How well does your website work for your ideal customers?
As I talked about in a recent blog, the more you know your ideal customer, the bigger the positive impact on your SEO. You’ll see benefits such as easier keyword selection, greater engagement in your targeted content, more clicks on your calls to action, more links back to your site, and a spot-on user experience that builds raving fans of your brand.
Of course, to achieve these things, getting to know your ideal customer is just the beginning. The next step is to create content that will bring them to your website and keep them there.
How do you achieve this? That’s what we’re diving into in this blog with the three secrets behind websites that wow their ideal customers.
Secret One: You need to know what drives your ideal customers
Your starting point will be to understand more about what makes your ideal customers tick.
As you grow to know them, you can begin to really dig deep into the thoughts and feelings that are driving their behaviour and how this connects to your business.
Identify ‘pain’ points
Is there something happening in their life that is causing them stress right now? This is commonly called a ‘pain point’. If so, how can your product solve this pain for them and, most importantly, how will they feel when the pain has been dealt with?
Imagine, for example, a sleep-deprived mother whose baby is waking every hour throughout the night. It’s been months! She’s exhausted, stressed, at breaking point because she can barely function. This is the pain point that would drive her to look for a sleep solution for her baby. If someone could offer a product or technique that would let her and her baby sleep, she would feel elated, refreshed, back in control of her life and able to function again. It would also improve her relationships with her baby or the rest of the family. This is what someone selling swaddling blankets would want to tap into with their content.
Or are your customers motivated by their aspirations? Do they want a greater sense of status, fulfilment or validation? How would your product or service give them this and how would it feel?
I recently found a great board on Pinterest featuring aspirational ads that tap into these kind of feelings. The reader is reassured that they will be the kind of person other people look up to, that they will be respected and admired, or receive the best of what’s available in life. The draw here is the promised lifestyle or feelings of fulfilment rather than the means to achieve them.
You see, the truth is that people don’t really care about a product or service. What they care about is what it will do for them and, above all, how it will make them feel.
Neurological studies have confirmed that we humans are driven by our feelings, especially when making a purchase when 95% of the decision-making process takes place in our subconscious mind. In fact, one study found that people whose brains are damaged in the area that generates emotions are incapable of making decisions, even with facts to work from.
As we can see, it isn’t enough for your website to showcase the features of your products or services. You need to highlight the benefits and outcomes, inviting your ideal customers to imagine how good they will feel when they buy from you.
A really simple but powerful question to ask when creating content for your website is “So what?” Ask it every time you write a line of copy, add a picture, use a call to action, create a page or any other feature on your website.
It’s important to keep questioning why each aspect of your content matters to your ideal customers. Is each benefit clear?
Here’s an example of fantastic content from Basecamp:
What is Basecamp? Well, it’s a tool for remote project management.
This means that people who are having to work from home (especially relevant during a global pandemic) can still work together on team projects, even though they’re physically apart. This makes it easy to stay organised, hit deadlines and manage everything effectively.
Businesses can remain open and profitable and bring staff stress levels right down, leading to a happy and productive workforce. As the copy promises, after signing up to Basecamp, “you’ll be feeling like, ‘Hey, we got this’”.
Put simply, Basecamp is a hassle-free “All-In-One Toolkit for Working Remotely”. For businesses that have had to switch to remote working, the promise of everything in one place and being on top of things is pure gold.
It’s the simplicity and hope of going from chaos to calm that sells this product, not the message boards, to-do lists or group chat features.
Secret Two: You must speak your customer’s language
Having started to get clear on what will motivate your ideal customers to buy from you, your next step will be to identify the kind of language they’ll use to find your services.
For example, the other day I heard a dog behaviourist mention that while training professionals might want to promote “loose lead walking”, a dog owner would probably describe their issue as “my dog won’t stop pulling”. They might not know what the solution is. The keywords a behaviourist might use should potentially focus on the clients’ pulling dog problem rather than the loose lead solution.
This is an example of pain-point SEO.
Instead of taking the more traditional approach of creating a keyword list>prioritising by volume>coming up with content to fit, pain-point SEO focuses on knowing a customer pain point>coming up with content ideas to help with this>finding appropriate keywords to reflect the customers’ language.
By turning things on their head slightly, you can generate content that’s all about search intent and providing genuine value, based on your ideal customers’ needs.
Tools to help you understand your customers’ search intent and the words they might use
If you’re not sure how your customers are talking about your products or services, there are some handy tools that can help to put you on the right track.
