a Boston brownstone, I ooo-ed and aw-ed at the plant selection, trying to find the right one for the occasion.
Here I was trying to make a purchasing decision with no roadmap. I wish there was a sign for low-maintenance-safe-to-give-to-friends plants, but the store wasn’t organized this way. I ended up buying Jade after reading a few descriptions, but I keep wondering how my purchasing decision might have changed if I had a better sense of my options.
As I walked out of the store, I couldn’t help but think of how these small customer moments, where people need or want a specific product or service, are filled with friction and little information. This was a perfect opportunity for the business to create a blog post that groups their inventory on the degree of maintenance required. Instead of surfing around the web trying to answer my question, they could rank at the top of the search results and help me solve my problem in a way that leaves me feeling satisfied with my shopping experience.
Bringing Small Customer Moments into Your Content
It’s micro moments that remind me that humans are at the center of our work. Real people who are trying to accomplish real tasks in a real world. Since so much of our time is spent behind a screen, it’s easy to forget that we’re just talking to other people. When we’re doing keyword research to figure out which content to develop, these moments where people are looking for information or trying to accomplish a task should be sources of inspiration.
Information about your customers is right at your fingertips and you can start to use the data you have to give life to your first customer personas, uncovering the pain points your business solves. With a strong sense of your customer, you’ll be able to discover the right keywords and create content that resonates with your audience.
Finding Your Target Demographic from Google & Social Analytics
In order to create your first customer profile, which will be the anchor for your keyword strategy and content development, you’ll need sales data and stories from the people who visit your shop. It takes less than 10 minutes to look up the demographic information on your website and social channels. You can quickly look at the age, location, gender, income, and other industries that interest your users on Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Twitter Analytics.
Take your top three social media channels and record the age, gender, income, and location of the majority of your users combined with the same data from Google Analytics. You can also batch your traffic into your most popular and second most popular user groups, if you want to create two customer personas from your data — these are your target demographics. 
Forums Are Keyword Gold Mines 
One of the best ways you can learn about people’s pain points and how you can help is through Reddit or industry-specific forums. There are all types of forums online where people offer advice to one another. This is a great place for you to learn about what customers are looking for by reading the questions they’re asking of one another. By reading through forums, you’ll uncover the keywords that people use when trying to solve the problem that your product or service solves. You can use these keywords throughout your website if it’s related directly to your product or you can create blog posts based on some of the questions people ask.
Find one industry-specific forum and one subreddit. Write down 20 keywords that people are using and 10 questions that users are asking. Next to the question, write down the pain point and how it can be solved. Use the keywords on your product or service landing page and the user questions to develop your SEO content strategy.
Making Meaning from Customer Surveys 
Even the smallest businesses can use customer surveys to create webpages that meet the searcher’s intent because of their laser-focused keyword strategy. On every website, you’ll find existing webpages that can benefit from a keyword audit. Fill in existing content gaps on your webpage by asking users – What brought you to this page? Even if you hear from 5% of users, you’ll have new ideas about ways you can improve the webpage.
Create a 2 question survey on your webpages where the keyword focus is unclear or you’re looking for new opportunities. Review the qualitative data and create 2-3 new pieces of content to include on your webpage.
Deepening Your Understanding through Customer Interviews
The data that’s provided from one-on-one customer interviews is invaluable. From understanding their pain points to listening to the words they use to describe their experience with your product or service, there is no shortage of data to be had. You can use customer interviews or improve your product and service, but you can also find inspiration for new keywords and content.
Send an email out to a list of return visitors or loyal customers asking if they’d be interested in a one-on-one interview. Schedule an interview where you can watch them interact with your website and ask them questions as they go through each webpage.
By pulling these sources of data together and places people at the center of your keyword and content strategy, you’ll be able to attract the right audience. Instead of writing “SEO” content or throwing keywords together for the sake of traffic, this will help you strike the balance of creating a website that is for people and optimized for search engines.