How Personas Help Understand Search Intent

In the session titled “What Search Data Reveals About Customer Needs & Desires – And How To Use It” during SMX West 2012, Michael King with Publicis Modem discussed how important it is to bring search and social together to maximize reach and ROI. 

He states that search alone is too impersonal. Search identifies needs but standard keywords do a poor job of really understanding searchers intent. In order to be able to identify search intent, we should develop personas for the business, characters that represent your target audience.  By narrowing down personas, you will be able to fully understand each characters motivation and method of using search to find what they are looking for.

So how do we go about creating these personas? You should look at your social data, business goals, and market research to try and define demographics. This will help you define personas and their need states. How do you know if your personas are accurate? If your business has a Facebook page, take a look at Facebook insights for demographic information. You can also use ComScore or AdPlanner for demographic information as well. If your site is new, you can always analyze a competitor site for this information.

Once you have fully identified the personas, you have a better understanding of where they are in the conversion funnel and what types of keyword phrases they will most likely use and relate to. Build your content to your personas’ queries and intent in order to maximize ROI. By analyzing your visits and conversions, you will be able to validate your theories.

In conclusion, by creating personas for your business, you will be able to better understand your consumers search intent and match up content to what their needs are. The end result will be higher traffic and higher conversions. The information is at your fingertips, you just have to learn how to mining for it.


  • Bill Hunt, President, Back Auimuth Consulting
  • Michael King, SEO Manager, Publicis Modem
  • Hamid Saify, Search Marketing Director, Deutsch LA

Contributed by Zulema Romero, Director of Client Services

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