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What is SEO? 3: Defining Your Target Audience

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what-is-seo-search-engine-optimizationIn our What is SEO? blog series we are explaining all the aspects of SEO when comparing SEO services (or doing your own SEO) you can make an informed decision about what you want your SEO service to include.

So far we’ve talked about Setting Goals and making sure they are SMART, ROI-Based SEO Goals.

Setting the right goals is something you the website owner usually have to do, but a professional SEO who genuinely wants you to succeed (like OurChurch.Com) may help you think through and determine goals.

Another aspect of the SEO process that is typically the organization’s responsibility is…

Defining Your Target Audience

Everybody wants more visitors to their website, but not all website visitors are created equal.

If you are a plumber in Miami does it help you achieve your goals if you gain hundreds of new website visitors from Seattle? If you’re an elementary school in St. Louis is it of any benefit if you get a surge of traffic from senior citizens?

Not really.

Prioritizing Targets

But perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “Paul, what’s the harm in having getting more visitors even if they’re not in my target audience? Maybe one of those senior citizens you mentioned above has a grandchild who might go to that school.”

Sure, there is no harm in getting more untargetted visitors, but there is a cost. Unless you have unlimited time and an unlimited budget, you can’t target everyone. So, it’s important to focus on the people who are most likely to help you reach your goals.

3 Defining Criteria

There are lots of ways to define your target audience. We alluded to a couple of them above, but let’s address them specifically:

  1. Geographic – The most obvious way to define your target audience is by where they’re located. What country, state, county and city are most of your customers, church members, students or volunteers located? Be realistic. Just because you have one customer who lives 100 miles away, doesn’t mean you should target that city if 95% of your customers are located in the same city you are.
  2. Demographic – Are the people you’re trying to reach primarily of one particular gender, age, ethnicity or marital status?
  3. Psychographic – What’s the mindset or culture of the people who typically buy your products or join your organization? Are they well-to-do executives? Computer geeks? Soccer moms? Athletes?

A lot of times people make guesses about their target audience.  If you have to, guessing better than nothing.  But whenever possible, make these determinations using real data.  Unless you are just starting out, you probably have geographic and demographic data on the people in your organization.  Surveys are a good source of data as well.

Bottom line: before your website can be optimized to reach your target audience, you have to know who they are and where they are.


  • Have you defined your organization’s target audience?  Why or why not?
  • If you have defined your target audience, tell us about it.

2: Setting SMART, ROI-Based SEO Goals <– What is SEO? –> 4: Telling Search Engines Where to Go

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.