Answer the Public is a search listening tool that can help you discover what people are searching for in relation to your field, products or services.
Let’s go back to that sleepless mother from my earlier example.
If I search for ‘baby sleep’ in the Answer the Public, I can see that people are asking if baby sleeping bags are safe or if a baby wakes throughout the night because it’s hungry. People want to know whether sleep experts are worth the investment or when babies begin to sleep through the night.
Each of these questions gives valuable insights into the worries that are currently going through the sleepless parent’s mind. We can use this knowledge to create content that addresses and soothes these worries.
Also Asked is another great tool for understanding search intent.
A quick search for ‘dog behaviour’, to use another earlier example, brings up some valuable questions that clearly matter to dog owners experiencing behavioural problems:
We can see from the search terms that people want to know whether they should be the ‘Alpha’ (a widely debunked dog behavioural theory that still perseveres) or how to recognise and deal with dog aggression. Understanding how dog owners talk in this context would help a dog behaviourist create helpful, potentially life-changing content.
Even the free version of the Ahrefs Keyword Generator can give you some handy insights into the questions your ideal customers are asking.
For example, as an SEO expert, I might wonder what people want to know about backlinks. If I type ‘backlinks’ into the Ahrefs Keyword Generator search bar and click the ‘Questions’ tab, I can see that people are asking, “What are backlinks?”, “How can I create backlinks for my website?” or “How many backlinks do I have?”
My next task would be to create content that answers those questions for my ideal customers.
Where this tool is helpful is it gives some indication about keyword difficulty and potential search volumes.
The Moz Keyword Explorer is another great tool for unearthing searches made around a topic, keyword difficulty, which existing articles are ranking highly, relevancy to your audience and more. Currently, you can carry out 10 free keyword searches per month.
- Social listening tools
To understand more about the way your audience talks, you might also want to explore some of the social listening tools used to track what people are talking about on social media. HubSpot has put together a great list here.
Secret Three: Always structure your website to help your ideal customer
Now you understand more about what motivates your ideal customer and the language they use, your next step is to think about the information you need on the site and how it should all fit together.
Get this right and you can help your ideal clients move effortlessly from A to B. You can also make the entire site work harder and become more visible.
Your website needs what I call an ‘information hierarchy’ and keyword selection based on the following:
- Level of importance to the client
- Level of importance to your business
- What you want people to do
Below, I want to talk more about the information hierarchy and its practical application.
The information hierarchy
So, what is the information hierarchy of a website?
Personally, I find it helpful to visualise it as a physical space, such as a gallery.
Level One of that space – the top of the information hierarchy – acts like a front door or large window displaying what’s inside and letting people know that they’re in the right place to find what they wanted, needed or expected when they made a Google search.
Level Two takes you to the spaces beyond the entrance. In our metaphorical gallery, it’s the equivalent of a different space for each artist or art form (i.e. your product categories or main services). The same level might also take you to the on-site shop or the customer reception.
Level Three is where people can get more specific about what they want to know, focusing on particular aspects of your offering. This level is likely to give visitors more in-depth educational information about what’s contained in each of the Level Two spaces.
There might even be a lower level to your information hierarchy, the metaphorical basement or housekeeping areas of the site where policies and site maps are kept.
Let’s look at these levels in more detail below but explore what they actually mean for your website:
· Level One: The top of your website’s information hierarchy
At the top level of your website, there should be the Home page and the About page. As I explained in my analogy above, it’s this top-level information that lets visitors know that they’re in the right place to meet whatever need that motivated them to search or click through to your site.
These pages should include information about:
- Who you are as a service provider
- Who you serve
Keywords about who you are and how you serve should be the primary keywords on these top-level pages. These will typically be generic and competitive keywords, such as web designer, copywriter, health coach, life coach, marketing consultant, photographer, wedding planner, dog trainer, hairdresser, etc.
Think about how your ideal customer might describe you and talk about yourself in those terms.
Level Two: Your service or product pages
Having helped your visitors get their bearings, it’s time to invite them deeper into your website to show them what you have to offer.
In Level Two of your information hierarchy, you will want to talk more specifically about:
- What you sell
- Who you serve
- How you serve them
Let’s say that you’re a photographer in Devon. On your homepage, you would say “I’m a photographer in Devon for couples or for families”. This is your overall description.
However, on your Level Two pages, you can communicate the products and services you offer. This could be family portrait sessions, mini sessions for kids, newborn sessions, wedding photography, engagement photos, or even pet photography (after all, they’re part of the family too). Each of these pages might have a slightly different audience.
