Discovering Which Sites Your Target Audience Visits – Whiteboard Friday


[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

Identifying your target market is only one-fifth of the battle. If you want to win the proverbial war, you have to know your audience inside and out. Discovering the sites they visit and using that knowledge to your advantage is key, but the best practices to do so can feel unclear. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand outlines a five-step process to more effectively reach and market to your target community.

Discovering Which Sites Your Target Audience Visits Whiteboard

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about finding sites that your audience visits so that you can better market to them.

Now, this is an awesome tactic to use for link building. It’s great for advertising. It’s great for reaching your community wherever they may go on the Web, but it’s not always obvious how to go about this, and that’s exactly what I want to talk you through.

Step 1 – Identify people who are part of our target audience.

So whoever it is that we are trying to reach, that we’re trying to sell to, that we’re trying to market to, these are people that we know perform certain kinds of searches, they visit places on the Web, they download and install apps. Whatever it is that they’re doing in the digital world, we want to uncover those things, and to do so we need to start with a sample set, a small but substantive sample set of say 5 to 10 people who really match our audience’s attributes. Then essentially we’re just going to clone them. We’re going to replicate those folks.

So assuming we start here with a little group, I’ve got my six fellows over here. I’m going to take out one of them and I’m going to essentially look at the attributes and characteristics of this person who’s in my audience.

This is Mortimer. He’s a freelance writer for the example that we’ll be using this Whiteboard Friday. I’m going to assume that I’m creating a product for writers specifically. I know that Mortimer is a contributor to several different publications.

Now that I know his name and a little bit about him and what he does, title, maybe the company where he works, etc., I can look at: What are the social networks that Mortimer uses? I’m going to do a search essentially just in Google, and I’m going to look for: Where are all the places that Mortimer has profiles on the Web? From where does he share content? If he’s using Twitter, by the way, this is super easy with Followerwonk, because I can go to the Followerwonk Analyze page and I can actually tap right in to see all of the content, well, the list of domains that Morty shares from most often. That’s pretty cool. If he’s not using Twitter, it’s fine. We can do this manually, and we can just start to look at: All right, where is he sharing content from? What’s he talking about, etc.? Where does he already have a profile? What networks is he using?

Next thing I’m going to do is I’m going to use data that I already know about keyword research. So I take my keyword research, which I’ve already performed, that I know this group of people is searching for in general. I can be a little bit broader than I normally would be around very sales or conversion-focused types of keyword research. I can essentially say, “What do I know these people look for when they’re looking to further their careers or their writing or their work in my area?” It doesn’t have to be conversion-focused. It can be very broad.

Step 2 – Collect search results.

So I can essentially collect those search results, and then I want to find the domains that are ranking well consistently numerous times for numerous different keywords.

So I might use words like “podcast for writers,” and then I’m also going to grab the related searches like “best literary podcast,” “good podcast for writers” — the “I Should Be Writing podcast” is actually a related search here — or “podcast books.”

Then I’m going to take those searches, line them up here as my keywords right here in the columns, and then for my rows, well, these are the domains that I found ranking consistently for these. It was, TheWriteLife, and These all ranked somewhere for some of these queries, so I’m going to make a list like that.

This can actually be done pretty easily with tools. You could use your Moz exports if you’re using Moz’s ranking tools. You could use the same thing just to export all your ranking URLs from Searchmetrics or from GetSTAT if you’re using STAT, or you could use SEMrush. Whatever ranking software you’re using you can get an export. You can even do this manually. It just takes a little more time.

Step 3 – Broaden the lists.

Next up, I’m going to use some tools and some search queries to broaden these lists. So if I find that a lot of people and a lot of writers do visit for obvious reasons, I can then plug that into SEMrush. From SEMrush, I can see all the keywords that they rank for and the domains that most often also rank for those keywords.

I can use SimilarWeb to essentially see similar websites. People also visit these sites. That’s inside SimilarWeb Pro. I can use Google.

What I want to do is add queries like “verse,” “verses,” “alternatives,” “sites like,” “similar sites” onto the end of Goodreads or whatever the domains are that come from my lists over here. Then I will get a bunch more domains that I can plug in.

Step 4 – Survey your target audience.

The last thing I want to do to broaden this list just one more time, and to validate and verify that I’ve captured all the right stuff, is I might try and send out a survey to my target audience. So if I’m connected to these 6 people and hopefully 10 to 20 more at least like them, and I’m actually going to survey them and say — I really like using Typeform, I’ve used it a few times. If you follow me on Twitter, I’ve been sending some Typeform surveys lately. Looks great on mobile. I get high completion rates. So I love that software.

I might ask them, “What are your three favorite websites for freelance writing resources?” And then boom, one, two, three. Submit. Sweet.

Now, what would be even greater here is if I captured an email address because then I can reach out to those folks and say, “Hey, here are the most popular websites.” Or I put up a blog post that shows what they are. Now I can go and reach out to the websites that most frequently appeared here and say, “Hey, guess what? You showed up most often in my survey, and I wrote about it.” Great for networking and building a relationship and furthering a relationship.

Step 5 – Identify sites that have marketing opportunities to reach your audience.

The last step is actually the work that goes into identifying the marketing opportunity. So I know all these sites. I’ve got a huge list that I’ve now expanded and expanded again. Now I can go and look for things like an ad opportunity. On Goodreads they have an advertising platform that I can specifically use.

I can look for community discussion or commenting features. BookLikes has a system where I can set up a profile and then start commenting and contributing to their forum and their Q&A.

Bookish has a cast of characters.

This is on their About page. I can find the people behind the site, and then I can connect with them. If they all have Twitter accounts, I can follow them on Twitter. I can connect with them via LinkedIn. I could pitch them on email if I have something specific that I’d like to contribute to this site or if I’m not seeing an advertising opportunity or something else.

LitReactor had a great place where I could actually create an account and then start submitting my content just like YouMoz does for So those guest submission opportunities.

Basically I’m looking for anything like this, types of opportunities where I can get involved in these sites and be visible to their audiences so that I can start creating a relationship with those audiences and then hopefully earn their interest, earn their attention, earn their trust, and have them go check out whatever it is that I’m doing on my own website.

All right everyone. I look forward to your suggestions and ideas, as well as any cool tools or processes you use, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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