Audience Research Beginners Guide

What is Audience Research?

Audience research is the process of gathering, analysing, and interpreting information about a specific target audience to better understand their needs, preferences, behaviours, and motivations. This research helps businesses, marketers, and content creators to tailor their products, services, and communication strategies in a way that resonates with their target audience, ultimately leading to increased engagement, brand loyalty, and conversions.

Why is Audience Research Important?

Audience research is important within your overall SEO strategy because the more you know about who your audience is, the more effectively you can communicate with them, leading to a whole host of positive benefits for your business as outlined below.

Conducting Audience Research allows you to identify your audience and target them.

Audience Example

Improved User Engagement

When content is written with a specific audience in mind, it is far more engaging to those people that fall within that audience, leading to decreased bounce rates, longer time on the website, increased conversion rates, and ultimately more sales.

Increased Relevance of Content to Search Queries

By understanding your audience’s language, needs, and preferences, the content that is visible in search results will be highly relevant to your audience’s search queries, making them more likely to click through to your website and then read the content.

Higher Organic Search Rankings

When content is engaging, these signals indicate that it is relevant to your audience, and the indirect factors such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and time on page, contribute to higher rankings over time in the search results. It’s a self-reinforcing process where quality & relevant content that is valuable to your audience will find itself in higher rankings in the SERPs over time.

Enhanced Brand Trust

When a brand understands its audience, the audience feels understood, heard, and valued, leading to increased trust and loyalty over time, which can lead to repeat visits, and additional sales over the long term.

Better Conversion Rates & ROI

Finally, when content is highly relevant, your audience will be more likely to convert to a sale and lead to a higher return on investment based on the efforts and resources that went into creating and enhancing the content for your audience.

Types of Audience Research for SEO


This type of research involves the collection of numerical data to draw statistically significant conclusions about a large audience. It typically includes methods such as surveys, questionnaires, and data analysis from web analytics platforms. Quantitative research helps in identifying trends, patterns, and preferences within the target audience.

By collecting numercial data you can identify trends and patterns within your Target Audience.

Quantitative data


This type of research focuses on gathering in-depth insights into the opinions, beliefs, and motivations of a smaller, more specific group of people. Qualitative research methods include focus groups, interviews, and observations. This approach provides a deeper understanding of the reasons behind audience behaviours and preferences, allowing for more targeted and personalised strategies.

Gathering in-depth insights from specific groups of people can lead to a greater understanding of your Audience.

Focus Group

Aligning Your Content Strategy with Audience Needs and Interests

One of the primary methods in SEO to design your content strategy is to do keyword research, which is one of the most common ways to understand your audience. Each semantically unique keyword should be matched with an existing or future-created page. This ensures that the content created has demand and could lead to additional organic search volume over time. 

However, just doing keyword research is not going to allow you to understand your audience at deeper levels. Not everything in your audience’s mind is searched on Google, so one has to dig deeper to get familiar with your audience’s needs and interests to inform your content strategy.

Once you do additional quantitative and qualitative research, and get to know your audience beyond their keyword searches, this will allow you to come up with further potential content pages to create, that may or may not have search volume, but still adds value to your audience when they come to your website.

Remember, not all pages have to have search volume to be valuable. It could be that your audience arrives through a different page with search volume, and then explores other content pages on your website, finding that you have a lot of additional content that other competitors don’t, leading them to become one of your customers because they felt understood and found the answers they were looking for.

Effective Audience Research Methods for SEO

Below are some of the most common and effective audience research methods for SEO, that help you understand your audience at a deeper level, so you can refine your content strategy and language to enhance your conversion rates.

Trends & Keyword Research

Looking at the latest trends (using Google Trends or other software), as well as doing comprehensive keyword research, allows you to step into the minds of your audience to see what their intentions are, what they need, and what they are interested in. Make a note in a spreadsheet, along with the quantitative data with it so you can come back to this later when structuring your content strategy.

Surveys & Questionnaires

Reviewing existing survey or questionnaire results from similar audiences, or conducting them yourself through an existing database will give you more granular insights into understanding your audience. The data could be quantitative, qualitative, or both, depending on what the questions are.

You can gather both quantitative and qualitative data from Surveys and Questionnaires.


Focus Groups and Interviews

Organising focus groups of 2-5 individuals per group or doing 1-on-1 interviews helps you get even more qualitative data about your audience. The quality of the questions asked will determine the quality of your responses, so make sure to carefully craft them based on what you’d like to learn about them.

Online Reviews

Another treasure trove for audience research is online reviews. This can be as broad as looking through general reviews on competitor websites, to reviews on your own, all the way to more specific product or service reviews, so you understand what customers liked, disliked, and want more of. These insights are gold dust that should be incorporated into your SEO content strategy.

Google Analytics Audience Reports

Looking at your Google Analytics audience reports also gives you some valuable insights to see what your audience is looking at on your website, how engaged they are with that content, and other useful metrics that help you understand them.

Competitor Analysis

Finally, doing an in-depth analysis of your direct competitors gives you many perspectives on your audience that could give you some ideas on how to better serve them through useful content and engaging website experiences.

Analysing and Applying Audience Research Data

Once you’ve done your audience research, it’s time to analyse that information and then apply your findings and insights to your SEO and content strategy. Below are some ways in which you can analyse your audience research data.

Identifying Key Audience Segments

From the audience research you’ve collated, it’s important to identify key audience segments so that you can more effectively communicate your message with each one. This involves segmenting your audience into groups based on factors such as demographics, interests, online behaviour, and content preferences. Identifying key audience segments helps you tailor your SEO strategy to cater to the needs and preferences of each group, which can lead to improved search rankings and higher user engagement.

Developing Audience Personas

Once you have identified your key audience segments, it is essential to develop audience personas. These personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on the data collected during the segmentation process. By creating detailed personas, you can better understand the needs, pain points, and motivations of your audience, allowing you to craft more targeted content and optimise your website for the search terms and phrases they are likely to use.

Crafting Tailored Content for Specific Audience Groups

With a clear understanding of your audience segments and personas, you can create content that caters to the specific needs of each group. This involves crafting unique and engaging content that resonates with your target audience and addresses their concerns and interests. By producing tailored content, you can improve the user experience, increase the likelihood of social shares, and ultimately boost your search engine rankings. This process may involve keyword research, topic clustering, and a focus on creating high-quality, authoritative content.

Optimising Content for Search Intent

Understanding the search intent behind the keywords and phrases your audience uses is crucial to creating content that meets their needs. There are four main types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation. By aligning your content with the appropriate search intent, you can improve your website's relevance and visibility in search engine results. This involves optimising your content with relevant keywords, meta tags, headers, and internal links, as well as providing clear calls-to-action and user-friendly navigation.

Evaluating and Adapting SEO Strategy Based on Audience Insights

SEO is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and adaptation. Regularly reviewing your audience research data and monitoring your website's performance can help you identify trends, uncover new opportunities, and make informed decisions about your SEO strategy. This may involve adjusting your keyword focus, updating content to better address user needs, or improving site structure for a better user experience. By continually refining your SEO strategy based on audience insights, you can stay ahead of your competition and maintain a strong online presence.

Hike + Audience Research

The primary way audience research can be done through Hike is to use the keyword research functionality to see what your audience is looking for. Understanding what phrases your audience is searching for gives you quite a lot of insight into understanding your audience and what type of content to create.

If you haven’t already tried Hike, it’s one of the best platforms for small business owners to improve their organic traffic, even if they have no prior SEO experience or technical knowledge. Give Hike a try with our 14-day money-back guarantee!