Imagine walking into a supermarket. Level Two of the information hierarchy is the equivalent of having signs over each aisle broadly describing what can be found there.
What are the products and services that you provide? How should you structure Level Two of your information hierarchy?
You might, for example, choose to have one service page or you could have a few different service pages. Alternatively, you might have a shop full of products or split your shop via product categories – each of those pages can have its own keyword.
Can you see how we’re getting more specific now, talking about the actual product of working with you, i.e. that all-important outcome?
For example, it’s on Level Two that you’re telling your customers that they’ll come away with pictures that capture a moment in time of their family to be cherished forever. Or they’ll get a website that converts visitors into happy customers, boosting profits and enabling success. Or that they’ll feel more confident backed by the knowledge of their business coach.
The message will depend on your products and services but Level Two is the perfect place to set out your various offerings.
On these pages, you should also include the extra information that your audience is likely to want to know about your services or products and encourage them to take the desired action, such as:
- Benefit rich copy – I’ve mentioned this above but it’s so important that it deserves repeating. How does your service benefit the customer? Be specific about these benefits on your Level Two pages.
- Your unique value – how are you different/better than your competitors?
- Trust factors – your qualifications and experience and testimonials that mention key benefits and pain points you’re highlighting on the page.
- A call to action – make it clear what the next thing they should do is and make this easy for them. People appreciate being directed to their next step.
If you’re stuck, you might find it helpful to look at your competitors for possible ideas. The pages that already rank well are obviously doing what needs to be done, so these can be a great source of ideas.
Level Three: Answering questions and educating your audience
The third tier of your information hierarchy is dedicated to answering the questions that people have about your service or products.
Sometimes these questions can go on your FAQ page or they can go on your sales pages. But for the most part, these really detailed topics should be some form of educational content. So these could be blog posts, podcasts or videos.
By being able to go into a greater level of detail, you can answer peoples’ questions before they even have a chance to ask them. You can be found for specific queries that they’re searching for and get that level of authority by answering their questions before they even know you exist. So that’s where some of this additional content comes into play and these can target hyper-specific questions and include long-tail keywords and phrases.
In my article, Why your business needs a blog, I introduced the concept of blog clusters and the ‘hub and spoke’ model of blogging.
As you can see from the graphic above, each blog cluster has a central piece of cornerstone content. This is the ‘hub’ article that gives an overarching view of a particular topic or category on your website.
The ‘hub’ article is supported by various ‘spoke’ articles, which drill down to specific subjects within the overarching topic.
I’ve used an example from my own blog in this graphic. One of my main blog clusters is about all things related to on-page SEO and the ‘hub’ article covers this. However, you will also find other articles on my website covering topics relating to on-page SEO such as Schema markup, internal links, user experience and so on. The focus of the spokes is narrower but more in-depth than in the hub.
With the ‘hub and spoke’ model, the hub article includes links to all of its spokes and each spoke contains a link back to the hub.
The power of this is that it allows link juice to flow freely between all of the content in the cluster. For example, if the hub article begins to rank highly for specific searches, the spoke articles may also see their rankings go up by association.
This is a fantastic way to make the Level Three content of your information hierarchy work harder, as well as being easier for visitors to navigate (great for the UX!).
Using Level Three to grow your business
Level Three content has a vital role to play. It can help you to raise brand awareness, grow your authority, educate your ideal customers, smash barriers to buying, and much, much more.
To attract the perfect customers for your business, you would aim to create the content they’re searching for here in Level Three.
As you’ve seen, this could be in the form of a blog post, infographic, video tutorial or podcast … whatever format would work best for your audience. You can then promote this on social media or to your email marketing list.
The key thing is to mention a specific and relevant service in each Level Three piece of content that compels the reader up to Level Two. This will confirm that you sell the outcomes they want (whether through products or services). If your information hierarchy is working as it should, they will naturally look for more information about you up on Level One.
This is when the customer will make a booking, purchase or enquiry. In other words, they don’t leave that Level One foyer space without connecting with you before they go.
And that means more sales, more profits, more stability, more growth and more success for your business.
Do you want to learn how to identify your ideal customers and build an online presence that naturally attracts them 24/7 so you no longer have to constantly slog away at marketing? Check out my “Know Your Ideal Customer and Power Up Your Sales” course, which is perfect for freelancers, small business owners and solopreneurs who want to turn their websites into unstoppable customer magnets.