Product Management

How getting your user persona and content model right will improve your SEO

If you’re publishing a website that is driven by content, as most are these days, then there are two key building blocks you should begin with before you even consider hiring a designer or developer:
1. User Personas that will visit your site
2. Content model of your site
Getting these two simple things correct at the very outset will ensure your site is setup to be well ranked in Google search results. It’s the online equivalent of surveying the land and putting in deep foundations when you build a house.  

What are User Personas?
User Personas are a term thrown about a lot by “digital people” trying to make the landscape seem more complex than it is, but there’s nothing complex about them. At a base level, your user personas are the groups that your client base falls into – broken down into all the relevant information that client may be looking for and their habits and likes. For example, if you take our site, some of our customer user personas would fall into the below categories:

1. Small to Medium Sized Publishers
– Typically a business that is sub-75 employees
– Produces content that is distributed online (via websites, mobile apps, content aggregators etc)
– Has a small tech team but limited holistic digital expertise in the form of product management or SEO specialists
– May have one or more sites that are not yet responsive in nature

2. Real Estate Companies
– Franchise, regional or national
– May have an IT team but no in-house digital expertise in the form of product management or SEO
– Require assistance on improving their online presence to maximise customer leads on potential properties for sale

3. Start-Ups
– Still in the stage of boot-strapping, yet to hire digital expertise in-house
– Need help with turning their idea into a product and doing the logistical thinking around factors that could impact that product’s success
– Actively pursuing a product in one of the following areas: mobile apps, responsive websites, music streaming, mobile SMS & IVR
Or, another example would be a real estate website. Think of all the possible customers it has and then list those customers in order of importance, e.g.:
– Prospective Sellers
– Potential new franchisees
– Property Developers looking for contact details
– Other agents who want to work for the company  
When creating user personas try to come up with as much detail as possible. Make them a real person, give them a name, age, family status etc. All of this information will assist you in getting inside that persons head and will ensure your site is best tailored for them.  

I’ve got my user personas – now what is a content model?
Your content model should be the next thing to consider. A content model is exactly that, a description of all the types of content you plan to include on your product or website, information on how that content will interact with one another and details on what type of content should be structured versus not structured. Google gives ‘extra points’ to sites that have a well structured content model which makes it easier for it to read.

By having structured data, you can then more easily manipulate that data in future without having to reverse engineer your code. An example here may be a recipe website which has been created with a structured content model and taxonomy. Having this in place means that you can easily search on all recipes which are “Thai” in cuisine and you can sell advertising against those. It also allows you to easily extract that data from your CMS and promote it via a partner website. You can more easily manipulate that data by running a database query so that for every occurrence of the word “chicken” inside ingredients, you can insert a sponsor name in front.

Building the foundations that your business runs on is more important than the speed with which you get your website live. Solid foundations will lead to a more sustainable, stronger, business in future. If this article has inspired you and you’d like to find out where you can improve online to better your business, contact us for more details.  

User persona image borrowed from Roman Pichler – if you don’t know agile and want to learn, his books are a great start.